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In a world where life on Mars and a metaverse of avatars seem within reach, innovation is around every corner. The hunger to use technology to elevate elements of daily life as we know them is happening everywhere, especially within the fashion industry. Brands are always seeking out ideas to differentiate themselves and accomplish things that have never been done before. From virtual influencers to knitting robots, fashion has become just as much about innovation as design.

Virtual influencers have rocked the influencer marketing world, as fictional computer-generated people who have human-like characteristics, features and personalities cost nothing to the firm and give similar marketing benefits as real influencers. They have reached millions of followers—addressing huge untapped audiences and competing with real-life top models. Lil Miquela is a 19-year old Brazilian-American model and the world’s first virtual influencer. On the screen, she could be easily mistaken for a real person, as she boasts brands from Supreme to Chanel, and features posts from trending spots in New York and Los Angeles. Noonoouri, a virtual influencer from Germany, is following in Lil Miquela’s footsteps. She holds partnerships with major brands like Jacquemus, Versace, Swarovski and even scored a huge Dior campaign after making an appearance at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. While animated characters are nothing new, their occupation of roles traditionally reserved for real people represents a cemented interconnection of technology and fashion that is beginning to blossom.

From biodegradable glitter to fabric made of seaweed, these brands are constantly hunting for unconventional and innovative methods of creating sustainable and cutting-edge clothing. A major source of this sustainability comes from the natural world around us, like fruits and trees. The brand Algiknit produces textile fibers from seaweed, turning a biopolymer mixture into biodegradable thread that can be knitted, dyed, or printed on. BioGlitz is a company that uses eucalyptus tree extract to create the world’s first compostable and biodegradable glitter that mitigates the damage of the classic plastic glitter. The brand Flocus extracts yarns and fillings from kapok, a tree stemming from soil that is unsuitable for farming. Frumat makes use of apple pectin, a typical waste product, converting into durable and high-quality vegan leather.

These technological transitions are just the beginning of technology infiltrating the fashion sphere. What you may see as a cute pair of boots, is really leather extracted from apple pectin and dyed with natural products. What you may think of as a cool model on Instagram, posing in front of a trendy LA restaurant, is really virtual influencer. The fashion industry as we know it is changing, and these innovative brands are ahead of the curve.

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