AI Fashion and Fashion in the Metaverse

space runners

Space Runners is creating designs for the metaverse.

Courtesy of the designer

Space Runners Could Be the Next Supreme

Have Decentraland wearables left you wanting a bit more than crypto company logo tees and basic hoodies for your metaverse look? Space Runners, the first NFT metaverse fashion brand and the largest independent fashion project on blockchain, is prioritizing both design and portability (to any metaverse of your choosing). Cofounded last year by former McKinsey consultant Won Soh and Deniz Özgür, the company has capitalized on sneaker culture by cleverly partnering with NBA stars to offer owners such perks as game tickets and signed merchandise. This year, thanks in part to a significant round of funding co-led by Polychain and Pantera Capital, the goal is rounding out both digital and physical apparel offerings (space suits!) and becoming the go-to marketplace for fashion brands in the metaverse by offering immersive shopping experiences online. Creative director Rohan Chhabra, a Nike and Ralph Lauren vet, “is always so excited because metaverse designs are limitless. You’re no longer bounded by physics,” Soh says. “Some of the wearables we’re currently designing for our second- and third-generation collections, like our rocket-booster sneakers, are designed to fly. Others transform into pets.”

space runners

A Greedilous look designed by virtual human and AI artist Tilda.

Jonas Gustavsson/photographed by Happy Monday

The AI-Designed Label That Took on NYFW

Two years after Hanifa designer Anifa Mvuemba shook up fashion month with her 3D digital runway show, designers continue to seek new ways to push boundaries, not only in terms of how they present their work, but also in their creative processes. Enter Younhee Park of the Korean label Greedilous, who teamed up with Tilda—a virtual human and AI artist created by LG to specialize in pattern design—for her fall 2022 show at New York Fashion Week. There was no overflowing moodboard, simply two words: flower and Venus. From there, Tilda created hundreds of patterns, which informed the collection’s bold prints and have since sparked interest from Miley Cyrus. Park offered another nod to her collaborator, giving her models brightly-colored bobbed wigs that resembled Tilda’s own hair and were an extension of the vibrant, futuristic aesthetic of the metaverse. “I saw potential in Tilda’s artwork right away when I was introduced to her,” Park has said. “It fit like a glove within my fashion philosophy. And I am so thrilled with how it turned out.”

tega akinola

A shoe design by Tega Akinola.

Courtesy of the designer

The Wunderkind Upcycling Jurassic Tech

Like many pandemic-era grads, UK-based Tega Akinola was unsure what the near future would hold as far as job prospects. But over the last year, the upcycled accessories she’s dreamed up­—often made from obsolete tech items and created at home with the help of her seamstress mother—have afforded the unlikely designer (she studied sports and exercise psychology) a full-time gig. “I wasn’t consciously thinking about sustainability,” Akinola says. “Upcycling was something I had to do, because I didn’t have money to buy new things.” Among her first and most challenging pieces were a bucket hat and a pair of block-heeled sandals fashioned from defunct cables, which caught the eye of APOC Store founders Ying Suen (who also acted as her primary mentor) and Jules Volleberg. Requests for custom pieces have come flooding in via Instagram, and Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra is a fan of the bags Akinola creates from secondhand fleece garments, logos intact. With so many of Akinola’s raw materials coming from sustainability-minded brands such as Nike and Patagonia (not to mention her interest in sports), a collaboration seems only natural. Here’s hoping.

This article appears in the August 2022 issue of ELLE.

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