Would you pay for clothes that ‘don’t exist’? The fashion revolution in the metaverse – 11/25/2022

The relationship between fashion and the metaverse is a hot topic. In March of this year, Metaverse Fashion Week took place, on the virtual reality platform Decentraland, which works within the Ethereum metaverse.

The event brought together “analog” brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana and Elie Saab and more than 100,000 unique users participated in the program.

There were those who found the fashion week a fiasco, with several technical problems. Even so, Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, director of Metaverse Fashion Week, was one of the speakers at the WebSummit, the biggest innovation event in the world, which took place from November 1st to 4th in Lisbon.

In several panels, he discussed the future of clothes and whether we are going to, once and for all, migrate our looks to the digital universe. Would it be possible?

The future is already from the past

The truth is that this encounter between fashion and the virtual world is not something new. This flirtation has been around for over 20 years.

In 1998, stylist Thierry Mugler, for example, held a virtual fashion show, bringing new technologies of 3D simulations to the fashion universe, based on a partnership with the company Kinetix.

“This project/show was presented at technology fairs at the time”, recalls Fernando Hage, coordinator of the fashion course at FAAP (Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado), from São Paulo (SP).

A few years later, in 2003, the “first metaverse” we know arrived: Second Life. As the name implies, the platform offered the opportunity to maintain a “second life”, but on a digital level.

Brands understood the value of also conquering this space and American Apparel, Adidas, Nike and Reebok were some of the labels that created stores within Second Life.

the new metaverse

Gary James McQueen's virtual fashion show - Reproduction - Reproduction

Gary James McQueen virtual fashion show

Image: Reproduction

What gave a new impetus for fashion to become more digital was, without a doubt, the covid-19 pandemic.

From 2020, we observed a boom in the use of digital resources such as filters, which were already popular on social networks like Snapchat, but which became even more popular on Instagram”, explains Carol Garcia, professor of the Fashion Design course at Belas Art.

Designer Gary James McQueen, nephew of the unforgettable Alexander McQueen, for example, created a show entirely conceived in Unreal Engine [programa de modulação 3D] and the Dress X platform, specialized in virtual fashion, started selling digital looks.

Also in this period, Louis Vuitton launched a collection of avatars for “League of Legends”, while Balenciaga invested in visuals for the players of “fortnite🇧🇷

Louis Vuitton Avatars for "league of legends" - Disclosure - Disclosure

Louis Vuitton Avatars for “League of Legends”

Image: Disclosure

The digital difference

According to experts, the digital medium allows brands to have a closer relationship with their end consumers.

“The pandemic made them understand that it is possible to expand contact with the public through digital presentations, as well as allowing brands to enter environments to which they still did not have much access, as is the case of the metaverse of games online”, recalls Fernando Hage.

According to a report by market consultancy McKinsey, fashion is one of the three consumer categories in which people of generation Z are most interested. And where are these young people? In online games, on TikTok, in stories.

Balenciaga and its players "fortnite"🇧🇷  - Disclosure - Disclosure

Balenciaga and his “Fortnite” players

Image: Disclosure

“The brands that are working in the metaverse are interested in becoming relevant to a new generation of consumers, who pay more attention to games and social networks than to fashion weeks or specialized magazines, which have lost a lot of space in recent years” , says Hage.

Fashion is an aspirational market, which works with values ​​such as identity, creativity and, in some cases, exclusivity.

These issues are relevant to the metaverse, where users are required to create avatars that have their own identity, built through physical appearance and the clothes used, which instigate creative, tuned choices and also with the possibility of being exclusive to that user” , comments the FAAP fashion course coordinator.

And the NFTs (non-fungible tokens, in literal English translation) brought a new possibility to this virtual fad. They function as a kind of certificate of authenticity, linked to blockchain and often traded for bitcoins.

Now, brands can ensure that their virtual looks are original and, on top of that, earn money from it. “It facilitates the process of registering transactions and controlling assets in a business network, that is, it is possible to guarantee the veracity of luxury physical products, for example”.

This does not mean, however, that this is the end of physical clothing. “On the contrary. It is an incentive to reflect in favor of more sustainable actions, avoiding the production of pieces that would be used only once in the network society and in instagrammable photos, or even in use as a pilot for on-demand production through prior digital evidence”, comments Carol Garcia.

“Physical clothing has accompanied society since the most remote times. I believe that the way of dressing is constantly changing.

The pandemic, for example, brought a significant increase in the importance of comfort and minimalism in clothes, which can also influence the process of digitizing fashion, but this did not eliminate or transform the style of products, it only brought new options to the market”, complements Fernando Hage.

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