Thirteen years ago, 7-year-old cSapphire started playing Roblox — a simple building-block game that has evolved into an expansive virtual universe where users wield creative control over the games they play and the avatars they create. But after four years of using Robux — the virtual currency on Roblox — to customize her character, she was frustrated by the lack of sartorial options. None reflected her personal style. So, she did something about it — and taught herself how to design her own virtual clothing.
Now, cSapphire, at 20 years old, is one of the most sought-after virtual clothing designers on Roblox, striking partnerships with brands and becoming the first recipient of the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Award of Metaverse Design. “It was personal at first, but I decided to put my clothing on sale to see if people would buy them, and they slowly did,” says cSapphire, who launched a fashion group in 2015 to unite clothing designers (complete with judges and themed runway shows). In 2018, she started earning money for the designs she uploaded, describing her aesthetic then as “casual boho,” often drawing inspiration from Tumblr. “I’m one of the OGs. A lot of designers look up to me because I’ve been doing it for so long.” And as one of the firsts, she didn’t have access to the virtual garment-making tutorials and resources that are so prevalent today (it’s why, cSapphire says, clothing design on Roblox is more popular than ever).
While, yes, it’s easy to discern a “bad” design (like not adding textures or copying-and-pasting designs and logos from real-life clothing), she doesn’t consider any design as “bad,” because “I started where the ‘bad’ designers started,” she says. “It’s all a learning process, and it’s not very hard to learn — you just have to be dedicated.”
cSapphire is heralded as something of a virtual apparel-designing doyenne — and it’s evident by the popularity of her designs (her best-selling outfit to date is an early creation: a gray hoodie with a black bandeau that has seen about 600,000 sales), of which she uploads once or twice a year as these substantial 20-look collections.
According to the Roblox’s 2021 report, the top-selling items on the platform last year were dominated by “casual wear,” which is indicative of how players want to dress their avatars: ‘fits that mimic real-world clothing. And that’s what makes virtual clothing creation so compelling for both new and veteran designers — the vast ocean of inspiration from IRL collections that would fit seamlessly in the metaverse, like say H&M‘s trend-forward spring drop (starting at $9.99 with sizes XXS to XXL and 0 to 18 in bottoms), which features eye-catching highlighter-green tie-front tops, ’90s-style distressed denim, outsized denim shackets, and Y2K-esque crop tops.