Gucci is selling digital sneakers for $12.99

Gucci’s Virtual 25 sneakers are selling for $12.99 and can only be worn on augmented and virtual reality platforms.

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Niharika Khatri
April 12, 2021 9:06 pm

One segment of stakeholders will be watching Gucci’s digital sneaker sales very closely. Those who are concerned about global climate change. As an environmentalist I am very optimistic about the prospects of digital fashion. If digital fashion can absorb some of the carbon impact of the current fashion industry, the environment will be much better off.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) says the fashion industry employs 75 million people worldwide, but this progress has come at a massive cost. Approximately 10% of global carbon emissions come from the fashion industry (Source: Add to this a trend of people keeping clothes for less time, the era of ‘fast fashion’ is putting great pressure on the environment.

Fashion has an energy-intensive supply chain and manufacturing process. This includes growing the material, shaping it into the required fittings, packaging and transport. UN Climate Change has shared some facts that really puts into perspective how wasteful the fashion industry is. 10,000 liters of water are needed to grow 1 kilogram of cotton to produce just ONE pair of jeans. Even though so much energy is put into clothes production, 85% of textiles are thrown away when they could have been recycled (Source:

Digital fashion has the power to change this by replacing many carbon-intensive processes. Transport is an obvious one. Bundles of clothes won’t have to be shipped thousands of kilometers across the globe. Instead a quick download will do the trick. But consumer behavior also has to change. The ‘fast fashion’ trends of today put great strain on the environment. Personally I don’t know who is impressed by celebrities who buy an outfit to wear just once. We need more role models, celebrities and influencers to show themselves wearing the same outfits many times. If criticized for it, they have the perfect opportunity to highlight the massive environmental costs of the industry.

For the sake of the environment and future generations, let’s hope Gucci’s $12.99 sneakers are a success. Let’s hope this paves the way for a digital, more sustainable and less wasteful fashion industry.

Kaitlyn Mora
April 12, 2021 11:27 pm

Gucci selling its Virtual 25 sneakers is opening up a world of creative possibility. Fashion degrees and courses will be updating their programs to include digital fashion, which is predicted to bring in high revenues from a previously non-existent source. A very exciting time for the industry.

From a design perspective, you will be free from so many limitations you once had. Buffalo London is selling the Classic BurningFor, a digital only pair of runners that is literally on fire. They look awesome👌 Try finding a non-digital pair that has fluorescent flame. It won’t last long.

Unsurprisingly our obsession with social media is a catalyst for making digital fashion a reality. One online store called Dress-X sells only digital fashion items. You find an item of clothing you like and then upload a photo of yourself when making the purchase. In a few days you receive an email with your photo wearing that digital fashion item you bought. All ready for sharing on social media!

If you think Gucci’s digital sneakers are expensive at $12.99, Dress-X is selling digital coats and dresses for over $200. Welcome to the world of digital fashion💃

Tyler Mendoza
April 11, 2021 10:46 am

Gucci’s digital sneakers are a good example of something that sounds strange now but will become normalized over time.

When mobile apps were still a relatively new thing, say around 2010, app developers debated back and forth about having a premium or freemium payment model. Users of premium apps would pay an up-front charge to use the app. Users of freemium apps could download the app for free and then make in-app purchases. You would regularly hear people attack the freemium model. Why are you letting people download the app you worked so hard on for free? You’re missing out on sales! But developers and marketers soon realized that freemium users were valuable. In a Harvard Business Review article by Vineet Kumar, Making “Freemium” Work, research found a Freemium user to be worth 15%-25% as much as Premium user. The reason was because of the word-of-mouth and the ‘evangelist’ nature of freemium users. Now the Freemium model is normalized among apps and SaaS companies (software as a service).

With Gucci’s sneakers I see the same thing happening. We find it quirky and amusing that someone will pay $12.99 for something they can only ‘wear’ online, but soon it will be normal. I believe we have been building up to a virtual clothing industry for some time. Gaming is a good association here. You can have a normal character in a role-playing game. Pay a few dollars and you get an upgraded shield. The same with racing games. You can have your run-of-the-mill car that will get you around the racecourse, but if you want something to really take out the competition and look good while doing so, cough up some cash for a sleek new model. In many games characters have the option to customize their ‘skins’, which serves no purpose other than appearance. So in a first-person-shooter, one ‘skin’ could be robot-like and another ‘skin’ could be a character that wears medieval clothing.

