With consumers losing interest in the metaverse, what is the future of metaverse fashion? It’s a bright one and much needed, say its advocates.
It seems like a long time ago that everyone was talking about the metaverse. In October 2021, Facebook announced its rebranding as Meta, signaling its renewed focus on the metaverse. The move generated a lot of buzz as a significant step toward the metaverse’s mainstream adoption.
In December 2021, someone spent $450,000 to be Snoop Dogg’s neighbor on the metaverse platform, The Sandbox. Although how much time he actually spent there is unknown. In November 2021, Lil Nas X performed a virtual concert in the Roblox Metaverse. The same year, Coca-Cola launched a virtual vending machine in Decentraland that dispensed branded NFTs. The list goes on.
Despite the explosion of interest, the interest from the general public has faded, according to Google Trends. After peaking between October 2021—the time of the Facebook rebrand—and January 2022, when Paris Hilton showed off her expensive NFT, interest has dropped approximately 85%.
However, for proponents, it is still early days. In time, immersive, interconnected digital worlds will be as commonplace as our use of games or video-conferencing software. And when we enter this digital world, we’re going to be concerned about what we wear. That is the conceit for metaverse fashion and the idea behind Metaverse Fashion Week. An annual event currently taking place on Decentraland.
“As we sat down last summer to plan for how to evolve Metaverse Fashion Week for this year’s edition, we listened to feedback from the community but also from the wider global market about what they want to get out of the metaverse as it develops,” says Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, Head of Metaverse Fashion Week.
Metaverse Fashion Week held its first event in March 2022. At the time, the event caught the attention of the crypto, fashion, and gaming worlds, just as interest in the metaverse was beginning to wane. The event featured leading fashion brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Estée Lauder, Elie Saab, and Etro. This year, they’ve leaned into an event that crosses both the physical and digital worlds. Evidently aware that, before we all have expensive VR headsets, a wholly-digital event has limited appeal.
“One of the ways to avoid overhyping the metaverse is to get serious about the technological limitations that currently exist in people’s imaginations. We believe that expanding to a hybrid event model and doubling down on an interoperable metaverse approach is one way to meet people where they are while still pushing the boundaries of what is possible from virtual worlds,” continues Casimiro.
“We also have many physical events that are happening, like the augmented reality runway in Milan, which is being hosted by OVER and Pinko and demonstrating how IRL fashion houses can offer authentic, elegant collections in the digital world. We are already seeing digital fashion take off on platforms like Roblox and Fortnite, with 75% of respondents under 25 in a recent Parsons poll saying they change their digital outfits at least twice a week.”
Big Brands Are Already in Digital Fashion
There has been significant investment in metaverse fashion, ready for the day when we are in and out of our digital wardrobes. In June 2021, Adidas partnered with avatar creation platform Genies to create digital clothing. In December of that year, Nike announced the acquisition of RTFKT (or “artifact”), a digital sneaker brand.
Roblox has partnered with Levi’s and Gucci on digital clothing and events. Balenciaga has launched a virtual video game called “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.” Where you can wear their specially designed Balenciaga-branded clothing. Once again, the list goes on. And although the pace may have slowed down, only a fool would say the money taps and corporate attention are off forever.
But why should any of us care? “Because we need to put the planet and people first,” Lydia Birgani-Nia, Head of Partnerships & Acquisition at the Institute of Digital Fashion, told BeInCrypto. “We ask, ‘At the end of the world, do you need more clothes? We believe digital fashion can not only solve fashion’s pain points on sustainability and greenwashing but also truly democratize the industry.”
It’s a fair point. Globally, 80 billion clothing items are used every year, up 400 percent from 20 years ago. According to one statistic, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Should we continue to buy ever more clothes if we’ll spend more time online?
“We birthed the Institute of Digital Fashion for exactly that, as an emblem of change to reimagine a broken system. We are taking aim at the outdated notion that ‘it’s fast fashion for the many and couture for the elite,’” Birgani-Nia added.
Daria Shapovalova, a DRESSX co-founder, agrees wholeheartedly. Her company uses 3D modeling and design software to generate virtual clothing for digital environments. These include virtual worlds, augmented reality, and social media platforms.
“It’s a sustainable and ethical solution to traditional fashion’s environmental problems,” Shapovalova said in a discussion with BeInCrypto. “By replacing physical garments with digital ones, we can significantly reduce carbon emissions, save water, and eliminate waste. Digital fashion also offers a lot of creative freedom that is not possible with traditional fashion. With digital garments, you can customize and modify them endlessly to create a truly unique wardrobe. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to express their individuality and style in a way that’s not limited by physical clothing.”
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