The Future of Fashion

New technology partnered with creative innovation has always held the potential to create a transformative effect on the fashion industry. One of the historic challenges with collaborations between science & engineering interacting with the fashion Industry has been the two fields communicating in different languages, contributing to a lag between the implementation of new technologies that turn into in demand aesthetically appealing products. As a case in point, while working at DuPont American Chemist Wallace Hume Carothers successfully synthesized the first entirely artificial polymer with nylon in 1935. By 1939 women’s nylon stockings launched and rapidly became a widespread commercial success. However, It wasn’t really until the 1960’s & 70’s that synthetic fibers became mainstream and started to revolutionize the fashion style, with polyester in particular becoming synonymous with textiles from the era.

Recently, I decided to delve into the local scene in Scotland to find out what new trends are being discussed. Fashion x Tech is an exciting panel discussion hosted by Codebase Stirling and Startup Grind Scotland with guest speakers from the fashion industry and academia. While the subject is truly broad, one of the hottest debate topics was the metaverse narrative and fashions role in the exchange of digital good. The following is a brief overview of the topic and touching on some of the implications for Intellectual Property.

Metaverse

Generally, the metaverse is used as a catch all term for concepts that create a more integrated cyberspace in which there is an enhanced cross over between virtual reality, augmented reality and digital products. One of the prominent features emphasized in the metaverse narrative is the ability of users to act with their avatars within a digital 3D landscape. While this concept of operating an avatar within the digital communal space is not new, the massively multiplayer game Ultima Online was doing this in 1997 and the MMO genre has only exploded in users since,  one of the attributes that distinguishes the metaverse is the heavy focus on the market place of digital products that link with the real world economy. Many of these digital products take the form of graphic cosmetics for avatars in videogames, streaming platforms, gambling sites & social media profiles. This market for cosmetics is sometimes additionally packaged alongside a decentralised e-commerce platform reliant on blockchain technology; cryptocurrency for payment or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as the product.  In the case of NFT’s the premise is their inherent exclusivity would deem them desirable and allow the user to move portfolios of cosmetics across multiple platforms, although their future success remains a topic of considerable contestation.

However the market for online cosmetics has continued with grow. Morgan Stanley has recently predicted this digital space to be worth an estimated $50 billion by 2030, and is especially attractive for soft luxury brands. Often online cosmetics have been pioneered by small start-up designers but established fashion brands are begun to want their slice of the pie. We are starting to see these fashion x digital collaborations more often, with the likes of Louis Vuitton partnering with Riot games on League of Legends, and Balenciaga partnering with Epic Games on Fortnite. Given the general trends and the sums of money being pursued, combined with ease with which many of these products can be digitally replicated, it can be very advantageous for fashion company’s and digital platforms to pursue a robust intellectual property strategy to protect their portfolio.

IP protection for digital content can get complex. It is often best pursued with a comprehensive business strategy of different layers of IP protection covering trademarks, design rights, copyright and patents, which are all operating at different national jurisdictions for what is ultimately a global product.

 

 

At Scintilla, we help innovative companies get a grip on their intellectual property. Our unique commercial approach combines registration of patents and trade marks with strategic input so that IP can be a springboard for business growth. If you would like to discuss your IP needs, do contact us or book a free initial consultation!