Will Chinese consumers pay high prices for digital fashion?

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Scroll through fashion blogger @AlissaAling’s homepage on Chinese social media site Xiaohongshu and you’ll come across a striking image of her wearing a shimmering silver fishtail dress. At first glance, this might pass for a standard high fashion photoshoot. On closer inspection, there’s something surreal about the image, especially in the black, feather-like swirls that defy gravity. In fact, the custom-made dress is entirely computer-generated, created by digital fashion brand Yimeng Yu.

China’s digital fashion market is growing rapidly, driven by the desire to show off intricate and unique designs on social media. Proponents say this will play an important role in the future as more and more people get used to socializing in virtual worlds. However, limitations persist, and critics believe it’s a passing fad at best, and an “IQ tax” at worst (a term referring to charging more for something because that people don’t understand) about customers who basically spend money on glorified products. photoshop services.

The number of digital fashion platforms in China surpassed 500 in July, according to the newspaper Beijing Youth Daily reports. That figure is up from just 38 in 2021, according to think tank Hash Rate. Research firm Equal Ocean predicts digital collections revenue in China will exceed RMB15bn (£1.84bn) in 2026.

Alongside @AlissaAling, @Xuhmmmm and @Kiraqiya are among the mainstream bloggers now sharing virtual fashion style tips. Mentions of “virtual fashion” on Xiaohongshu are up 350% year-on-year over the past six months. In November 2021, the platform launched its R-Space digital collectibles platform. Last April, Shanghai Fashion Week partnered with R-Space to organize “Design Verse”, a virtual fashion showcase created by nine independent Chinese designers, including Annakiki, Chen Peng, Fengyi Tan, Haizhen Wang and Masha Ma. In June, Bytedance, the parent company of short-form video app Douyin (TikTok in Europe and the US), launched a digital fashion community and e-commerce platform called Pheagee.

A virtual outfit worn by beauty blogger @Xuhmmmm.

Photo: @Xuhmmmm

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