At a recent presentation in New York, students at the Parsons School of Design presented outfits they designed over the course of a semester. The looks include a pale pink turtleneck top and pants patterned in deep sea-style patterns, a strapless mini dress made of shimmering gold feathers, and a lace-up print dress of gravity-defying water drops spinning around the globe. But none of the garments are modeled by humans. They don't even exist in the physical world.
The nine looks of the students of the Parsons class were made inRoblox, the vast universe of online games that millions of parents can't get their kids to talk about. Those same kids will soon be able to buy and wear Parsons' designs, or at least their digital counterparts.
The final presentation is crowning glory.a one semester courseOffered for the first time this year by Parsons in association with Roblox. It's intended as a way to give students hands-on experience with tools that could become increasingly relevant in their future careers, she says.kyle lee, Assistant Professor of Design and Communication Technology who taught the course.
“We as a university wanted to work on this project because we want to learn what skills students need to be successful on this platform,” Li says. “[Roblox] is also interested in expanding its audience from 12 and under to 17. to move to 24. And I thought, 'We have the perfect specimen to test all these things.'
Although some of the students who applied for and were accepted to the course come from the traditional fashion and apparel industries, the class had a variety of experiences ranging from game design to architecture.
yoshe li(no relation to Kyle Li) had never actedRobloxbut before taking the course, compare the digital clothing in the game with the choice of an outfitwild, where digital clothing is more obviously an extension of self-expression.
"It's funny that when it rains, we go home and put on raincoats," Li says of playingWildwechsel."It's very similar to when I playedRobloxwith my friends. We followHegame scene, and we changed our clothes to match that game scene. and we are going toHeone, and then we have to like the change for that.”
Zhenyu Yang, a Parsons student with a background in fashion, says he was struck by how easy it was to create clothing digitally and how many possibilities the medium opened up. For one project, he digitally recreated a physical garment that he had made in the past. Except this time he didn't have to wander the New York Garment District looking for just the right size bones. The weight of the clothing is also irrelevant: there is no need to build it to be physically wearable.
"Working digitally gives you a lot of freedom in terms of the structures you want," says Yang. For another project, he and a partner created a silver and green cyborg suit with separate chest, leg, and shoulder armor inspired by the anime he grew up watching. “[The cyborg armor] won't work in real life. [It could] be made of metals or some other material, it's just not possible for humans to use it."
But digital fashion comes with its own limitations.Lea Melendezhe's part of a team that designed an asymmetrical jacket that looks like it's made of stretched and compressed disco balls, and a black bodysuit with a corkscrew spiral going down one leg. Melendez's outfit, with its many reflective panels on every part of the jacket, was initially too detailed to walk around in.Roblox, which has its own set ofRequirementsfor items offered for sale in the marketplace. Melendez and his partner needed to reduce the level of 3D detail in the digital design.
Although Roblox collaborated with Parsons on this course, the digital craze exists beyond the game.Fourteen daysPlayers have an ever-changing selection of limited-edition in-game skins to purchase and apply to their avatars, including ones that resemble them.famousostar wars characters. When Meta opened a clothing and accessories store for her avatars,Designer Sweatshirts and Suitsthey were among the first items offered for sale. The promise of the so-called metaverse is that people can take their objects with them anywhere in digital spaces. But on all platforms likeRobloxthey are the main ecosystems in which these goods are produced and consumed, and one of the few with an audience willing to pay money for them.
Yang was the only student in the class of about 20 who had aRobloxaccount before taking the course, and rarely played, he says. Even Li, the teacher, hadn't playedRobloxbefore his course began. Her youngest son, on the other hand, completes tasks for money to buy Robux, the in-game currency used to buy clothes and other digital goods. Yang imagines that the audience for his cyborg suit is kids who like the same things he did when he was younger.
This is one of the biggest tensions there is.Roblox– no matter how you slice it, the demographic is young. The company has been working to target slightly older users.introduceFeatures like age-restricted games, ad revenue sharing, and fewer language restrictions (older kids can swear!). Last week,RobloxFounder and CEO David Baszuckiimplicitthat more mature experiences like dating, movie screenings or news could be the future of the platform. The Parsons course is an extension ofRobloxI'm trying to show that it's a viable and legitimate adult life tool.
For the Parsons students in the class, this is the alternate reality.RobloxIt's not primarily a gaming platform because almost none of them use it that way. It is a potential way to earn money from your work and a place where jobs could be created in the future. Digital garments can be used for companies like B. be extremely profitableRoblox-epic games for examplemade almost $50 milliononly on a number of player-purchased NFL game skins.
Roblox needs developers like the Parsons students for its platform. For the most part, the company doesn't make its own games or "experiences," instead relying on a variety of developers to create content, from beginners, including kids, to more established studios with employees. Roblox representatives participated in invited lectures and discussions, and provided technical assistance and troubleshooting for students in creating their digital designs.course clothing, which is in the process of being uploaded for saleRoblox,ranges from 70 to 100 Robux or about 88 cents to $1.25 (Robloxtakes a deduction from sales for purchases at the market).
"If you stop creating content, people will forget about you after a month or two."
For developers, the promise ofRobloxit was that they, too, could achieve great success and make a living from the game, but success is by no means guaranteed. There wascriticismin the past howRobloxit could be exploitative for little kids who think they can make money on the platform and never end up making a profit. last fall,RobloxHe said the vast majority of people who made money on the platform were over the age of 18 and all 1,000. The best developers earned around $32,000 per year.
"There is a lot of competition and people forget," says Li, the instructor. "If you stop creating content, people will forget about you after a month or two."
Schools like Parsons hope to close the gap between what students do in the classroom and the jobs they might have after graduation. And while tech companies like Epic Games, Roblox, and Meta pour resources into creating trendy events and spaces in the metaverse, one can't help but feel that brands are still being built for limited audiences and not as a mundane part of life. the lives of most people. are.
in goalworlds horizon, some users who remain in the digital realm arefuriouson how the company is handling creator concerns, and before thatNot many people use Horizon first of all. In it2nd Annual Decentraland Metaverse Fashion Weekin April, for example, well-known brands such as Coach,Way, and Balenciaga met in virtual spaces to exhibit (and sell) digital products. However, there were few visitors and the exhibits ranged from beautiful to unkempt and boring. What's the point of walking through a dead digital mall when you could do the same in person? Do you have a soft pretzel on the side?
All of the students I spoke to said they intend to use the technical skills learned in the course, some just for fun as a creative way, others to incorporate digital clothing elements into their existing work. Yoshe Li, who is also a singer-songwriter, envisions a project collaborating with other artists and recreating digital versions of his most iconic looks. Could the skills developed in the course lead her to earn money this way?
"I hope the answer is yes," she says. For now, Li is happy to create for fun and for free.