hyper-realistic fashion: where the virtual and real world collide


photo via pexels and illustration by grace carmen

One of the hardest things a designer can offer in the fashion industry is novelty. Sometimes, it feels like we’ve seen it all and collections are just slightly different repetitions of themselves. However, a new trend is arising to keep us on our toes, and that is hyperreality. 


Relax! This is not a buzzword to make an aesthetic feel conceptual. Hyperreality is a philosophical concept that refers to the inability to distinguish reality from its simulation. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by AD Italia (@ad_italia)

Maybe you have been seeing hyper-realistic architectural concepts (like the one above), virtual characters brought to life, celebrity voices engaging in dialogues they never actually had (deep fakes) or some other form of content that makes you question if it is real or not. 


This concept has been working in the visual arts and music for a while, but now, in the AI era, it has caught up to fashion with full force. 


In a world where technology is present in the daily lives of most people, it is inevitable for the virtual environment to influence “real world” culture in some form. The merging between virtual and real life can cause distress because of the dissatisfaction with our mundane lives when the virtual “reality” will always seem easier and better. 


According to Instagram content creator Agus Panzoni, “If technology has gotten really good at representing reality rather than implicating it, like a cartoon, why can’t we bring implications of reality to life?”


To sum it up: hyperreality is cooler than actual reality because it is a concept that challenges our perception of the world. 


In the same way that technology mimics reality in the virtual environment, some designers are more interested in bringing virtual symbolism to our daily lives to ironize the development of our sense of perception and interpretation. One example of this influence is the Big Red Boots by MSCHF.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by MSCHF (@mschf)

According to MSCHF, Big Red Boots “are REALLY not shaped like feet, but they are EXTREMELY shaped like boots,” and aim to blend virtual and IRL aesthetics that has us chasing supernormal stimuli.


It is a cool concept, but imagine if you had never had any contact with cartoons, video games or any form of technology, and then it would probably look like a weird and nonfunctional boot.  


However, as our society today has the context that this shape comes from an outdated animation style, it looks cool because it is not something that we see in the real world; It is a practical application of something our favorite cartoon characters would wear.  


This trend can also be observed in other high-fashion brands like Loewe’s SS23 women’s collection with “Minecraft” and “Polly Pocket” garments and in Prada’s puffer shoes and bags.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by LOEWE (@loewe)

With an “out-of-this-world” feel, these influential designer labels are setting the trend on making clothes look unreal down to the materials they use. The looks have a playful take on shapes, lines and texture, reframing normal clothing into a statement that questions the boundaries of traditional design and the human form. 


Although it is a great way for a brand to get a viral Instagram moment for exposure, it isn’t made for everyday life, proved by one customer’s viral attempt to free themselves from the “big red boots.” 

@boweryshowroom Replying to @nampesos TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK 💀🤣 RANDOM CUSTOMER WALKS IN TRYING ON THE BIG RED BOOT AND GETS STUCK 💀💀💀 the slow mo got itt #mschf #bigredboot #astroboy #astroboyboot #funny #comedy #fashioncomedy #viral #mschfboot ♬ original sound – Bowery Showroom

The new hyper-realistic fashion wave provokes us to think about our perception of reality, while breathing fresh air into the fashion world. Bringing fantasy to the real world can speak to us as a society, representing our urge to escape the boring reality and need to be part of the perfect hyper-realistic world that offers constant stimuli. 


Coming to the point where designers have enough technology available to bring surreal elements to real life is exciting and symbolizes a possible revolution on how clothes are designed. 


Even if virtual reality seems cooler than our lives, we are finally able to blend both worlds and have astonishing collections as a byproduct of this collision. While we can’t control the influence virtuality has in our lives, we can enjoy the new aesthetics it has created.

Support Student Media

Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.