The desire to look fashionable and stand out in the online world has existed for quite some time. It’s not unusual that big brands like Gucci are monetizing this opportunity. I’ve previously written how we are living two lives: – our lives in the offline world and our lives in the online world. It feels for many people the offline world is now becoming their primary life! With this in mind the nascent virtual fashion industry is just getting started and will only grow from here.

Olinka Kares
April 14, 2021 10:39 pm

I love that Gucci and other fashion brands are selling digital fashion items! 😍 I know a lot of people will roll their eyes at this concept. But let me share some insight into why I am happy to spend money on digital fashion.

Fashion is about expression and experimentation. If you can do it IRL then why can’t you do it online? Consider your Facebook cover photo. Have you changed it to make your profile page look good? What about your Instagram Feed? Hundreds and thousands of IG users take pride in having an aesthetically pleasing Feed. It is very possible you have been conscious of your online appearance without really thinking about it. Digital fashion is an extension of this behavior.

Compared to a regular shoe, the Virtual 25 won’t get dirty. It will always look new and I will not have to replace it. Also I will actually wear it (online)! Let me explain. Sometimes when I buy a luxury item, for example an expensive jumper, I am worried about dropping coffee on it or ruining its color when washing. Because I don’t want to ruin it, I find that I barely wear it 😅 I have a nice watch I received for my birthday 3 years ago. I have only worn it maybe 5 times. With digital fashion I can wear amazing clothes online without the regular worries I have with normal fashion items.

In our photos we like to stand out and be different. In many cases this can be achieved by taking a photo in an exotic location. Waterfalls, mountains, deserts are all worthy candidates. Or maybe taking a photo with an animal, either if it is really cute or dangerous. A cute kitten at home or a ferocious lion during a safari tour both generate many positive reactions. Wearing a unique digital fashion item can similarly make you stand out, especially if you can customize it and add special effects.

Personally I would spend money on digital fashion for the same reasons I spend money on fashion IRL. Digital fashion comes with many of the pros of regular fashion without many of the cons such as wear and tear.

Rayan Tanwar
April 13, 2021 9:57 pm

Virtual sneakers. Perhaps a strange proposition when you first hear about it. But give it some thought and it soon makes a lot of sense. Gucci has been smart and sensible to take its brand in this direction.

Smart businesses will always target customers where they are, not where the business wants them to be. This is why you see billboard posters when you walk down the street and it is why digital advertising is an enormous industry.

When YouTube became a major player in the internet space, it spawned the creation of thousands of ancillary companies. These included:

– Video marketing companies to help your videos get more views.
– Companies that sell accessories such as tripods and lenses to step up your footage.
– Creative designers to help produce the best thumbnails for your videos.
– Cameramen and camerawomen that can professionally capture your footage.
– Video editors to make your clips into a professional viewing experience.

The list is endless. Similarly when Instagram became big, a similar raft of companies emerged from its success. A very well known industry that emerged and grew from Google’s success is the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry.

Gucci could have stayed with its physical fashion items and not made the leap into digital fashion. But this would be short-sighted. Just like camera companies that didn’t adapt to digital cameras, fashion brands are taking a big risk if they neglect digital. Online is where the people are.

Now although Gucci isn’t a new company, its foray into digital fashion is essentially what those ancillary companies I mentioned earlier did when YouTube, Instagram and Google hit it big. Gucci is going to where the people are and not where they want people to be. So in one sense I see Gucci’s move as a smart move. But in another sense I see Gucci’s move as a necessary move for survival. If a major fashion brand feels it is above digital fashion and will keep doing things the way they have always done, they could be in for a digital reality check.

Digital products are nothing new. But in the next few years we will see more products they are considered physical-only entering the digital space.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rayan Tanwar