A digital 'dress' sold for $9,500

If people will only see it online, does it need to exist in real life?

Ever bought clothes primarily to impress your online friends? Now you might just get the chance to buy clothes that exist solely online. Dutch startup The Fabricant, Dapper Labs and artist Johanna Jaskowska recently sold a digital dress, Iridescence, for $9,500 on the blockchain. It's not like buying a costume in a video game -- the creators will 'tailor' it for you based on a photo, and its nature as a blockchain asset both makes it unique and gives it value like cryptocurrency. It's also based on 2D patterns used for conventional clothes, so you could theoretically create a real life equivalent.

It sounds ludicrous, and to some degree it is. However realistic the clothing looks, the illusion falls apart the moment someone wonders if they can see it in person. And when it can cost as much as real luxury apparel, you might question the wisdom of spending that much money on something so intangible.

There is, however, some reasoning behind it. It's environmentally friendly, for one. Why use up fabrics on clothing you might only wear a few times? And for some people who have multiple online personas, this is a way of spicing up their image without shopping for real clothes. They're certainly not constrained by the laws of physics like they would with fabric.

There are already virtual models with legions of followers and even major sponsorship deals. It wouldn't be a stretch to make virtual designer clothes to match, even if it's unlikely to become as ubiquitous as the real deal.