Alteration space, Lampoon
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Alteration Space – Virtual clothing, a sustainable way to compensate fast fashion damage

«3d modeling allows you to save on tailoring samples, speeds up the process, and increases productivity while saving resources»

Alteration Space digital project 

Developed by artists Anna Nazaretskaia and Daria Elkina together with Acqua Foundation, the international art charity dedicated to protect and preserve water, Alteration Space consists in the development of a virtual clothes collection and aims to raise awareness about the environmental exploitation and damage carried out by the fast fashion circle of over production and consumption. The development of this project and its proceeds will also contribute to a solidarity project in collaboration with Amref Health Africa-Italia. With Alteration Space, the creative duo wanted to use fashion as a tool for sociological and cultural expression without the need of producing actual garments. Acqua Foundation engages artists with the objective to develop specific fundraising projects, explains the president Gabriele Bonfiglioli. To overcome the deficiency of sustainability in the fashion sphere, the Foundation aims to set up an interest inside the different companies to approach a conscious production method starting from the traceability of each garment.

Virtual clothes collection: the states of the water

Anna Nazaretskaia explains how the development of the project is independent from the spread of the NFT (Non Fungible Token), although thinking about expanding the idea of tokenizing the collection was one of the considered options. The reasons are mainly focused on the ability to track the transfer of cryptocurrencies and the rise of transparency in terms of donation for the contributors. The uncertainty is clear on this point because of the lack of conclusive research, the question about the effective sustainability of tokens has been raised several times and additional studies will be conducted in order to consider the pros and cons of this choice. The production of tokens, reiterates Nazaretskaia, requires a large amount of energy and leaves behind a large carbon footprint. The concept of the collection springs from the states of the water in nature, because of the variety of its visual shapes and the essential role it plays in human life which ends up damaging this resource. The solid state of snow in the mountains, the liquid state of melting ice floes, the gas state of the clouds in the sky and the climate change effect of dry river and water sources, specifies Elkina. «I lived for some time in Uzbekistan, in an arid climate, when the country was famous for the production of cotton. Now people know about the ecological disaster since the Aral Sea has almost dried up». The development of the garments begins, as for the physical collections, from the sketches of the outfits. The following steps are directed to the digitalization of the apparels, the software CLO3D is used to create digital prototypes and morph garments to different poses. The final creation of the sample with all the details as fabrics, textures, prints are developed with the software C4D/BLENDER together with the animation and the rendering of digital sample. In the final step, the software PREMERIE/AE permits to compose the digital garment with a real photo of a person. According to the artists, the great opportunity, offered by this model compared to the physical process of production, is the possibility to experiment with textures, prints and materials without effectively buying or producing them.

Daryana Elka, Lampoon
Alteration space, ph Daryana Elka

Prospects on the future of digital clothing

The Alteration Space project can be supported through the website; the process of buying virtual clothes starts with the client’s choice of the garment which has a different range of prices for donations in order to allow different targets to contribute. Once the outfit has been chosen, the customer won’t be able to try it immediately but will receive it by e-mail within three days from the uploading of a photo of itself. The artists claim that digital clothing will not completely replace the real one, as the added value of virtual clothing will be just an additional means of communication. As the pandemic forced most businesses to move forward into technological development, fashion brands are discovering the mixture of digital and physical garment as an essential element of their customer centric approach. Starting from the most common usage made today through digital clothing of trying items directly through e-commerce, Alteration Space aims to promote waste reduction, particularly in the communication sectors of the industry. In these cases, virtual clothing can be the alternative: the production of content both for social networks and fashion magazines, the realization of photo shoots, advertising campaigns and virtual productions, the cinematographic production or the windows display of the shops up to revolutionize the stylist profession.

3D modeling to save resources 

Elkina imagines how the diffusion of the technology will allow people to wear virtual clothes in certain occasions such as online conferences or meetings, especially with the increasing spread of smart working and home office solutions. That is the reason why the diffusion of digital fashion creation is going to become an actual space for the expansion of the business. The e-commerce sector has already seen a growth in a period during which the physical and usual store importance has been annulled, digital fashion will be juxtaposed to the physical one becoming mainstream. «This is a simple, fast fitting, real-time tracking for presentations, video calls. It’s a matter of time. In the physical production of clothing, 3d modeling allows you to save on tailoring samples, speeds up the process, and increases productivity. You can create virtual collections, put the catalog on a website with the possibility of virtual fitting and work on pre-order, while saving resources». Fashion has always had a role in the definition of a person and its identity. Virtual clothing enhances this peculiarity because it is not limited to physical incarnations and decreases the fear of exploring new boundaries of taste. The thoughts of the designers are focused on the possibility of the variation that the 3D space can give for the different garments, showing uniqueness and denying the exploitation of natural resources. Frequently fashion brands confuse the less expert buyers’ eyes with projects stated as sustainable but being it only through the greenwashing kind of communication, the success is that customers crave for more information and traceability of products, becoming aware of the consequences of their actions. Acting and producing responsibly for the planet should be followed by an information action within everyone’s reach. «Digital fashion is one of the ways to mitigate fast fashion globalization side effects, bringing the idea that anyone can creatively participate in the normalization of our planet ecosystem».

Given the premises, today it would be idealistic to think of a successful future for virtual clothing separating it from the real context of the fashion industry. The possibilities for that field hover around the creation of NFT, with the waste of energy resources to store the deed of possession through the cryptocurrency, or the one-time chance to dress with a virtual garment sewn over a photo. As far as speeding up is possible in the construction phase of the collection, with the benefit to misspend money and fabrics, the fashion world remains strictly connected to its essence traceable in the first forms developed starting from the need to wear clothing on certain social occasions. At the moment the use of consciously produced or recycled materials appears to be the most suitable opportunity for the fashion system to comply with the objectives to be achieved in the field of sustainability, until other little explored methods such as make to order could be expanded to a wider brands selection. The possibility of expression represented by virtual clothing can be enhanced, if compared to real life garments influenced by the rules of reality such as the gravitational force. For this reason, their role will be likely to remain relegated to the artistic use or to an avatar world, close to the gaming universe from which digital clothing seems to be taking off. Regardless of the charitable purpose of the Alteration Space project, one has to wonder if anyone would actually spend money on non-existent clothes.

Anna Nazaretskaia

Is a Russian designer and artist, based in Milan. Graduated from the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering and interested in art, design and fashion, starting from her modeling career she pursued this objective of working in fashion. Some of her projects: she collaborated in the creation of light costumes for the Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony and worked for several design projects with international brands.

Daria Elkina

Is a Siberian digital artist specialized in fashion projects and 3D art. She worked in the production of contents for over 16 years for television, social networks, websites.

Acqua Foundation

Is a charity engaged in raising awareness about water damages and solutions in order to implement its conservation, for this it uses artistic projects about the safeguard of this resource.

Chiara Narciso

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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