Not all of my friends were fooled (three immediately asked if the ‘fit was fake) but all of my friends were fascinated. My friend Christina said, “The pants look painted-on, but I had to zoom in on first look.” She also said it reminded her of Cher’s closet in Clueless. Another friend compared it to Monster energy drinks, and another said it gave her Hugh Hefner vibes.
Having tried Tribute’s cyber garments myself now, I now see the appeal of it. I am often guilty of scrutinizing my outfit in photos, and if the fit is only slightly off, I will delete said photo. Looking at myself in these flawless virtual pieces, however, the end result had the desired effect that fashion should have: it made me feel good. Like me, but amplified. The only thing that would make the experience even better is if I could actually walk down in the street in these masterfully-slouchy pants. But I can’t, because that’s not the point.
Other virtual brands like this seem to be gaining traction. The Scandinavian brand Carlings operates on the same concept, and its team of 3D designers have been crafting digital streetwear since 2018. The Fabricant recently launched a film campaign that showcases an entire digital denim line, too. “We truly believe this is something that is going to shape the future of fashion, and it’s something that is totally zero-waste,” says Vrbanic. With waste being an ongoing issue in the fashion industry, the duo thinks their digital approach will catch on. It may seem excessive to spend $29 on an outfit that doesn’t exist in the physical world, but the brand’s founders see it as less wasteful than creating a new physical garment from the world’s limited resources. “If you recycle many plastic bottles or produce many organic cotton, it’s still going to be a problem—even a greater one, because when you produce organic cotton, there’s a lot of more water used,” says Vrbanic. “In this case, there are no external resources used. In a couple of years, everything is going to be digital.”
But Tribute likely isn’t for everybody. It’s for people who really love the look of clothes, and flexing it on Instagram. Will those with simple, everyday style — say, jeans and a tee — really purchase Tribute’s bold creations? Probably not, but personally, I see Tribute as special occasion wear—when you’ve exhausted your wardrobe and need something fun and outrageous to wear for a photo. I didn’t expect to be so taken by my avatar, but I am, and can confirm that spending $29 to be living for your look is well worth it. And if you’ve grown accustomed to seeing your online persona as an extension of yourself, the fact that these clothes are computer generated doesn’t matter. The result is the same.