The Rise of the Digital Fashion Ecosystem

Arya Almeda
6 min readJun 8, 2021


As most people probably realize by now, digital trends are changing the face of almost every industry on the planet, and the fashion industry is no exception in this regard. Hastened by the pandemic, the transformation of the fashion world’s digital ecosystem has resulted in changes that might have previously been considered fantastical.

The boom in e-commerce has caused the behemoths in the fashion industry to focus on creating a new vision for fashion, one that results in new strategies, defines the future of digital fashion, re-organizes the way fashion is manufactured and distributed, and creates a new operating model. The rise of social marketplaces has allowed for a seamless link between online fashion influencers and customers. But how did it all start?

The Digital Transformation of Fashion

You might be old enough to remember the early days of the internet with that painfully slow dial-up access, but those days are gone. As the internet has become increasingly accessible, even in remote areas of the world and the poorest countries, it has been rapidly changing consumer habits and buying patterns.

E-commerce has become commonplace, and most people — a full 75 percent — nowadays look online for trends to influence their purchasing decisions. This is perhaps nowhere more true than in the fashion industry, although the change there has been somewhat slower than in other industries.

The fashion industry has long been pressured to become more sustainable, given the increasingly apparent effects of climate change. It has also been under pressure to ensure ethical practices in fashion production. But the rise of fast fashion with its weekly rollout of new collections threatened to undermine any real change, that is until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The global lockdowns forced the fashion industry to adopt digital methods for creating prototypes and showcasing label collections. Companies like DIGITALAX have created digital fashion design laboratories, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and blockchain technologies that can be used to streamline hybrid digital fashion supply chains and produce purely digital clothing for online influencers and skins for gaming avatars.

Fashion shows are also using digital technology to reduce their carbon footprint and create a work-around for lockdowns. In October of 2020, the Lakmé Fashion Week held the first virtual fashion show on a digital platform created specifically for the event. Moreover, the event itself was open to everyone and focused on sustainable fashion.

These digital changes have allowed the fashion industry to reduce waste as well as lead times, and it also allows for the streamlining of the physical production of garments in a post-lockdown world. Still, other fashion industry visionaries are looking to reinvent their business models to focus on shifting consumer desires and e-commerce behaviors.

Pure Digital Fashion

One of the new digital trends that fashion entrepreneurs are devising is that of purely digital fashion with no physical output. How does that work?

It turns out that there is considerable demand for the consumption of purely digital fashion content. Anyone who has purchased a skin in a video game — some of which are produced by Gucci and Nike — is familiar with the concept of digital-only clothing.

Basically, shoppers interested in purchasing a garment that they will be shown wearing in an image can go into a company’s e-commerce store and easily purchase the item. They will then upload a photo of themselves, and the digital garment is then placed on their body in the image. From there, they are ready to post it online.

There is a growing market for digital clothing since it provides the consumer with an easy way to create trendy images without having to actually purchase the physical garment. In fact, there are a growing number of well-known global brands that want in on this digital transformation, and companies like DIGITALAX are leading the way. But that’s not the only way in which the digital ecosystem is changing the fashion industry.

Online Influencers and Digital Fashion

Lifestyle influencers are on the cusp of their own revolution that will create radical changes in the relationship between influencers and customers. Because of the digital transformation in e-commerce, lifestyle influencers, bloggers, and rogue celebrities are giving traditional fashion magazines a run for their money.

Digital trends are making it easier for consumers to scroll their favored influencers and more easily access the fashion manufacturer’s website to make purchases. Because the fashion industry has been forced to innovate, they are making changes that facilitate consumers’ ability to access their products directly from the influencer’s platform. Previously, you had to search separately for the best prices and buy one product at a time.

One of the most significant changes linking lifestyle influencers, customers, and fashion retailers is found in social marketplaces. Digital trends in social marketplaces have reoriented the business model from a social lifestyle marketplace to a marketplace for lifestyle traffic.

In some of the most successful models, like Apple, retailers will pay for traffic from top influencers such as leading fashion bloggers and fashion magazines. In this marketplace, you can browse your favorite fashion magazine or blogger for the trends you like, and then, with just a few clicks, you can buy an entirely new look.

As a result of their success with this model, Apprl has attracted seasoned lifestyle professionals, and the company now has contracts with ELLE Magazine, Project Runway, and Top Model. Undoubtedly, the marketplace for this kind of e-commerce experience will grow both within and outside the fashion industry.

Sustainability and Digital Fashion

The reality is that change is imminent in the fashion industry, and the changes coming must result in a more sustainable and ethical fashion. The digital transformation of fashion is creating more digital consumers and driving changes in the industry’s trends.

In fact, purely digital fashion is the new fast fashion, and what could be faster than digital? Such changes in fashion’s digital ecosystem are helping reduce the considerable carbon footprint for which the industry is notorious. It’s not only digital clothing that’s driving this reduction but also the rise of digital design laboratories and sampling, both of which significantly reduce resource use and textile waste.

While digital garments are not 100 percent sustainable, consider that the physical production of one man’s white T-shirt produces 6.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Compared to just 0.31 kilograms produced by one hour spent creating a digital garment, that’s a 95 percent reduction in the carbon footprint.

What’s more, with a change to digital platforms, workers have a different experience too. They can create garments online from the comfort of their home, resulting in more ethical working conditions.

To Sum It All Up

The fashion industry simply had to adapt to survive in a post-lockdown world where digital trends rule the day. The digital transformation created an innovative way for customers to experience constant fashion novelties for their online persona utilizing purely digital garments.

Moreover, the digital trends in fashion designing and sampling and digital clothing production, as seen with DIGITALAX, are changing the way we produce the clothing we wear. It is truly a brave new post-COVID world, but the question remains, will these trends continue once we return to a more normal reality?

The answer to that question likely lies in consumer demands. As customers have an opportunity to experience new digital innovations, surely some will remain and grow in popularity while others will fade from the marketplace.

In a world where climate change is causing one disaster after the next, even the fashion industry must become greener. The digital trends that grew out of the pandemic are now leading the way toward a better, more sustainable future.