Digital fashion has rocketed up the agenda for brands in recent years. Social media, online gaming and increased reliance on e-commerce have opened up new opportunities to show off and sell virtual clothing, giving consumers new ways to present their identities to the world.
Gravity the Studio is harnessing the opportunities for self-expression that virtual spaces afford. The team design garments that only exist in a digital format using 3D design tools, then mint them as NFTs for sale over the brand’s website.
What makes Gravity different is that once a customer has paid for the NFT, they submit a photo to the company in any pose they choose; using Gravity’s unique garment draping simulation technology, the brand places the garment onto the customer’s body in the picture, creating a realistic image of the customer ‘wearing’ their NFT that can be uploaded straight to Instagram.
Beta users were able to purchase their first pieces on 1 November. The ‘Venusian Collection’ comprises seven virtual couture garments inspired by Renaissance art and fashion – co-founder Emily Shahaj cites Hieronymus Bosch and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus as influences – as well as a hint of cyberpunk aesthetic.
The latter lends itself to Gravity Studio’s broader concept. As each new collection is released, the characters, styling and even the product descriptions will gradually reveal a longer science fiction story around which the brand is built, bringing customers back again and again to discover the next chapter.
The countdown to launch has not been without challenges for Emily, a former dancer whose interest in fashion began with sewing her own costumes and moved onto a Masters degree in printed textiles, and Chief Creative Officer Serena Liao. Finding talent with right mix of technical and design skills to create high-quality virtual garments is still a top priority, while the team has worked hard to upskill themselves.
Having the best possible team becomes even more important when Gravity’s garment draping tool comes into play after the NFT is sold, as each piece should look as realistic as possible as it is being ‘worn’ by the customer.
“Inclusivity in our designs is super important to us, and we’ve definitely had conversations about things like fit, styling and gender across the collection,” Emily says.
“Ultimately we’re designing and draping using the most realistic technology out there because we want every piece to be able to fit every body.”
With each piece custom-draped onto each consumer, the stage is set for customers to truly love their virtual clothes.
They will also be able to retain and recoup their value. With a service currently available on OpenSea and which will eventually be available through Gravity’s own website, each piece can be resold and draped onto the NFT’s new owner.
Deeper emotional connections with our wardrobes and keeping clothes in circulation for longer are the kinds of behaviours that Gravity hopes will filter through to customers’ real-world habits.
For any blockchain-driven business sustainability is an important issue, and Gravity works on the Polygon blockchain which is associated with lower environmental impact. But in satisfying some of the need for novelty and escapism that fuels fashion consumption without customers needing to buy new physical clothes, the brand hopes to help reduce the amount of garments ending up in landfill every year.
Refining the site and learning from the first collection are at the top of the agenda for now, while Gravity has also made it to the semi-finals of the TDeFi Bizthon hackathon, part of the world’s largest blockchain conference in Dubai. If they are among the 200 finalists, the team will be flown to Dubai to pitch at the conference in front of global tech leaders and investors.
As part of the submission, Gravity has made in-roads with its next big priority: diversifying from Instagram-ready content into gaming spaces and the metaverse.
The brand will integrate with existing crypto-metaverses as part of the project, while the team are also in talks to provide the first avatar fashion available in two new virtual reality metaverses. Any NFT garment purchased from Gravity’s website or in these metaverses will be wearable on Instagram or on the customer’s avatar.
“There’s such a huge demand to be able to express yourself through fashion in gaming spaces right now, and there is definite demand elsewhere too,” Emily adds. “Metaverses are expanding so rapidly that it has to be on the cards for us. We’re in an exciting place to be.”