Gucci Virtual 25 trainer in collaboration with Wanna

Gucci releases first virtual sneaker that can only be worn in digital environments

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has designed a pair of neon-coloured, digital-only trainers that people can try on using augmented reality and "wear" in photographs for social media.

The Gucci Virtual 25, named after Michele's favourite number, is a low-top, high-top hybrid with a fluorescent, highlighter green upper.

Virtual 25 trainer in Gucci app
Top image: Gucci designed the Virtual 25 trainer in collaboration with Wanna. Above: the shoes are available via the brand's app

The brand's double G logo is emblazoned both on the chunky blue sole and on a dial, which holds the shoes together in place of traditional laces.

Created in collaboration with AR fashion platform Wanna, the non-physical shoes can be purchased within either company's mobile app for between $9 and $12.

Digital only sneaker try-on graphic
Users can try the trainers on using augmented reality

This enables the owner to wear the shoes much like a face filter so they can take pictures or videos to be shared online. Buying them within the Gucci app also unlocks an in-game downloadable version of the trainers that can be worn by users' avatars on the virtual reality social platform VRChat and online game Roblox.

Gucci has previously worked with Wanna to create AR versions of its entire real-life sneaker collection so that shoppers can virtually try it on within the brand's app.

"In five or maybe 10 years a relatively big chunk of fashion brands revenue will come from digital products," Wanna co-founder and CEO Sergey Arkhangelskiy told Business of Fashion.

"Our goal as a company is to actually supersede the product photos... and substitute it for something which is way more engaging and closer to offline shopping."

Gucci Virtual 25 trainer wallpaper
Gucci commissioned a series of exclusive mobile wallpapers showing the trainer

Since last autumn, Gucci has also realised a number of its existing designs as virtual wearables for video game avatars, from creating a series of accessories for The Sims 4 to releasing its collaboration with The North Face on Pokémon Go.

However, Virtual 25 marks the first time that the luxury Italian fashion house has designed a trainer that exists only in the virtual world.

Digital-only trainer with blue sole and Gucci logo
The double G logo is emblazoned on Virtual 25's sole

Among the other brands making their first foray into digital-only fashion is Buffalo London, which recently released a flaming, virtual version of its platform trainers that were first popularised by the Spice Girls in the 1990s.

Unlike digital artworks that are linked to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – a blockchain-based certificate of ownership – these virtual items don't really belong to the buyer as they cannot be re-sold.

Rather, users simply buy the right to wear the shoes, much like buying music on iTunes only gives the user permission to listen to a song.