“Fashion is one of the first layers in showing your identity.”
Whether it’s digital or physical, the sentiment is the same.
A POV Studios is transfiguring how we interact with the metaverse, offering collections that serve as a call to action through thought-provoking storytelling. Freedom to express oneself, in a “yet to be defined”, landscape is one of the key drivers behind Tanita de Waal’s impressive body of work. With a life-long interest in fashion, gaming and technology, de Waal knew unequivocally that her calling in life was to create. Driven by investigating human perception, de Waal drew inspiration from the notable lean on digital connection influenced by the pandemic, and found herself at the doorstep of digital fashion. As part of her graduation project, de Waal dove into the digital fashion industry, dedicating months to teaching herself an array of software, asking herself, “What’s possible? What can I do?”.
For the vast majority, the concept of digital fashion is still too new to be defined. However, this window of uncertainty leaves room for progressive conversations. Fashion is a cardinal tool for self-expression. For this reason, digital fashion is feared by many. De Waal explains, “let’s have these conversations and make sure it’s not going to be one of those dystopian sci-fi movies. Hopefully it can be a utopia, but to do that, we need to have conversations about identity in the digital space.” A peer into the digital fashion space, is met by dozens of collections adorned with visual effects, like dresses on fire and garments circled by hovering icicles. The scope of design possibilities is limitless. “I felt like I couldn’t be me, so I focused my project on that. I think it’s cool that you want to wear a dress that’s on fire, but I’ll wear the jeans.”
For de Waal, this fueled the ambition to create her own dress code, explaining, “with everything I do, I ask myself, “would I want to wear this? I’m basically creating my own digital closet.”
Tanita de Waal’s sublime digital garments are each accompanied by a deeper exploration into the artistic process. These gems of insight add worlds of value to each piece, directly addressing de Waal’s mission of designing garments that serve a greater purpose. One exploration in particular is breaking the stigma of perfectionism in the digital space by celebrating the unexpected. “GLITCHCRAFT COUTURE” proves that “even glitches can become creative new insights.” A file import hiccup in Blender morphed the original digital garment into a glimmering, futuristic spectacle, demonstrating the coexistence of “precision and unpredictability in the digital fashion realm”. This unexpected piece is receiving an abundance of admiration across platforms like TikTok and Instagram, sparking dialogue in a space so focused on hyper realism and high resolution. As a designer, comparing one’s work to those with access to better resources is easy, but “having limitations makes you more creative,” de Waal explained. “It’s the same with cameras. You have the ability to create high-quality imagery, but we seem to always gravitate toward nostalgia. Focusing on these flawless, idealised outcomes hinders the creative process because you’re so focused on the end goal that you’re not open to new ideas.” “GLITCHCRAFT COUTURE” prompts the viewer to rethink digital fashion, serving as a reminder that digital fashion is undefined by wearability, resolution or perfection.
“Aiming for perfectionism within this digital space hinders innovation”.
Tanita de Waal for GLITCH Magazine
Digital fashion in the gaming landscape proves how broad and undefined the metaverse can be. “Games aren’t perfect. We have so many different aesthetics in games. We see hyperrealistic outfits, but then if we implement those same outfits into roblox, it’s very different. We often associate digital fashion with high quality renders, but redefining what it means in the digital space can be very refreshing. It’s new. We can still make it whatever we want,” de Waal described.
Obsessing over perfection is detrimental to creativity. To make an impact and to initiate change, one must step out of the box and create their own. The limitlessness of the digital space is undeniably alluring. The line of seemingly boundless possibility must be walked with caution, as we risk losing sight of what makes us human. Tanita de Waal’s mission embraces imperfection and challenges notions of the digital space in order to celebrate what it means to be unique. Amongst the sea of positive, motivational movements and wellness trends, de Waal questioned, “Can I just be me? Do I need to do the 6am morning routine to be perfect? I want to stay in bed until 10am, and I don’t want to feel sorry about that.” de Waal concluded.
What kind of impact will the digital space have on personal style in the physical world? This question surfaces commonly in conversations surrounding self-expression in the metaverse. From the mind of Tanita de Waal, “maybe it’s going to be like The Hunger Games, very colourful and surrealistic. Everyone will do their own thing, and I can only hope that my work can inspire them. If it doesn’t, at the very least, they may realise through my work that that’s not their thing.”.
Perfectionism is omnipresent, but the world needs forward thinking innovators like Tanita de Waal to continue breaking the stigma. Wear the jeans, wake up at 10am and celebrate what it means to be you. In order to encourage authentic self-expression, we must lift the veil on what it means to exist in the digital world. By raising the veil, we bring a comforting clarity to a topic that may otherwise have seemed too daunting or unfamiliar.
“As a designer, you have a role in helping people express who they are. Fashion is one of the first layers in showing your identity. Thank god we have this digital space where I can be who I want to be”.
Written by Ashley Jade Callahan
Words by Tanita de Waal Founder of A POV Studios