A $55,000 Fashion Education Now Means Learning to Make Chic Outfits for Roblox Avatars

Sarah E. Needleman:

Younger generations are increasingly using avatars to represent themselves in the digital realm, and half of Gen Zers change their avatars’ clothing at least weekly, according to a study by Parsons and videogame-company Roblox.

“We dress in the physical world and we dress in the digital world,” Ben Barry, Parsons’ dean of fashion, said in a recent panel discussion. “We are in a new era,” he added.

So these days, some aspiring fashion designers are more interested in making dapper duds for those digital muses than actual models.

The more-than-a-century-old Parsons School boasts big-name fashion-industry alumni, including Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Anna Sui and Donna Karan, and it is where the first few seasons of the hit reality show “Project Runway” were filmed.

Parsons added an avatar-design course called “Collab: Roblox” this semester through a partnership with Roblox, which operates in the so-called metaverse with thousands of games and occasional concerts. Its users, many still in high school or younger, appear as avatars they can dress up in countless ways. The new course teaches students how to make digital clothing for those figures on the Roblox platform. No scissors, measuring tape or pouty-lipped supermodels are required.