The height of innovation: Virtual fashion in a gaming environment

The coronavirus pandemic shook the global fashion industry. Shopping centers emptied. Huge brands suffered financial difficulties, and some even shut down forever. At the same time, digitization gained speed in every industry and in fashion in particular. Fashion chains and consumers began to accustom themselves to the new situation, and online purchases became the prevailing option. Each technological innovation further strengthened the limitless opportunities that were emerging.

Now the fashion world is plowing ahead, not waiting for the next crisis to emerge. Digitization has taken hold on all fronts (design, marketing, the supply chain, and more), and online sales have strengthened even as brick-and-mortar shops reopen. A cooperative project currently running between Delta and students at Shenkar is creating interesting solutions that combine the worlds of fashion, technology, and video games. Digital fashion is the key to the current change within the fashion industry, as avatars take the place of human models, leading fashion brands present their collections in computer games that are among the world’s most advanced, and clothing is designed and displayed by virtualization software. The displays look amazing and, most of all, they make the online purchasing experience more enjoyable and convenient than ever.

Over recent decades, Delta’s pioneering spirit in innovative processes has afforded it a position of global leadership. For Delta, as for many other fashion brands, the need to integrate innovative processes into every aspect of its activities is real and tangible.

As part of its cooperation with Delta, Shenkar College has included an academic program from among its range of specializations, under the guidance of Gali Bahat Eshkol, from Shenkar’s Department of Fashion, Dr. Vered Pnueli, head of the master’s program in Digital Game Design and Development at Shenkar, and Arie Croitoru, Israeli representative of Epic Games and a trainer in the use of the Unreal Engine for games and virtual reality.

The course’s students, from all the faculties of the college (Design, Art, and Engineering), worked in mixed teams to design and develop four platforms based on a variety of new technologies and offered relevant, practical solutions to the challenges confronting Delta.

FIXPLANET — A vibrant and innovative platform for the young customer community of the company’s Fix brand, linking the world of fashion to the world of gaming. The team designed and programmed an app with hyper-casual games in vintage 1990s style for the mobile phone. Players can win points that are redeemable for discounts on purchases at the shops.

Roei Zerahia, a senior faculty member and head of the internship program at Shenkar, said: “As a leading multidisciplinary institution, Shenkar has successfully run a practical academic course in which students from 6 different departments collaborated on solutions for real-life issues facing the fashion industry through one of the hottest disciplines in the economy —gaming. Shenkar’s cooperation with industry is expanding from year to year, and the cooperation with Delta simply proves the tremendous value the students can contribute to the industry while, for their part, receiving practical experience during their degree studies.”

Eyal Amit, VP Marketing at Delta, said: “We understand that virtual fashion shows answer needs that we had previously been unaware of. The coronavirus was a disturbance that resulted in important insights, and we know that the future will bring more obstacles. Through cooperation with Shenkar, we learned that we need to be ready to do things differently, and more creatively. The students took that to good and important places.”

Dr. Vered Pnueli, head of the master’s program in Digital Game Design and Development at Shenkar, said: “It’s a joy to combine two loves, teaching a single course to students with a penchant for fashion design and students who understand and love games. The worlds of digital gaming and fashion dovetail with one another. We see surprising forms of cooperation between fashion companies and the gaming industry. Balenciaga has launched a digital game! A few years ago, that would have been inconceivable.

“I think that very soon it will be possible to introduce a course in designing fashion for digital game characters into the master’s program in Digital Game Design and Development at Shenkar. Game design contains an important element of virtual economics, and players today expect the digital goods to be of the highest quality.”

Gili Bahat Eshkol, from the faculty of the Department of Fashion at Shenkar, says: “We successfully brought about a true interdisciplinary connection—academics with industry, commercial fashion with innovative technology, instructors and students from different departments and disciplines, and limitless virtual worlds on the screen in a world under lockdown...

“The Department of Fashion that I come from has been among the world’s top ten for some years now. All our departments at Shenkar can claim amazing achievements, graduates who have earned international success, and a level of excellence found at few other academic institutions. I believe that the present moment is a wonderful opportunity for connecting all those symbols of excellence together, and all of us at the college are making increasing efforts to advance pioneering activities and connections both within the academic world as well as within projects of cooperation with industrial organizations such as Delta.”

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