“There’s more creative freedom in the digital [realm], there are no constraints, no gravity,” says Scarlett Yang, who designed a glass dress that changed texture according to the temperature and weather. Before building the real-life dress form, she took to the virtual world to explore the metaverse fashion technology to build the prototype and explain how the seemingly impossible dress could work.
Yang participated in the Metaverse Fashion Week on Decentraland, a browser-based metaverse platform, along with brands like Etro, Tommy Hilfiger, and Roberto Cavalli, among many others. Just like the entire concept of the metaverse, the topic of wearable fashion in the metaverse can sound quite strange. But several brands have leaped into this niche. Surely, something must drive people to sell and buy clothes in this 3D virtual reality.
Let’s look at how the digital space works for the fashion industry and designers.
In the metaverse, people express themselves in numerous ways than on social media or in real life. Even digital-only fashion brands with basically no physical presence caught massive attention. People evoke fashion in the metaverse using avatars who’ll be wearing chic NFT clothes designed by world-class luxury houses like Balenciaga and Valentino.
Would you purchase a digital dress? Roksanda, a famous online clothing store in the UK, posed this question during the launch of their exclusive NFT series at London Fashion Week. They displayed the real dress during the finale of Roksanda’s Autumn Winter 22 catwalk show. The NFT costs around £5000, and this creation marks Roksanda’s entry into the metaverse fashion, capitalizing on a rapidly growing market. Fashion brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Nike have recently invested in virtual advertisements and exhibitions to connect with their audiences in novel and sustainable ways.
A broader perspective as to why specifically, metaverse has to do with the technologies that come with it. Augmented Reality (AR) lets you manifest a digital object in real life. For instance, conjuring a Pokeman Go character in your living room. Similarly, imagine you turn the front camera on and scroll clothes on your phone to try them on instantly. If it’s anything, it is much better than how we shop online today.
For example, Lenskart, an eyewear company, has been enabling AR-based eyeglass try-on features for years. Pinterest has come up with an instant makeup try-on feature. If you like the lipstick shade on a Pinterest image, just click on the AI camera to try it on yourself. Clothes that exist only digitally, i.e., clothes that your avatars on the metaverse could wear, are minted as NFTs. This means you can buy and sell NFT clothes on the metaverse. Maybe put up a little thrift shop in the metaverse.
This leads us to…
Fashion NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) and tokenized outfits, accessories, textiles, and other wearable NFTs exist in virtual worlds, especially in games. NFTs allow brands to judge their potential popularity while giving the consumer a digital good as a reward for pre-ordering.
With this, the fashion industry can actively utilize the features only blockchain technology can offer, such as blockchain’s unforgeability and proof-of-origin properties, which can be used while producing and distributing the branded product. Through them, customers can secure the identity of their product, which can be customized and used through various online-metaverse channels and on-chain data. Thus, NFTs serve as certificates of authenticity for digital purchases.
An example of a brand that has adapted quite well to virtual fashion is DressX. It is an open platform for buyers and advanced and style brands to explore virtual worlds. The organization sells virtual apparel and additionally offers an entire range of administrations. The platform digitizes actual designs or makes computerized garments. Another layer (utility) is created to form NFTs (A non-fungible token or a unit of unique data stored on the blockchain system that can be traded and sold), allowing customers to wear those in augmented reality through their application.
There are several opportunities for fashion producers, digital artists, and fashion enthusiasts to access metaverse or 3D fashion. Some of them are present:
Social shopping: We can walk around the streets and enter shop buildings just like in real-life to shop for clothes. Live Streaming and AR helped boost seamless shopping experiences in metaverse online stores from discovery to checkout. For example, clothing giant H&M announced that it would build 3-D shopping venues in the metaverse.
Augmented Reality: AR fashion introduced new revenue streams for designers and fashion consumers. It overpowers the traditional fashion industry as it is time-saving and convenient. Regardless of size or disability, anyone can try on clothes and accessories from their homes. With the use of output devices such as VR goggles, the power of AR combined with the features of a metaverse environment is even more enhanced. Some brands that use AR for an immersive customer experience include Burberry, ASOS, Lacoste, and Timberland.
3D visualization: 3D renderings of garments in global virtual platforms have been on the rise as it enables one to engage a team simultaneously and complete the process in one go. The best example would be Elite World Group and Tommy Hilfiger, who collaborated on virtual space ventures, including metaverse fashion festivals.
Circular textiles: Circular textiles use sustainable technology to design products to limit the excessive use of raw materials and decrease textile waste. Advanced technology like the metaverse can help in large-scale design needs for circular fashion. The textile company Positive Fibres has started to venture into the metaverse to uphold its circular and sustainability goals in digital fashion.
Metaverse fashion has infinite potential. Creators of digital fashion have the privilege to experiment with anything and everything. This is one of the reasons why fashion leaders believe that metaverse fashion can dive into cultural values and behavioral patterns.
Body Positive and Gender Fluid: Wearable NFT fit is not grounded by the body, gender, or ability. This couture is designed to be non-discriminative. Championing inclusivity, these wearables are a well-illustration of sexual freedom and body positivity.
Creativity is business: Fashion creators can also sell sketches of collections as NFTs or embed royalty on their products, creating an additional stream of income both from the initial sale and royalties. Fashion NFTs open the portal to large communities of collectors and metaverse users.
Internet Venues: Today, digital fashion weeks are conducted on the platform on plots knowns as LAND and are sold as NFTs. Major brands participating in metaverse fashion shows include Hugo Boss, Balenciaga, Burberry, and Tommy Hilfiger.
Sustainable and green fashion: New virtual designs can minimize the samples produced for merchandisers and promotional purposes. These styles can be easily cloned and can be tailored to models (both virtual and physical), celebrities, and influencers. On the customer end, improvements in AR can help buyers visualize and virtually experience the quality of products before they’re even manufactured. This ultimately resulted in the massive reduction of carbon footprint and crafted a move towards sustainability.
It would be difficult to predict the future of fashion in the metaverse, but one clear thing is the blurring lines between the physical and virtual fashion. The metaverse is predicted to present more than a $50 billion opportunity for the luxury fashion industry over the next decade, including a $22.6 billion market for luxury NFTs. Digital clothing makes the fashion industry more accessible for sellers and buyers while tackling the urgent need for sustainability. As users spend more time online and the hype around the metaverse continues to cascade into virtual goods and NFTs, fashion brands will unlock new ways of engaging new customer requirements. To capture untapped value, players should explore the potential of NFTs and virtual fashion — all of which offer fresh routes to creativity, community-building, and commerce.
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