Meet Anoeses – a brand arguably quite dissident with the taste of the average consumer. This young Ukrainian label, championed by Madonna, specializes in niche collections inspired by the BDSM communities. Whilst design briefs centre on notions of eroticism and fetishism, and many of the pieces have a clear functionality within these spaces, the brand is also aiming to push the boundaries of what can be considered style, and give sexualised clothing a more respected standing in fashion
The Anoeses website refers to a “symbiosis of erotica and style”, and explains how the brand is deeply interested in how sexuality can be moulded, shaped and fabricated into something wearable, and something that hugs the body to awaken the senses. Whilst I applaud their frank and unfettered mission to destigmatize sexuality and advocate empowerment, their recent partnering with Dress X definitely had me stumped and quizzical.
“This drop is dedicated to eternal questions about love, the illusions of our appearances, desire, and creativity generated by sexuality. All these topics enrich a variety of stories. And for us, it was a way to channel idea through silhouette, texture, cu-touts and bindings”
How can one feel the same level of confidence supplied by physical garments, by donning pixels in the metaverse? Is it possible to replicate feeling “sexy” through posting augmented “dressed” images of yourself? Or, is this just perpetuating the “fakeness” of digital culture, that has arguably animated the aesthetic inner critic from day one?
Dress X is the largest retailer of virtual 3D clothing. They are pivotal in the mission to digitise fashion consumption, and are helping traditional physical brands convert their collections into metaverse-friendly products. They have recently partnered with Anoeses, a brand all about supporting people in their discovery and expressions of sexuality, and equipping people with garments to reach this authentic self-expression. The Anoeses clothing brand is intimately tied to their secondary business, Anoeses Education, a platform that aims to provide positive education, and a safe space community to talk about all things from experimentation to pleasure.
Undeniably, from a progressive mind-set we can certainly commend a company who is fore-fronting traditionally taboo subjects, fracturing constricted gender norms, and promoting a modern and artistic freedom of expression. Their intent and choice to develop within their chosen niche is worthy of praise. What’s more, emerging from Ukraine, a country where social attitudes are somewhat intolerant to members of the LGBT community, and there is an undercurrent of disapproval of anything against the sexual status quo, Anoeses is definitely pioneering.
These objectives are certainly loud and continued through the brand’s collection imagery and media, which all aligns to voice the importance of body positivity. And, whilst their recent collaboration with Dress X definitely gives them an extended scope from design, and asserts them as a future-thinking brand, I fear it perhaps somewhat muddies their all-important message.
For me, there is a certain unavoidable fraudulence and performativity that comes with involving yourself with digital clothing. There isn’t the realism of personality and expression that exists in the physical world. There is an augmented nature to digital pieces, and an undertone of feigning. This sits directly at odds with the idea of expressing your ‘true self’ and ‘true sexuality’.
Dressing your image in minimal bondage-esque clothing and corsets may be great for curating a beautiful stylised social media feed, but doesn’t this negate the whole sentiment of being yourself and the sentiment of the brand. If the latex, leather and figure-hugging silhouettes of the collections are intended to incite a body positivity, and make people feel in touch with their senses, how can pixelized leather and latex do the same thing?
“Try on eroticism sewn from pixels”
This collaboration, although brilliant in a creativity sense, perhaps detracts from the overriding empowerment message. Digital fashion is a form of artistic self-expression yes, but ultimately it involves edited images, and thus almost encourages clients to change the reality of their appearance. Due to the erotic nature of the collection, it also seems to me that there is this uneasiness related to the idea of posting to placate the modern-day voyeur.
All this being said, this partnership is definitely a brilliant example of how digital fashion allows brands to expand more diversely. Clients, who perhaps wouldn’t have worn the bondage style clothing in the reality, might be more likely to ‘experiment’ with the erotic image in a digital realm. And thus, the brand is undeniably encouraging a journey of discovery and exploration for all. Anoeses thus becomes not just a designer but a facilitator, allowing people to ‘try on’ different personalities and address commentary about sexuality, the body, and gender through style. Albeit saturated in fantasies and illusion, perhaps this collaboration is showing us the flexibility of digital fashion. It all comes to a crux with the question of whether the ability to ‘become’ someone you are inherently not, is positive, or more of a danger in the digital landscapes we now have access to.
Written by Hebe Street from GLITCH Magazine