March 23, 2022

The Ever Growing Role of the Fashion Metaverse & What We Can Expect

Theren Moodley
Theren Moodley
A decade's worth of fashion experience across; product design, development, sourcing & logistics

Is the fashion metaverse the most talked out thing in fashion-tech currently? Probably.

Did the first draft of this blog get written a few months ago during NY Fashion week? Definitely.

Is it still worth me taking the time to write it now? I'll let you decide.

Fashion is going digital? Not 3D sampling, e-commerce, digital showrooms digital, but Metaverse digital (there I said it....) 🥽

But before we get into it here's a quick summary our the blog:

  • What is digital fashion - This is fashion assets such as; tops, jackets, shirts etc created purely in a 3D digital form to be worn by a digital avatar of similar in a virtual world
  • What is the role of the metaverse - The metaverse offers fashion brands and consumers a new way of consumption and individualisation not limited to the physics of the physical world
  • How the metaverse is changing fashion - Brand may now have to focus on physical and digital product strategies that require completely different teams, skills and outputs
  • Is the metaverse the future of fashion - Champions have argued the metaverse is a way to solve fashion sustainability problem, with less physical garments needed to be created, therefore less potential waste.

Fashion tech meme about the fashion metaverse
Shoutout to those solving the day to day problems

What is the metaverse?

But first, before we can discuss is the metaverse the future of fashion, or how is the metaverse changing the fashion industry, we need to know what is is.

No one can really say yet, because no one knows exactly how it will play out.

The first era of the internet facilitated the transmission of information, while Web 2.0 connected people, creating the sharing economy dominated by companies like Google.

Now, we’re at the evolution of Web 2.0 heading into Web 3.0, which will connect people, locations, and things.

And all these people, spaces, and assets can be, sometimes, in a fully virtual environment. It’s not one technology and it’s not one company, sorry Mark.

And while the metaverse can be experienced in virtual spaces, as what’s typically called “virtual reality,” that’s not the only way we’ll experience it.

The fashion metaverse

Some would say digital fashion and fashions foray into the metaverse begun when fashion house Balenciaga announced its collaboration with Fortnite in 2021, which was quickly followed by an amazing marketing campaign around Time Square 🗽

However that was just the start.

What followed was the same Balengica debuting their NYC collection as part of Simpsons sketch, he who shall not be named announcing his own 'evil, not evil, definitely evil version' of the Metaverse, and finally rounding off with brands such as Nike patenting their logo in VR.

What we can see therefore brands are moving full throttle into the fashion metaverse, with tie ups with games, lifestyle experiences and meet-ups.

Since then we’ve also seen Adidas invest in the Bored Ape Yacht Club ecosystem and Nike acquire VR and NFT studio RTFKT. Proving beyond doubt the next fight between fashion brands with be in the digital, virtual space 💿

What about consumers in the fashion metaverse?

How is the metaverse changing the fashion industry?

Firstly, fashion brands follow fashion consumers.

Fashion brands want to get as many eyes on their products as possible, in whatever channel that might be.

Be it billboards, TVs, websites, phones and now the metaverse.

Where there will be fashion consumers eyes and wallets, there will be brands trying to gain some of that wallet share in that new channel 👛

D&G virtual collection showing off the possibliites of the fashion metaverse
D&Gs digital fashion collection

Secondly, we're only just grappling with the on-line to off-life fashion consumption model, but how about meta vs physical?

Will there be metaverse only fashion products, experiences and services?

History suggests so.

For example, a consumer someone recently paid $450,000 to be Snoop Dogg’s neighbour in a virtual world called the Sandbox 🏘

A further point is, what if consumption grows faster in the fashion metaverse than in reality?

Which it may well do given societal trends and the time Gen Z spends online.

Will brands shift resources to cater accordingly, with brands such as LVMH and Gucci becoming something that closer resembles a fashion-tech company than a fashion house?

With fashion companies hiring more developers than designers to build and operate the fashion metaverse.

This may seem far-fetched today but just ask brands such as blockbuster how quickly trends can shift.

The fashion metaverse as a channel to future customers

The fashion industry is nervous about neglecting a community of future fashion consumers.

Typically, fashion brands ignore customers outside their highly prescribed comfort zone until they are unable to, in other words, when it's convenient and profitable to engage with these new potential fashion customers.

Fashion now has an organic presence on platforms like Fortnite, where boundary-pushing looks are already part of the experience.

In April, for example, a creator named Lachlan staged a virtual fashion show, in which a giant sock monkey hopped on a pogo stick, a banana wore a tuxedo, and a player dressed as Guns n Roses guitarist Slash.

Balenciaga, with its September collaboration, merely stepped in to take formal advantage of that fandom.

Homer Simpson walking the runway for Balenciaga- fashion meta-metaverse
Who had Homer Simpson modelling for Balenciaga in digital fashion?

What’s more, digital clothing is one solution to the supply chain crisis that has put the industry in a chokehold over the past years, while addressing fashion’s sustainability problem.

In the metaverse, you don’t have to physically produce anything 👚

However, if there’s no physical object, what is it that consumers are buying? And how effective will traditional fashion marketing be in convincing audiences to shell out for digital fashion products? Clearly the market thinks otherwise as the examples in this blog show .

The future the fashion metaverse

I imagine a not too distant future when purchasing a Gucci handbag we'll be given the option of real or meta, the payment will be made using a coin wallet and to quote an old phrase, we might just then, be living in the matrix.

Ready player one?

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