Digital Fashion Special
Roei Derhi: ”There’s a big challenge for 3D artists with no fashion education to understand trends”
The founder of Placebo Digital Fashion House explains what he takes into consideration from his past as a physical fashion designer at H&M.
20 Apr 2022

Introducing the forerunners of the new digital fashion industry. In this 16-part special, we list the most exciting designers, brands, and platforms that are helping our digital selves getting dressed to progressThis is part 2.

Roei Derhi is an Israeli alumnus of ­Shenkar College’s fashion department, who was recruited and relocated to Stockholm by H&M in 2016 to be part of the design team. But his journey around digital fashion started four years ago, after taking part in a startup company that left him with 3D skills.

— I found a way to use 3D to design fashion, a whole new and exciting world that I fell in love with. Placebo started as my art, becoming a digital clothing line and today it is a digital fashion house that provides service to digital brands, creates digital content and works with gaming studios. Placebo is the first digital fashion house in Sweden and in the Nordic market, however, people from all over the world work in the company, Roei explains. 

Roei Derhi.

Roei believes that collaboration is the key to success in the 21st century and that it’s likely that we’ll see collaborations between digital and physical fashion ­houses, commenting: 

— Soon we’re going to launch a VR experience as a collaboration with the animation studio, Parade. We will also take Part in Decentraland fashion week. There are many collaborations and projects ongoing, that for now will need to stay as a surprise.

The designer believes what makes Placebo special, is the fact that all of its designers have experience with physical fashion.

— It is part of our art to blur the borders between physical fashion and digital fashion. Our aesthetic is outdoor glam, we’re very detail-oriented and not just as visuals, it is a fashion statement. For example, when you put a pocket or a zipper on a digital garment it raises questions about the utilisation of digital assets. Those questions are challenging people to think about the purpose of a pocket on digital garments.

Considering that clothing will be an important asset within the metaverse, and therefore probably in the future of the gaming industries, there might be something for Placebo in these stores.

— I can say that there are gaming studios we’re in touch with for collaborations in order to bring Placebo and fashion into gaming. I think it’s vital to understand that there is a bigger need for gaming studios and digital fashion houses to collaborate. We can see more and more gamers that desire to express their personal taste through their digital representation, says Roei adding: 

— I think that there’s a big challenge for 3D artists who were not trained with fashion education to understand fashion, the body, and trends. We can see it, especially in the case of female characters and the way they dress, objectifying the female body and that does not represent the modern mindset of our time. Furthermore, it’s not a surprise that the new fashion is gaming! Fashion is the art of self-expression.

”In the case of female characters and the way they dress, objectifying the female body and that does not represent the modern mindset of our time.”

Roei Derhi tells us that Placebo fashion house specialises in the creation of the same garment to be used in digital platforms, but also comments that there is a big challenge and some complexity around it because every platform is built with different assets, engines, polycounts, among others, which would mean that digital fashion designers will need to be knowledgeable about the required adjustments for each digital asset while being introduced in different platforms.

When designing a virtual fashion store, what is important to have in mind for the customer experience?

— The user experience should be pleasant and comfortable. Keep in mind that digital platforms are providing comfort and escapism from reality. People will expect to see fashion brands create stores that transcend the laws of physics and reality, and provide the dream experience the customer is looking for while entering into the digital world.

In the case of the Nordics, do you think we are early adopters, or falling a bit ­behind in terms of digital fashion?

— The idea of digital fashion is not easy for a lot of people! I believe it’s no anymore a question of place, but a question of a culture gap between generations. For some, it’s easy to understand the value of digital assets. Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha were born into a world of screens, therefore digital fashion is easily digested for us, Derhi concludes.

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