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Web Summit: The Fabricant reveals plans to launch digital clothing via Zoom

By Esmee Blaazer


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A general view before Web Summit 2023 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. Credits: Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Web Summit via Sportsfile

Lisbon - One of the new products that The Fabricant will launch next year will be digital clothing for Zoom. This was revealed by Adriana Hoppenbrouwer, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the digital fashion company on Wednesday at Web Summit, the technology conference taking place in Lisbon this week.

Hoppenbrouwer stated that as many as one billion people worldwide regularly use Zoom. "And when you meet online, you have a digital presence. We already live digital lives," she stressed, "and it's my/our job to give you the coolest clothes to wear in those digital lives."

'The future of digital fashion is promising'

"What is digital fashion? That is exactly the question I asked five years ago," Hoppenbrouwer said, when asked. "I have over 20 years of experience in physical fashion. In my last job, I was head of marketing e-commerce at a major retailer in Europe and we saw that returns were high. Returns are a big problem in fashion," she told the audience. "During a survey, we found out that in 2018, 10 percent of returned items were used for a photo on Instagram."

"My other division was gift cards, where sales were declining. I discovered that parents were not buying gift cards for physical goods for their children, because they preferred a Fortnite card. (...) With that knowledge, Kerry Murphy, Amber Jae Slooten and I founded The Fabricant, with the vision of making a new business model that was emerging mainstream. Today, the prospects are great and the industry is already sizable."

According to a State of Fashion Technology report by Business of Fashion, consumer spending on digital fashion is expected to reach 135 billion dollars by 2024. In 2021, 110 billion dollars was spent on virtual goods, more than double the 2015 figure.


A recent success story

Hoppenbrouwer also shared a success story. The Fabricant recently released two pairs of glasses digitally from the collection of "the Gen Z, H&M brand" Weekday. "More virtual than physical copies were sold," she noted. The digital eyewear not only gained popularity, but also contributed to a double digit increase in total sales of the collection. "Which is huge, because a 2 percent increase in sales is already huge in fashion," she explained. "This shows that the Weekday community and fans want to express their identity in unique ways in the digital space."

Artifact 001. Credits: Weekday

Expressing yourself with fashion in the digital world

Jascha Samadi, co-founder and partner of European crypto investment firm Greenfield, took part in the talk 'Is consumer web3 having a moment' alongside Hoppenbrouwer, where he said he has been looking into fashion as a crypto company for the past two years. "Our clothing choices are a reflection of our values, identity and what we want to express or tell others,” Samadi noted. The desire for self-expression is deeply rooted in our culture and he called it logical that there is also a need for virtual fashion. The internet does not stop the desire to express oneself.

"On Roblox, for example, more than 100 million users bought or sold fashion items last year and there are 11.5 million users who have designed virtual clothes and accessories for their avatar," Samadi illustrated.

Finally, to answer the first question: digital fashion is not one thing, but it encompasses several items, the speakers made clear. Besides virtual garments, such as Fortnite skins for example, which exist exclusively in the digital world and are meant for digital avatars, there are also augmented reality-enhanced products. To these garments, digital elements are added to the real environment when viewed through an AR device or application. Chipped clothing, where physical garments are equipped with chips that bridge to digital experiences, also falls into the category of digital fashion.

About The Fabricant and Web Summit

The Fabricant is a digital fashion house and platform. Hoppenbrouwer said: "We work with big names and independent designers in the industry, mainly 'physical' fashion brands, whose collections we bring to life digitally. At The Fabricant, you can buy and wear digital clothes."

Web Summit is one of the world's largest technology conferences. It is an international event where tens of thousands of people, including entrepreneurs, investors, speakers and company representatives, gather for the latest developments in technology and innovation, welcoming more than 70,000 visitors from 153 countries this edition. The conference took place until 16 November in Lisbon, Portugal.

Digital Fashion
The Fabricant
Web Summit