Fashion design education is important for the metaverse


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In 1964, Arthur C Clarke, science writer and futurist, predicted “invention to put an end to all inventions.” He called “the replicator”, a duplicating machine for creating copies of anything at any time: “Faced with such a device, society is probably going to sink into a kind of greedy barbarism because everyone would want quantities. unlimited of everything since nothing would cost nothing, “Clarke warned.

Sixty years later, replicators are the norm. In the physical realm, we have 3D printing machines recreating elements from digital files, and fast fashion making cheap copies on a large scale. But perhaps the closest to Sir Arthur’s replicator today is digital design. As digital twins, digitally designed items can be perfect copies of any physical item. These objects inhabit a virtual universe where there are no physical or creative limitations, because as Clarke said, “the future is not simply an extension of the present”.

New digital technologies are increasing our opportunities in ways previously unimaginable. The metaverse, decentralized transactions such as blockchain and especially NFTs, and the rise of Web3 are transforming the Internet and therefore our world, from a creative, social and commercial point of view. In this scenario, how should we educate fashion designers for a future workplace in the metaverse? We asked this question and more of five key innovators in fashion education.

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This article is a collaboration between the Digital Fashion Group Academy and FashionUnited, written by Dr Lívia Pinent, Digital Research Professor at the Digital Fashion Group Academy.

The digital transformation driven by fashion schools

“When you’re 18 or 17, you don’t know much about the fashion industry. You have ideas, thoughts, but you expect to be guided by academia and what the program is going to offer. “said Professor Jules Dagonet. , director of the Fashion & Textiles school at UCA (University for the Creative Arts) in London. Undergraduates seek advice when they first enter fashion school, and educational institutions should prepare for it, showing them all the opportunities and alternatives for a career in fashion.

For Dagonet, these students are eager to embrace digital fashion, but are not exactly driving change. Not as much as sustainability, “it’s a priority for them,” she added. “It is the responsibility of educational establishments to lead and innovate in digital fashion, then to involve students in it”.

But how can fashion schools drive innovation? For Dagonet, the answer is education: “We can’t just talk, we have to walk. Not all staff will be familiar with CLO3D, Adobe Substance, all the new software that is introduced to bring digital fashion to life, so it is our responsibility as an educational institution to develop all of our staff. “.

Teaching digital fashion design as a mindset

“Digitization needs to be integrated from scratch into the fashion curriculum,” said Leslie Holden, co-founder of The Digital Fashion Group, “but where to start? How to move towards a study program that embraces digital? How to guarantee the quality, the number of students, new methods, new skills, a new collaboration, a new course with a team that may have little or no digital skills? It is important to understand the mindset first and the skills will come later. “

The digital mindset brings new business models and new roles for fashion designers to explore. According to Holden, “we have to train fashion educators to be able to teach designers how to be digital entrepreneurs with the right digital mindset.” And it raises another question: “Should we continue to train so many fashion designers for an old business model when employability is a key performance measure for fashion education these days?” “

As Sean Chiles, co-founder of The Digital Fashion Group, pointed out, academia has started to focus on the employment situation of students over the past 30 years, moving from an artistic and research approach. business requirements. This is linked to government funding and its key performance indicators of job creation in each country.

For Shannon Sim, senior lecturer at the School of Fashion at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore, “the old industrial revolution format for fashion education has to go, like it or not. With students seated in a classroom, with the lecturer providing the information they think the student needs to learn. The student listens and absorbs without asking questions. This must change.

As Chiles argues, “education and training are two separate things”. Schools should go beyond responding to employers ‘demands, as education is about’ what you want to see, who you want to be, what you want to do, etc. For a designer, it’s about creating in your psyche, with how you feel about everything. And then we connect with the times with design and social interaction, ”said Chiles. “You can learn to cut out a pattern very quickly. What you have to learn is how it relates to the person and how it relates to society.”

Digital fashion design and collaborative skills

When discussing the intersections of fashion and technology, it is essential to understand the social impact of what we create, as we are dealing with new and little explored virtual environments such as the Metaverse. Chiles adds, “The metaverse must engage in design and creativity from the point of view of the creator, not the technologist. To understand how people create and how we can bring our ideas to this new world. collaboration is the key. “

According to Maya Georgieva, director of Education Futures / XReality Center at The New School in New York, the construction of these new spaces should be multidisciplinary. “We should ask our students to think like the architects and designers of these virtual spaces and worlds, and to understand how to build knowing what brings people there and why they are pushed to it. Let us encourage our students to think, to be an entrepreneur. “said Georgieva.

And Sim observed, “In the same way that the game transforms the world of fashion, the same potential could also be presented for education. We could all dive into these research areas and work closely together, collaborating with researchers from different disciplines and sectors, as we shape a collaborative future for fashion education. “

This article is based on the live webinar “Fashion Education in the Metaverse: building the curriculum of the future”, hosted by TDFGA in partnership with Parsons N Ventures. Watch a preview of the discussion here:

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Joseph E. Golightly