Wonderland.

ASHWINI DESHPANDE

Lead designer of the digital fashion company, Republiqe, talks teaming up with Difference Makers for their exciting digital collection.

Difference MAKERS VR
Difference MAKERS VR

The advancements that have been made in the world of technology over the last year have been a wonderful thing to witness. With the pandemic inducing a worldwide embrace of all things online, every industry looked to the tech world in a bid to adapt to the new normal. And, the latest to do so is digital fashion house Republiqe. Turning towards STEM technology in order to dream up unique designs, the brand encourage us to express ourselves through this new sustainable medium. Teaming up with social movement Difference Makers for their new venture, the two brands set to highlight the new collection and the exciting moves being made in the world of digital fashion.

Speaking on the collaboration, Republiqe’s lead designer, Ashwini claimed, “This was important to me because the digital fashion industry is still so new; not many people know that such a career exists. In a few years, if not already, there will likely be a huge number of opportunities in the field, and not enough talent to fill the positions. As an early bird in this field, I feel a responsibility to help young people understand what I do and how it combines fashion and tech, so they can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing what they want to do in life. So many people think that STEM is boring, but I want to show that it can be applied to any field, even fashion, and can actually be really exciting!”

Sitting down with Wonderland, Ashwini took some time to chat about the new collection and the importance of online dressing. Head below to enjoy the interview.

Difference MAKERS
Difference MAKERS

Hey Ashwini, how are you? How has 2021 been for you?
Hey! I’m good, just soaking in the holiday spirit! 2021 has been a magnificent, life-changing year for me! It’s hard to believe that just earlier this year, I was working on creating London College of Fashion’s first-ever fully digital fashion graduate collection, displayed in a virtual reality environment. I’ve come a long way from there to landing my current job at the first-ever fully digital fashion brand, Republiqe, as Head of 3D Design and Production and creating trendy collections for the brand.

How would you sum up 2021 in one word?
Innovative.

How did you first get into fashion, what sparked the interest?
I grew up in South India, a land of colours, textiles, and craftsmanship, which served as my inspiration. Although I was inclined towards science early on and chose to study it throughout my school years, I eventually decided that I wanted to be in a creative industry such as fashion. To me, fashion has always been about pushing the boundaries to create something unique and unexpected. Innovation is the essence of what I love to do.

Fashion has been affected heavily by the pandemic, what has been the biggest change for you?
The pandemic has pushed people towards living their lives virtually like we never have before. More people are working remotely and communicating via video calls, attending virtual reality events, and playing video games than ever before. The more time people spend online, the more important it is for them to be able to express themselves online through clothing. Just over a year ago, there wasn’t that much happening in the fashion metaverse. It was relatively easy to stay up to date on all the latest news. Flash forward to today- more companies than ever are trying to enter the fashion metaverse, with digital fashion, virtual and augmented reality, or NFT’s. As a digital fashion designer and innovator, it’s an exciting time for me and an opportunity to push fashion innovation forward, creating the future of the industry.

Talk us through different makers, how did you first get involved in this?
Difference Makers came across Republiqe’s digital-only fashion collections and reached out because they were fascinated by the talent behind the creations. That’s how they discovered digital fashion as a career and became interested in how my role brings fashion and technology together.

Difference MAKERS Ashwini
Difference MAKERS dresses
Difference MAKERS Ashwini
Difference MAKERS dresses

What does this collaboration mean to you?
This collaboration was important to me because the digital fashion industry is still so new; not many people know that such a career exists. In a few years, if not already, there will likely be a huge number of opportunities in the field, and not enough talent to fill the positions. As an early bird in this field, I feel a responsibility to help young people understand what I do and how it combines fashion and tech, so they can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing what they want to do in life. So many people think that STEM is boring, but I want to show that it can be applied to any field, even fashion, and can actually be really exciting!

It highlights the importance of recycling in fashion and being sustainable, how important is it to be more aware in fashion about these aspects?
Fashion is part of all our lives, irrespective of whether or not you’re a trendy fashionista. There is a whole story behind every single item of clothing we own. Fashion has a huge sustainability problem. Most of the time it uses and damages many natural resources, has a huge carbon footprint and is made through forced, exploitative labour. Knowing how your fashion choices are affecting the people and places they come from matters so that each person can make an informed decision that helps cause less damage to the environment and people.

What do you want people to take away from this collection?
Digital fashion is for us all, not just the fashion influencers out there. It’s simply a sustainable way to enjoy dressing up and expressing oneself online. It’s time we stopped thinking of our online selves as unimportant but rather an extension of our physical selves.

What are you most excited about in 2022?
So much happened in 2021 in a short span, I imagine 2022 will be the same. With the pandemic still very much present, I expect we’ll see fashion innovation thrive every single day, with brands continuously finding new ways to reach and engage with customers, as well as new digital revenue streams. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, with a lot of experimentation, uncertainty, failures, and successes to be seen.

ASHWINI DESHPANDE

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