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Will Digital Fashion Go on the Backburner as AI Interest Rockets?

With Meta (formerly Facebook) announcing large-scale cutbacks in manpower and investment in the metaverse within three months of doubling down on its prior investment, questions are being raised on the immediate future of the virtual reality platform(s).

Walmart Virtual Store with AI-enabled Shopping assistant (Image courtesy Mutual Mobile)

Only Gaming seems to know how to Open Consumer wallets virtually

While most brands have made significant investments in the metaverse space in 2022, few of them have an understanding of where it is actually going, according to Lewis Smithingham, Senior VP of innovation at Media Monks.

Gaming companies on one hand are continuing to build their presence, confident that the metaverse will arise out of the many virtual worlds now populated by millions of gamers and which represent the largest chunk of commercial revenue from virtual reality. Gaming environments today represent over a fifth of internet consumers, according to Media Monks.

On the other hand, consumer brands are slowing down their investments and seem to be taking stock after a heady rush to quickly build presence, with NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) dropping significantly in value (NFTs are digitally unique versions of an image that can be created and sold between netizens).

Future of Digital Fashion at Stake

Digital fashion worlds too seem to be hard hit, as consumers have shown little interest in buying beyond the first rush for virtual avatars. Roblox and Fortnite (both of which are gamer driven digital platforms) alone seem to be making headway in getting consumers to spend real money on virtual acquisitions.

So, is this the end of the digital fashion dream run?

Not necessarily, say many of the technology experts watching the space. The current situation may have put a pause on digital spending, but the broad-based trend is likely to continue, albeit from a different direction – AI or Artificial Intelligence.

And how is AI likely to bring about a boom in digital fashion? Through application-based end-user-oriented tools that make it easier for shoppers to go virtual.

Merging Worlds

Imagine an AI powered virtual version of a shop assistant helping you shortlist, select, and try out different designs online, then ringing up your order to be delivered to you in the physical world. Or an AI powered robot assistant who will take you through to the Virtual Reality (VR) trial room and recommend various designs as you stand inside a physical store. Virtual reality (VR) powered by AI could make these happen by early next year, as companies race to utilize the power of Generative AI that tools like ChatGPT have managed to showcase.

Brands have begun looking at AI-based tools to power up their sales and marketing as companies like Google, Meta and Microsoft invest in harnessing the capabilities of these tools to have intelligent, interactive conversations with real customers online. And merging these with virtual property already in place or in process makes complete logical sense for the brands looking to give themselves the virtual edge they need. So brands that have made investments in virtual reality need to stay on track and consolidate their technology focus as different streams merge to create a new consumer reality for the future.

We predict exciting times ahead for the fashion world. So, hang on, the fun is just starting!

Fuel4Fashion is a design, branding and technology consultancy for the fashion and apparel industry. We provide consulting and advisory services across design, business and IT processes to early stage and mid-sized apparel manufacturers and brands looking to grow their business with the help of smart sustainable management practices. Visit our website here and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for regular updates.

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