REDUCE, the world’s first line of digital shapewear, is designed to help users conform to online aesthetics by diminishing their digital resolution. This initiative serves as a satirical observation on the escalating trend of digital dysmorphia, transitioning the concept of physical shapewear, which aims to sculpt the body into an ideal form, into the virtual realm. REDUCE uniquely focuses on compressing specific areas into dense voxels rather than physically altering the body, thereby minimizing digital space occupancy.
The collection marks the first of a three-part drop of the overarching theme – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, mirroring societal trends that have transitioned from the physical to the digital world. This line, like others from DRAUP, was developed in partnership with the digital artist Patternbase, a notable figure in digital design and voxel artistry, recognized for their Cryptovoxels wearables and community-crafted Voxels collection.
The collection is characterized by its generative nature, where clothing attributes are algorithmically generated. These generative features, in line with the theme of digital dysmorphia, revolve around size and fit. Six varying ‘body ideals,’ each named after digital personas such as the NPC, the Stacey, the Facetune, the Default, the Big Boss, and the Slenderman, are algorithmically merged to craft unique pieces. This process results in one-of-a-kind items that reflect the randomness of the beauty standards they follow.
nft now: What inspired the concept of digital shapewear with REDUCE, and how do you anticipate it will contribute to or challenge current conversations around body image and digital presence?
Dani Loftus: For the three-part drop — REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE — we turned the sustainability motif on its head to reflect on three social issues that are exacerbated by our digital world.
As a woman on Instagram, REDUCE is particularly potent to me. We currently exist in a world where 71% of social media users admit to using photo editing tools such as Factune and Photoshop before posting their images online. Cosmetic surgery based on filter aesthetics is on the rise.
This is a shocking and sad portrait of our society, one in which the average person spends 864 hours a year on social media looking at images of perfect bodies that do not even exist.
REDUCE is our tongue-in-cheek commentary on this phenomenon. Currently, the phenomenon exists in an in-between state — we seek to edit not just our body, but our body’s image. And so, with this drop, we aim to draw attention to both the existence of digital dysmorphia in the current day and ask how it will manifest when our bodies themselves are digital.
When it comes to drawing attention to the absurdity of our obsession with bodies online, we’ve made sure the ‘size and fit’ of our garments are completely random (made with a generative system). This system produces completely random results and so deserves the tagline “for fits as arbitrary as the beauty standards we adhere to!” Equally, when it comes to conversations on digital bodies, we hope REDUCE will do two things. Firstly, draw attention to how bodies look online. Even though many of these bodies are unreal, with bodies created through Facetune or, more recently, AI, our beauty standards are determined by them. This results in literally unrealistic body standards.
Secondly, we want REDUCE to make people think about our imminent move from a world where our online presentation involves ‘curating’ or ‘distorting’ existing images of our bodies to a world in which we create those bodies from scratch. In this world, functional body-morphing clothes, like shapewear, are little more than fashion statements with zero practical value.
Could you elaborate on the technology and algorithms used to create these generative digital shapewear pieces, particularly how they incorporate elements of different ‘body ideals’?
A core tenet of our work at DRAUP is the idea that “code is the couture.” This thesis asserts that a creative use of technology is going to become the new high craft when it comes to fashion, with the skills of technical experts comparing to those of seamstresses and tailors in the couturiers of today.
For REDUCE, similar to our last drop with Nicolas Sassoon, we designed a proprietary generative system that determines the design elements of each clothing item from seed, at time of mint.
For this collection, that system was designed with the shapewear’s message at its center. How the system defines each garment, and what it defines, all comes back to the question of an item’s size and fit.
Where physical shapewear is all about perfecting your form in very specific problem areas, REDUCE shapewear ridicules that instinct by assigning your size and shape randomly:
FORM: Our generative system selects your form by blending together 6 different body ideals each based on the figures of internet legends. We have The Stacy – an absurdly curvy shape based off the narrative popular in incel communities around the stereotypical ‘hot woman’; The Slender Man – an ultra skinny shape based off the internet legend; The Facetune – a crazy slim-waisted body commenting on editing tools and body ideals; The Big Boss – a larger body size based off the character video gamers need to beat to win the game; The NPC and The Default which are both gaming based references for more regular body types.
Blended together to produce a random mix, each of these figures is present in a REDUCE item output. But, the degree to which each is present determines the final item’s shape.
VOXEL SIZE: Voxels (the building blocks for REDUCE digital shapewear) carry different quantities of visual information depending on how big or small they are. Just as your form in REDUCE is arbitrary and algorithmically decided, so too are the size of voxels making up your piece. So, the amount your shapewear REDUCES is also utterly random.
PATTERN SCALE: Finally, the scale of the prints themselves is algorithmically decided at the time of mint. This relates back to our random sizing narrative and equally means each garment is entirely visually unique.
How do you envision the audience interacting with the REDUCE shapewear collection, and what kind of impact or response are you hoping to see, especially in relation to digital identity and self-perception in virtual environments?
A great question! Since we understand our collectors will want to digitally self-express in different ways, how you can use REDUCE is fourfold.
You can simply have your piece as an interactive 3D artwork in your DRAUP digital closet; you can download it as a 3D glTF file, translate into a format you want and then wear it on your avatar; you can wear it as a digital render on an image AND to maximize who can participate, we’ve also created a FREE SAMPLE in the form of an AR filter created in collaboration with ZERO10.
I think due to this range, the impact we hope to make through this collection differs wearer to wearer.
For social media (the digital render user), it’s this idea of the digital fashion double take ie. when you take a second look, and question if what you’re seeing is real. We hope this questioning of the realness of a garment will translate to how we feel when we see images of other bodies on social media. Instead of accepting perfection and allowing it to fuel our own insecurities we should first question our perceptions of reality. Are these real or digitally manipulated? And, since our ideals themselves are so arbitrary, should we care either way?
When it comes to the digital realm, I hope that the collection encourages amusement but also curiosity — the type that leads the viewer to want to dive further into the narrative and begin to understand both its absurdity and how it extrapolates to the potential of a future digital world. This world can be an exciting one, where our bodies are elected and things like ‘shapewear’ have no functional purpose and are little more than conceptual art.
Since REDUCE is the first part of a 3-part series under the theme of REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE, can you give us a sneak peek into what we can expect from the upcoming parts, REUSE and RECYCLE?
REDUCE is the first of a 3-part drop — REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE — a set of 3 collections reflecting on social phenomena found in the physical realm, which are now exacerbated by our digital worlds.
The collections use each word as a starting point; a starting point to interpret their title in the context of digital culture. We went about creating each one by considering what it might look like to create in the digital with each word as a guide.
Outside of these titles’ influence on the creative process, the collections shed light on specific issues—social, environmental or cultural—that might have originated in our physical lives but are speedily taking shape in the digital world.
To bring these stories to life, each collection engages a novel technological process and a creative collaborator with a practice which investigates these subjects.
REDUCE sale will take place on the DRAUP platform as a limited-time mint, going live on 21 November at 12 PM ET and ending on 26 November 12 PM ET. Each wallet can mint between 1 and 20 pieces for the price of 0.028ETH, and each piece comes as an NFT accompanied by a 3D file (glTF, a 3D standard file format), which can be uploaded and worn directly to the avatar and as renders on a digital image. For those still getting their feet wet with digital fashion, DRAUP has created a free sample to try on – a pixel-inspired AR filter in collaboration with AR specialists ZERO10.