Contrary to popular belief, digital fashion is not just for gamers or young male crypto enthusiasts. New surveys have shown that many digital fashion buyers are women who enjoy shopping in virtual stores.
A new study published in Screenwear Paper shows not only what people want to wear in other worlds, but also how much they are willing to pay.
According to the study, identity is the main reason for buying digital fashion, with 70 per cent of respondents saying they buy something to create or enhance a digital identity, to express themselves or to own something unique.
Digital fashion can also create space for greater equality, for example for plus-size shoppers, people with disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community, and allow people to explore new forms of identity that are not constrained by traditional roles, expectations and boundaries.
There are several reasons why fashion brands are attracted to the metaverse: They want to attract younger audiences with digital outfits, it offers an unparalleled level of flexibility in terms of design and layout, and virtual worlds offer the chance to drastically reduce the high resource consumption of our lifestyle (sustainability). Last but not least, it offers almost unlimited scalability, meaning brands can create experiences as small or as large as they want.
Even up-and-coming designers are not limited in the world of digital fashion by expensive materials or lack of capital. In this article, I go into a little more detail about the reasons that are driving fashion brands to expand in the metaverse.
Morgan Stanley predicts that the luxury fashion industry alone could turn over up to 50 billion dollars in the metaverse over the next ten years.
11 fashion brands that are already engaged in the metaverse:
- Ralph Lauren
- Louis Vuitton
- Charli Cohen / Selfridges
- Forever 21
- Dolce & Gabbana
The US sports goods manufacturer Nike recognised the potential of virtual products early on and has firmly integrated the “gold mine” Metaverse into its business plan. Last December, Nike Inc. announced the acquisition of the hip NFT fashion producer RTFKT, one of the leading brands in the virtual sneaker and digital collectibles sector. “This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and enables us to serve athletes and creatives at the intersection of sports, creativity, gaming and culture,” said John Donahoe, president and CEO of NIKE Inc. “We are acquiring a very talented team of creatives with an authentic and connected brand. Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, mentor and grow its innovative and creative community, and expand Nike’s digital presence and capabilities.”
What is not mentioned in this statement are the financial interests of the world’s largest sporting goods manufacturer. Just one example: RTFKT caused a sensation with a sales campaign that was carried out together with the artist FEWOCiOUS and in which users could buy real and virtual sneakers in a package. The result: in six minutes, 600 pairs and NFTs were sold for over 3.1 million dollars.
Nike’s commitment to the Metaverse is also evident through its recent trademark filings. Seven new brands could focus on producing and selling virtual sports fashion and accessories in so-called meta-worlds.
The Italian fashion house opened a virtual Gucci Garden showroom to coincide with its real-life, multimedia “Gucci Garden Archetypes” exhibition in Florence. Together with metaverse and gaming platform Roblox, Gucci created different immersive themed spaces that referenced different campaigns of the fashion house. “As visitors enjoy the interactive, virtual exhibition inspired by Gucci advertising campaigns, their digital avatars transform into dress-up dolls that absorb exhibition elements and become unique digital art themselves. In the process, visitors can choose from a limited collection of items for their avatars, created solely for the experience.” (Gucci).
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The Ralph Lauren Winter Escape in the popular gaming world Roblox
“Our partnership with Roblox builds on years of digital innovation and underscores our belief in the opportunities that virtual spaces and economies present – especially when it comes to the next generation of consumers.”, Alice Delahunt, chief digital and content officer at Ralph Lauren, said. In keeping with tradition, the first foray into the Metaverse for fashion brand Ralph Lauren was into the winter-themed sportswear world. Players can try on and buy eight exclusive and gender-neutral collections for their avatars. Afterwards, they can go virtual ice skating or prepare hot drinks in Ralph’s Coffee House, among other things.
Ralph Lauren in Roblox: https://www.roblox.com/ralphlauren
The first steps are tentative, but they certainly fall under the heading of “milestone” for the French luxury goods company. Just in time for the 200th birthday of the company’s founder, Louis Vuitton released a mobile game with NFT integration and the company’s own mascot Vivienne in August 2021. In “Louis – The Game”, Vivienne embarks on a journey through the history of the fashion brand, on which players can collect up to 30 NFTs. 10 of these NFTs come from the artist Beeple.
The fashion house Balenciaga has entered into a cooperation with Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite. This is only logical. After all, the company dresses starlets like Kim Karadashian, who also appear like futuristic video game starlets in reality. For 400 million users worldwide, it is now: Style like Kardashian.
Balenciaga has integrated four stylishly hip skins into Fortnite. In addition, there are various fashion accessories such as a Balenciaga Bling backpack.
The fact that this collaboration will not remain a one-off shows that a department responsible for the Metaverse has been set up in the fashion company.
Balenciaga in Fortnite: https://www.epicgames.com/site/en-US/news/balenciaga-brings-high-fashion-to-fortnite
Charli Cohen / Selfridges
To celebrate 25 years of Pokémon, British department stores’ chain Selfridges teamed up with designer Charli Cohen (NEXTWEAR – sustainable fashion with virtual counterparts) and immersive storytelling production company Yahoo RYOT Lab. Together they developed Electric/City – a virtual city inspired by the fashion capitals of the world where players can buy exclusive physical and digital garments.
British fashion label Burberry collaborated with gaming company Tencent Games to design outfits for the Chinese fighting game Honor of Kings. The so-called skins reflected Burberry’s signature tartan pattern. “By giving our Chinese customers the opportunity to explore virtual products through the medium of online games, we can connect with our communities in a way that really speaks to them,” Josie Zhang, president of Burberry China, told the BBC.
Sporting goods manufacturer adidas has gone comparatively deep into the metaverse.
1. adidas has acquired a virtual property in the metaverse game The Sandbox.
2. cooperation with the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase in November 2021 showed the strong interest in crypto wallets.
3. engagement in the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) community. A BAYC NFT (via Ethereum blockchain) is considered a ticket to the virtual “yacht club”; the cheapest Bored Ape now costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Adidas announced a collaboration with Bored Ape makers Yuga Labs, among others, to add the “Into the Metaverse” collection to its in-house lifestyle label adidas Originals. 30,000 NFTs were sold for 0.2 Ethereum (about $800) each, generating $22 million in revenue for adidas. Digital and physical wearables for NFT owners are set to launch in 2022.
Confident are the makers of BoohooMAN: “We are used to starting trends and this is no different. For the first time, an affordable fashion brand is launching a memorable NFT collection, and who better to get the virtual ball rolling than boohooMAN?” The fact is, the fashion brand is really going a step further than many other fashion labels. For example, it has initiated an NFT collection competition, which highlights the strong interest in cryptocurrencies. Anyone who has a crypto-wallet on the fashion brand’s website can take part in the “Get Your (Virtual) Hands on the Range” competition and be drawn for virtual fashion.
In the virtual world “Forever 21 Shop City“, the fashion brand Forever 21 enables its users to buy and sell goods of the fashion label and to create their own shops on the video game platform Roblox. On top of that, the “players” can also hire employees and individually design their fashion shops.
Dolce & Gabbana
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Dolce & Gabbana’s nine-piece NFT collection, Collezione Genesi, sold for nearly $6 million in September 2021, making headlines around the world. Some of the creations created with the digital marketplace UNXD came with physical pieces.
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