The future of fashion is here

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We teamed up with fashion house Republiqe to create our own digital collection

17 November 2021, 3:54 PM


This week we launched our very own Difference Makers digital fashion collection, a chic and fleek capsule that will have you double-tapping so fast you’ll be breaking your screen!

The collection was made by digital fashion house Republiqe, who feature in our film. James Gaubert, the founder, and Ashwini Deshpande, the lead designer, worked in both real and digital spaces to create these insane garms. You can even watch them build our lit bubble dress in VR (!) here.

But what is digital fashion, anyway? 

First let’s look at fashion’s sustainability problem: the fashion industry contributes to 10% of all man-made carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. These crazy numbers aren’t slowing down, either. The dawn of fast fashion means the demand for clothes is higher than ever, with low prices keeping us consumers hungry for more. But so many of these cheap clothes end up in landfills across the world, with 10,000 items of clothing being sent to landfills every five minutes. It’s a wonder the entire planet hasn’t just turned into a mega-trash-heap. If we’re not careful, we’ll have created a new Mount Everest out of cheap crop tops and sweatpants...  

But it’s not all doom and gloom – we can make a difference, and in pretty unexpected ways too. Digital fashion is positioned as a net carbon zero solution to some of fashion’s sustainability issues. Republiqe, specifically, wants to digitise fast fashion, those throwaway items that are bought for the ‘Gram and then tossed aside.

A survey of 2000 people in 2018 found that one in 10 respondents would dump their clothes after wearing the items just three times in photos posted on Facebook or Instagram.

By creating these virtual garments (many of which are ‘made’ from materials that are completely unsustainable in the real world), Republiqe hopes to remove some of this wastefulness with an alternative that’s just as accessible (if not more so!).

The collection

James and Ashwini put their heads together to create our incredible Difference Makers collection, with Ashwini designing a lot of it in VR (cool hey!). The process of creating the garments is not dissimilar to how it would be IRL, with what she calls ‘pattern blocks’ being formed on a digital model, and experimenting with different textures and materials after that.

The clothes then go up on the Republiqe site, where you buy a look, send a pic and get it digitally fitted. No waste, no landfill fodder, just pure vibes. 

Digital fashion is just one way in which we can crush climate change and wastage in fashion. Other companies are using innovation and to tackle these issues. ByRotation, a clothing rental company that challenges overconsumption habits, and prolonging the life cycle of sustainable items.  

Water wastage is also a huge problem, and some brands are solving this in some pretty epic and varied ways. E.L.V Denim, a London-based brand, use and repurpose recycled denim than would otherwise be heading for the skip. The denim must be washed before it’s reused though (d’uh), so E.L.V use a local launderer and a mere two gallons of water to achieve this. Even their offcuts are donated to artists to be used in their projects!  

Other fashion houses are turning back to the earth for solutions to the sustainability problem. Pangaia are fast becoming one of the most recognisable brands in the sustainable fashion world. By blending scientific textiles with chic designs, Pangaia’s innovative lab is making garments and accessories out of the things around us, from CO2 sunglasses to bio-engineered everyday wear.  

By partnering with Republiqe, and letting you know about all these cool companies making a difference, we want to show you how STEM is making the world snazzier and more sustainable, and just how easy it is for us all to help make a difference. So, what one step will you take to make your garm selection greener?

Coming soon – the coolest sustainable music, engineering and technology project EVER. You won’t want to miss this! Make sure you follow our socials to be kept up to date!  

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#DifferenceMakers was created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) – one of the world’s largest engineering institutions and a diverse home for everyone in engineering and technology.