As the fashion industry moves towards an increasingly virtual future post COVID-19, with the majority of fashion weeks announcing they are to go digital for the coming menswear season, it's a time for finding new creative solutions as brands look to both evolve and maintain their relationships with the customer. With press days and showrooms cancelled indefinitely, Agency Eleven asked creative incubator SENSERGY to propose a unique digital re-see for the A/W 20 season.
A play on ‘sensory’ and ‘synergy’, SENSERGY were conversing the interplay of the physical and the digital long before lockdown hit. Founded by London College of Fashion graduate Clodie Worboys, the creative design studio is founded on the premise of a hybrid-reality. Last year they collaborated with designer Sinead Gory to launch her S/S 20 collection with a VR rave experience at London Fashion Week. Then it was on to Paris, where the platform collaborated on Berlin-based collective Trashy Muse's AR Avatar Catwalk. Earlier that year, they were asked by the British Fashion Council to takeover the Discovery LAB during London Fashion Week Mens, providing an interactive virtual experience with 3D motion graphics and a bespoke face filter. They've also collaborated on an avatar-based campaign for knitwear brand AGR for Playstation's Playable, and have recently been running a series on their Instagram, 6 Days of Colour, opening up the possibilities of digitalising fine art.
Now, the creative incubator have created a Digital Press Day video in collaboration with Agency Eleven, transporting viewers into the closets of John Lawrence Sullivan, Martine Rose, Natasha Zinko x Duo, GENTLEMONSTER, KARA, Xander Zhou and Nicholas Daley. Part inspired by the infamous virtual wardrobe scene in Clueless, the avatar-based video is a digital reality dress up game if you will, with creative direction and animation by Worboys, avatar creation by Cleo Worboys and sound by CASHIN0. Try a full red leather look by Sullivan, one of Rose's crinkled checkered shirts with square-toe loafers, or see how KARA's chain-metal accessories come together. It's a new way of experiencing collections, that might just be the future.
In conversation with Hetty Mahlich, Clodie Worboys talks about creating the Digital Press Day video and fashion's place in a hybrid-reality world.
Hetty Mahlich: How did the collaboration with Agency Eleven come about?
Clodie Worboys: Agency Eleven approached me during the start of lockdown with an idea to create their press day digitally, due to their planned A/W 20 showroom being unable to take place because of the current pandemic. They had previously seen my work and wanted to collaborate to create a futuristic, immersive interpretation of designers' A/W 20 collections in a video which will live on their Digital Press Day website for their audience to engage with.
HM: How did you approach creating a digital reality for all the designers to co-exist within?
CW: I designed a video with a storyline where the viewer is taken into the closet of each designer, and an avatar tries on the A/W 20 collections. Unfortunately we couldn't show every item of each collection but we managed to encapsulate them with around six to eight garments and accessories (selected by Agency Eleven). The avatar ends each scene in one look, almost like the process of trying on clothes in-store. This approach made the most sense and created an organised, systematic feel to the video.
HM: Tell me more about creating the Digital Press Day video, what informed the final outcome?
CW: Agency Eleven were an absolute pleasure to work with, they allowed me to have full reign when it came to the creative direction of the video, which as any designer will know is a delight. They wanted the video to have a futuristic feel so I decided to take it one step further by incorporating computerised graphics combined with the alien-esque avatar wearing each designer's collections, giving the impression that the viewer is being transported to the future. Agency Eleven were also influenced by the digital closet scene in Clueless, so I designed the video to navigate the viewer through each scene, almost like a walk through.
HM: What does a virtual showroom offer that the real life, physical showroom doesn't?
CW: The video offers portability and practicality to the user, as anybody can watch the video from home instantly without having to physically be invited to a press day or catwalk event. In today's digitally saturated society and during a pandemic where we can't leave the house, this is extremely useful for those who wish to experience the collection somewhat further other than just looking at 2-D catwalk imagery. The virtual experience offers a futuristic world through visuals and music, for the viewer to interact with personally in their own time.
HM: What has the reception been like?
CW: Although Agency Eleven took a small risk, as it's something they have never done before, they've been overwhelmed by the positive reception from their audience and contributors. It has definitely made me question whether brands should think about alternative ways to communicate their collections instead of relying on a traditional catwalk or press day.
HM: As a result of self-isolation and social distancing, we're seeing the industry move further into the digital sphere, especially with the introduction of digital fashion weeks. What potential challenges might this bring and what solutions does SENSERGY offer?
CW: One positive thing about being restricted in terms of leaving our homes, is thinking outside the box to find creative solutions. Agency Eleven's Digital Press Day is an example of this really working. The digital sphere offers solutions and endless possibilities. However I'm aware of the challenges if the fashion industry was only digital, as we would loose the incredible social sphere there is within the fashion industry today, which I think is so important. There's nothing more important than to see, feel, touch and engage with all the senses that fashion brings us in the real world. But the digital world can definitely offer something new, and it's really great that the fashion industry is evolving and innovating. SENSERGY's ethos is about our hybrid-reality world and how we can bring both the online and offline together and that's what we offer as a platform.
HM: What do you find most exciting about bridging the gap between our physical and digital worlds?
CW: What I find most exciting is how something new can be created, in the exchange of these two very separate worlds when they integrate. There's endless possibilities and outcomes to explore.
HM: Any future projects we can watch out for?
CW: I'm using this time to work on personal projects as a digital designer and looking forward to collaborating with more brands and companies like Agency Eleven in the future. I'm welcoming any projects with open arms that may come my way!