We are standing on the precipice of a total paradigm shift in how we view personal identity. As the proliferation of the metaverse approaches, the idea of our identities extending into the digital realm is becoming a reality. Just as clothing is a major part of identity-building in the real world, it will certainly be instrumental to building a persona in digital worlds. That's where brands like Virtual Rags, a digital fashion and 3D studio, come in.
Virtual Rags and the Burgeoning World of Digital Fashion
While clothing brands scramble to get into digital fashion as headlines around the metaverse continue to crop up, Virtual Rags has been doing the work for nearly two years already. Founded in St. Petersburg back in spring 2020, the brand can now boast a roster of collaborations with the likes of Vogue, Rebecca Minkoff, GOAT and more.
ONE37pm got a chance to catch up with some team members behind the studio: co-founder Roman Ryabokon and brand manager Anastasia Solomko. Before beginning the studio, Roman had a background in marketing, but not in fashion. He had worked in worlds from real estate and banking to gaming and artist management—linking up with Artem Shargin along the way. Shargin's rich experience in the music industry and start-ups led to the duo eventually starting the studio with the help of who is now Virtual Rag’s Head of Digital Design, Ada Frolova.
Frolova had an idea to get into digital clothing and picked up some softwares like CLO3D and Marvelous Designer. Of that time, Roman tells me: "We had no background in fashion, but a lots of knowledge in various other fields, good taste… and a dream." They started their process of creating digital clothing, but didn't yet have a marketing or public relations strategy. That’s when they connected with Anastasia, who’s taken that department into her hands.
Virtual Rags Projects:
The studio's resume has expanded rapidly since then. They have begun to get involved in NFTs with numerous creators/brands, and are working in the world of augmented reality. When it comes to digital fashion, the sky is the limit for potential use cases. "Right now, we have a lot of projects that we couldn’t have dreamed of a year ago," Roman tells me.
Establishing a partnership with The Dematerialised and getting involved in designing art for several yet-to-be-disclosed celebrities, Virtual Rags started planting roots in the NFT space. Roman tells me: “This fall we’re feeling like something big is only starting for us.” I was especially drawn to this project they did with Shoes 53045, The Dematerialised and rapper Rico Nasty. Anastasia told me of this project: "As for the concept, NFTs here are not only digital — but phygital, too. A limited set of them is attached to a physical pair of shoes, that you can get in your size of choice. If you're really lucky, you also can get 1 physical pair with a custom @riconasty’s signature." Combining physical and digital assets is a growing trend in web3 communities, and Virtual Rags is keeping in step seamlessly.
"Part of the point of digital fashion is you can create imaginative stories," Anastasia tells me. And you can see that ethos imbued in all of their work.
They even worked with Rebecca Minkoff on her Spring capsule, incorporating an NFT component into that launch as well. The NFTs from that collection, which are powered by Lukso and The Dematerialised, are available on the secondary market on OpenSea.
Finally, one of my favorite projects of their was their collaboration with Vogue Italia on the project VOGUE TALENTS.
To create this project, they worked with digital influencer Kuki AI, who virtually tried on five outfits designed by five incredibly talented designers chosen for the event. Each digital look was made in 3D by Virtual Rags Studio and was minted by The Dematerialised as special NFTs; the drop sold out in under an hour.
Everything mentioned so far is barely scratching the surface. They're working with musicians on merch, creating 3D models for brands like Axel Arigato and Telfar, and working on creating a virtual atelier with CALA. Browse through their IG to see everything they've been working on to date.
Near the beginning of our conversation, Anastasia tells me: "With 3D technology, you can create really extra things." I loved that.
While brands scramble to get into digital wearables in the next few weeks, months and years, studios like Virtual Rags are already well ahead of the game. With an impressive roster of collaborations under their belt and so many balls already in the air, this is far from the last we'll hear from Virtual Rags. I can't wait to see what other extra projects are on the horizon.
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