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Taskin: Bridging the Gap between Digital Fashion and Physical Reality
NCO 012
2023-04-03
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by
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In this interview, Taskin, a trailblazing fashion designer with a passion for digital innovation, shares insights on his journey from Berlin to London, the origins of his digital fashion experiments, and the importance of balancing physical and digital design. Taskin also addresses misconceptions about digital fashion and the Metaverse, as well as the promising future of AI in fashion production.

N: Hi Taskin, how are you? I know you recently moved to London from Berlin. How has London been treating you so far?

T: Hi! That's correct. I moved to London last September and didn't love it at first. Berlin still felt freer and cooler. But, I have come across some truly inspiring individuals by now and I had the chance to show a mixed reality collection as part of the official London Fashion Week calendar. This was an experimental format, and it's great to see what's possible in this city.

N: I want to start this interview by giving you some credit. You have been doing digital fashion since way before it became a trend. When did you first start experimenting with 3D tools? Was there any skepticism from your tutors and peers?

T: Thank you! I started experimenting with 3D software halfway through my Bachelor's studies in Berlin, around 2018. Nobody really knew what digital fashion was, including me. But I realized that I, and probably many others, consumed fashion digitally first, meaning that you would see a product or collection online before you'd see it in a store or on the street. I wanted the design process to reflect that and believe that not everything needs to be designed physically.

This seemed quite radical and clashed with people's values who believe that the physical is more real than the virtual and who find that we need to spend less time looking at screens.

Many in the fashion industry have overly romanticized notions about the industry and how it should be run.

For example, the idea of craftsmanship is often associated with tangible objects that are handmade. As a result, people believed that digital garments were less "crafted" than physical ones and required fewer skills, as the computer generated the visuals. However, this is not the case. Navigating software to achieve the desired result requires sensitivity, passion, experience, and a great deal of manual labor, all attributes that are fundamental to craftsmanship.

N: Ultimately, you were onto something. Between 2020 and 2021, we have seen the explosion of digital fashion. You seem to me to be one of the few designers in this space who is just as dedicated to their physical practice as they are to their digital. Why was it important to you to maintain the physical side of Taskin, as opposed to only focusing on the digital, where you have virtually unlimited resources?

T: The reason for this is simple: online and offline realities are intertwined. The majority of us live in both simultaneously.

Even those who don't express themselves through social media consume digital media of some kind. My aim is to build my universe across all spaces equally. The digital realm allows for extravagance and abundance during times of limited physical resources, while the physical realm allows for sensual, tangible experiences.

N: In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about digital fashion, Web3, and the Metaverse?

T: These four things come to mind:

  1. The Metaverse belongs to Facebook and has proven to be a flop.
  2. Digital fashion is less "real" than physical fashion.
  3. The Metaverse is either pink skies and chrome or looks like Blade Runner.
  4. Digital fashion is simply NFTs.

N: You appear to live in a liminal space between the traditional fashion industry and web3. Can you identify aspects from each community that you think would benefit the other if incorporated?

T: I experienced the digital fashion community as very kind and generous, with little gatekeeping as most of us are constantly learning new tools and trying to establish this cultural practice together. It's perfect for introverts and ambiverts who find it easier to connect via Instagram DM than at parties.

Often, it's about sharing workflows, new technologies, export settings, or other nerdy stuff. The traditional industry is obviously oversaturated and competitive, and this kind of support is usually reserved for close friends. Gatekeeping is sort of a survival strategy.

I don't think that web3 should look too much at how this industry works, but it should pay close attention to what makes its products desirable on an abstract level - what makes fashion fashion?

It's great to see what software can do, but it also takes vision, curation, and editing.

N: You have mentioned adopting AI tools in your practice, such as in your print designs. How do you envision AI integration shaping the future of fashion production?

T: This is currently my favorite topic because every week there are new mind-blowing AI tools released. For my last collection, I generated textures using AI that were realized as digital prints. That was fun, but the AI had a strong impact on the overall look. Therefore, I have now started to train my own models that design for me, in my style. It sounds as if I replaced myself, but practically this means that I can focus more on creative direction and curation.

I think fashion is a lot about building alternate realities, and with the help of these tools, it is possible to build insane worlds. This will again clash with some people's romantic ideas about human creativity, but I believe that only a tiny fraction of all artistic work has some irreplaceable, authentic, or even genius quality.

Creative work is, most of the time, a modification or reaction to the world around us, rather than the artist being a medium that expresses some divine qualities. Similar to machines, computers, and robots, AI will do more and more of the tasks that we currently do, even creative ones. We will still be guiding those models, tweaking and experimenting with them. And that's where the truly disruptive ideas will come from - the interaction between humans and AI.

All images courtesy of Taskin.
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