Designers ditch animal furs and skins for technology – what is virtual fashion? – CapeTown ETC

If we backtrack a couple of hundred years, wearing animal skin and fur was not only the norm, but essential for human survival. However, we’ve come along way since then and the impact of over 7 billion humans on Earth has changed the balance of nature and how we approach animal products: from fundamental to fashion.
Leading animal rights organisation People for the Ethnic Treatment of Animals (Peta) states that there is no longer anything “natural” about clothing made from animal skin or fur.
In addition to causing the suffering and deaths of millions of animals each year, the production of wool, fur, and leather contributes to climate change, land devastation, pollution, and water contamination.
“Humans are enmeshed in a web of life that for most of us contains both wildlife and domestic animals. Millions of pets, companion animals, have a positive life. Unfortunately, for billions of commercial domestic animals, it is not a positive life,” writes David S. Favre (author of Respecting Animals: A Balanced Approach to Our Relationship with Pets, Food, and Wildlife). 
“While the welfare and suffering of pets are clearly issues before us, as they are physically before us, the death and suffering of wildlife is neither seen nor contemplated by most humans. More and more wildlife are dying as a consequence of the human plague scouring across Earth,” he continues.
According to Peta, 85 percent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals who were held captive on fur factory farms. Many of these animals are beaten or electrocuted, and sometimes even skinned alive.
Around eight-billion rabbits are killed each year for fur. And that’s just one targeted species. The amount of animal product needed versus the current human population no longer lends itself to a sustainable (or respectful) relationship between people and animals when it comes to clothing, writes Cape {town} Etc’s Robyn Simpson.
We need a reset, a reconsideration of the relationship between human beings and the other living beings of this planet.
Dressing for fashion versus dressing for survival are two very different notions. With that being said, fashion designers are finally ditching animal furs and skins and replacing them with technological innovation. And the results are stunning!
Introducing virtual fashion.
Virtual fashion, in contrast to physical fashion, is designed and marketed for avatars and virtual platforms. Recently, the stylish innovation has made its way into the real world and onto real bodies.
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It includes features such as:
U.S. fashion designer Asher Levine is one artist using the latest technology to create unique and cutting-edge designs.
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Levine acknowledges how humans have always yearned for nature: exotic skins, furs. Rather than contributing to cruelty, however, he questions how we can create our own skins using technology.
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He’s thinking for the future by introducing futuristic designs, and the fashion world is going wild. Celebrities including Doja Cat and Lil Nas X have both been spotted in Levine’s virtual designs.
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It’s encouraging to see people — from big time celebs to local legends (us Capetonians) — taking a stand for a more sustainable, ethical future.
Also read: Made in Cape Town – rad brands Robyn loves
International pop sensation Billie Eilish made headlines earlier this month at the annual Met Gala event for only agreeing to wear the iconic fashion house, Oscar de la Renta, if they went fur-free. And they agreed!
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Another fashion house making virtual waves is The Fabricant.
The Dutch digital design house’s founder Kerry Murphy originally came from working with visual effects in the film industry but wanted to pursue that same path in fashion.
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Auroboros makes a bold statement: 100% less animals, 97% less emissions.
Auroboros is also embracing science-meets-fashion. The label creates hyperfuturistic, real-life couture garments and digital-only, ready-to-wear garments that crystallise and morph over time.
The brand told IT that one in 10 people admit to buying clothes “solely for social media” and that those outfits can now be digital-only, which produce 97 percent less emissions than physical items.
Auroboros was founded by Paula Sello and Alissa Aulbekova (designers in residence at Sarabande, the charitable trust established by Lee Alexander McQueen).
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While virtual fashion has been on the scene for some time, it really exploded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has changed the way we live, the way we shop, the way we consume. We now live in a world where the online world has become as important as the offline world.
Fashion had to find a new source of revenue and way of advertising, and virtual fashion became that outlet. If this new wave contributes to a more sustainable future, eliminates animal cruelty, and encourages a new world of creatives — I say, why not?
Also read:
The panties that can change the world we live in

Picture: Instagram / @auro.boros

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