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Parsons School of Design is entering into a multi-faceted partnership with Roblox. Ranked among the best art and design schools, Parsons has been educating students since the late 19th century. Now, looking to the future, the institution is offering a design course that focuses on digital trends in clothing and accessories.

Starting in Spring 2023, students will work with experienced designers from Parsons and Roblox to create new items for sale. Part of the challenge will be learning how to set up a retail space in the real and digital world. Physical designs will be on sale at Parsons, while their digital counterparts will be available in the Roblox avatar marketplace.

“We are partnering with Roblox to push the boundaries of speculative design,” says Shana Agid, dean of the School of Art & Media Technology at Parsons School of Design, in a press release. “Our students are diverse in nature, culturally attuned, and socially engaged and speak both languages of design and technology, they are creating the future in real time.”

Fashion, and the times, are a-changin’

Another aspect of the partnership is the 2022 Metaverse Fashion Trends report. Available here for download, the study examines the possible future of fashion.

“Gen Z consumers are spending more time in immersive social spaces like Roblox, where they have been expressing themselves through their creations and digital style preferences for over a decade,” says Christina Wootton, vice president of global partnerships, Roblox. “With their growing economic power and influence on fashion, trends from the metaverse are expected to have a profound impact on physical fashion, while trends from the physical world will also continue to move into the metaverse. The data sourced for this report further underscores why the next generation of fashion designers and brands will become deeply immersed in digital fashion — designing digital collections and dressing avatars.”

In the report, the companies polled 1,000 Gen Z Roblox players in the U.S. about their personal fashion sense. Some of the more notable results follow:

  • Half of the survey respondents say they are changing their avatar’s clothing at least every week, and for 2 in 5 self-expression (via clothing and accessories in the digital world) is already more important than expressing themselves in the physical world.
  • Just like in the physical world, community members on platforms like Roblox tend to connect with and react to others based on the way they look and dress, which can have a profound impact on their self-confidence and relationships.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 say they will spend money on digital fashion, and two thirds are excited to wear brand-name virtual items on their Roblox avatars.
  • Respondents note the importance of having diverse customization options for their avatars, and the vast majority also agree with the importance of digital clothing designs being inclusive.

What the future may hold

“Collaborating on this research with Roblox has made it even more clear that self-expression through digital fashion is important for digital natives and Gen Z,” says Ben Barry, dean of the School of Fashion at The New School’s Parsons School of Design. “Designers of the future will need to create in 3D and push the boundaries of creativity with metaverse-only garments, accessories, and collections that can be made available with lightning-fast speed to millions of consumers globally, on platforms like Roblox. As we prepare the next generation of fashion designers for their careers, we look forward to the future where this creative profession is made accessible to all through the latest technology and creators’ innovation.”

One big advantage to being older is that I don’t have to worry about looking cool online. It was tough enough keeping up with one set of trends, let alone another one for the internet. Luckily, the young people seem to have it covered.

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