By: Yvonne Kwan
As you may have heard, the popular 3D virtual world - Decentraland, hosted their first ever Metaverse Fashion Week which included four days of runway shows, shopping, panel talks, and more. Who would have ever thought that “Fashion Week” would evolve from high fashion cities to the Metaverse?! If you’re familiar with NFTs, you’ll already know that the content is shifting from digital art to digital collectables. You can learn more about how these unique digital tokens can shape the world of physical assets here.
With Fashion Week being canceled across the globe in light of the pandemic, was the Metaverse Fashion Week that took place this past March able to fulfil what brands, artists, designers and show-goers missed out on? Everything that is expected from the big fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, Paris was present - except as a virtual experience. This immersive experience allowed anyone to enjoy the virtual catwalk shows, after parties, shopping, panel talks and more!
Big firms like Deloitte agree this is more than just a fad and estimates that the metaverse fashion industry could be worth $55bn by 2030 and Nike was one of the first fashion brands making an acquisition in the space last year, acquiring young startup RTFKT for $33m.
In this article, we’ll explore how fashion brands are beginning to enter the Metaverse and what that could mean for consumers.
Let’s take a look at some high fashion brands that have already joined the Metaverse:
Roblox, an online platform that allows its users to develop or play games, hosted the Gucci Garden, a two-week virtual counterpart to a real-world installation that took place in Florence, Italy. The immersive multimedia experience explored and celebrated Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michel’s, vision. The journey began when visitors entered the Gucci Garden and watched their avatars transform into a neutral mannequin, a blank canvas without gender or age. As they entered different rooms, the visitors’ mannequins absorbed the elements of the exhibition including being able to purchase and wear exclusive Gucci virtual items within the experience. (Source: Roblox)
Fortnite, an open-world video game, welcomed Balenciaga into its world where players can choose outfits and accessories from the high-fashion brand. A collection of Fortnite and Balenciaga products were available to shop for in select Balenciaga stores and websites. By purchasing the real-life apparel, it included unlocking Balenciaga outfits in the Fortnite game itself. (Source: Vogue)
Burberry partnered with Mythical Games’ Blankos Block Party, a play-to-earn crypto game featuring vinyl toys known as “Blankos”, to launch its first NFT collection. Together they released Burberry’s own Blanko NFT ,which could be purchased and sold within the game’s marketplace as well as other branded in-game NFT accessories. “Connecting with our communities in the spaces they love. With this exciting concept, we are able to unlock genuine value for the gaming community by encouraging players to interact with our brand in an environment that celebrates art, design and exploration.” - Rod Manley, Burberry CMO.
Burberry being the first high-fashion brand to feature in a game will only open up more opportunities in the future for gaming and fashion to revolutionize.
Perhaps, the gaming world is not of your interest. What else could you do with a digital fashion NFT and is this the future of fashion? Has this NFT craze exploded beyond just art and games and now disrupted the fashion industry with digital clothing?
These digital garments are made from pixels rather than textiles, which means the digital clothing doesn't actually get worn in real life. Imagine browsing online and you saw something you really liked but not sure of the occasion you could actually wear it? You could purchase the clothing and download the file where you will then model your fit on a 3D software so it’s ready to post on your socials! Some retailers now have a team of 3D designers where you would send in a photo of yourself and they will digitally fit the item you wish to buy on your photo.
Let’s take a look at the world’s first digital fashion house, The Fabricant. “We are a digital fashion house leading the fashion industry towards a new sector of digital-only clothing” as stated on their official website. The company’s founder, Kerry Murphy, believes that it won’t be a long wait until a luxury brand releases an entire digital collection. The Fabricant designed the world’s first piece of digital-wear which was sold at a charity auction for a whopping $9,500 on the Ethereum blockchain.
But what is it about digital clothing that could shape the future of fashion?
Digital clothing will become more accessible and because it isn’t actually made of fabric, this means there is zero-waste and reduces the carbon footprint. For example, digital samples are replacing physical garments during design and development which creates an industry that’s less wasteful and less environmentally impactful. (Source: The Fabricant)
With people not going out so much, digital clothing has been booming through the pandemic. Since many high-fashion outfits cost thousands of dollars, it doesn’t make any sense to splurge that money on a real-life outfit you wear once to upload to your Instagram.
If you are familiar with the gaming world, it might not seem as silly with the idea of digital fashion coming around. Gamers have been purchasing what is called “skins”, which are outfits purchased by players to customize their appearance in their game. Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion told Elle, “Fortnite fans rack up millions of dollars on skins for their avatars. And the fashion industry is only just beginning to realize that there might be an opportunity there for virtual content”
The team at The Dematerialised, a marketspace for digital NFTs, teaches you five things you can do with digital fashion NFTS:
Successful buyers receive an NFT and an owner can showcase a handbag or dress on VRChat, where tens of thousands of users interact daily through avatars—and show off their outfits. Founder Karinna Nobbs calls “the digital department store of your dreams,” sells nothing but virtual luxuries; it’s a marketplace for clothing and accessories that will only ever exist online. This experimental marketspace allows accessibility because although purchasing NFTs often means you need their accepted cryptocurrencies, The Dematerialised allows buyers to pay for their digital asset with a credit or debit card.
In summary, NFTs allow creators to monetize what they’ve created with their fans and followers. As fashion brands enter the virtual world, this only allows them to stretch out their creativity when it comes to designing pieces in a more cost and eco friendly way. So how will the NFT craze disrupt the world of fashion? Again, it shouldn’t be too long for many luxury brands to push out completely digital collections. Its purpose may not be to cancel out the brick-and-mortar experience, but to be more accessible to those who don't need to be hands on with the real-life garment. The NFT apparel will play a crucial role when we create our lifelike avatars in the Metaverse. Afterall, we can’t be walking around cyberspace clothing-less.
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