Fashion sells fantasies and proffers an emotional experience. When in 1992, Neal Stephenson’s science fiction, “Snow Crash” depicted a hypnotic, virtual reality-based successor to the Internet; then it surely was inspiring today’s popular games like Fortnite, World of Warcraft and Roblox. If you have visited the virtual Gucci garden on gaming platform Roblox; then Metaverse is not nouveau to you. ‘Meta’ has gained enough attention in the digital world, after rebranding of Facebook. Metaverse is next in line to grab the Gen Z, the digital natives accustomed to spending significant time online. Where physical and digital lives have gained equal prominence, experiencing an online virtual world of fashion would not be surprising. Burberry’s first NFT collection with Blankos Block Party and Louis Vuitton’s ‘Louis The Game’ NFT in celebration of the French House’s founder’s 200th anniversary; feature metaverse as fashion’s next major investment.
Offering a more immersive and three-dimensional experience, the Metaverse features a digital persona aka avatar that seeks out experiences similar to what one might do in the real world. This nebulous new digital frontier has captured everyone’s attention in the fashion fraternity. From the likes of Balenciaga to Louis Vuitton; everyone has shared equal fondness for this online virtual world.
Where is Metaverse?
Metaverse is not owned by a single entity or doesn’t exist on one particular platform; it is rather enabled by many different technologies. With the users mostly wanting to socialize online, the brands’ focus has shifted to creating 3D objects, fashion, and more. These creators are so advanced in their convergence of fashion and tech, that through metaverse and AI, they allow users to create and dress a digital avatar. It’s about unleashing creativity and pushing limits.
You don’t have to physically produce anything in the metaverse, and luxury giants splashing in NFTs illustrate how amalgamations of technology like virtual reality, augmented reality and video; create a digital universe for the users. Work of designers and retailers can be easily uploaded online or to the blockchain and designs can be sold as NFTs.
Fashion entwining with Next Version of the Internet
Accessories and apparel brands across the globe are hooked on to finding out what will people’s digital avatars wear in the metaverse. A glimpse of virtual fashion line has been portrayed by the likes of Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. DressX, a virtual fashion boutique hosts over 100 brands which test digital dresses and it wouldn’t be an overstatement that the future will witness rivalry between the renowned haute couture brands and nimble digital clothing brands in the metaverse.
Morgan Stanley states that luxury brands could be gaining through the metaverse through expansion of their total addressable market by over 10% by 2030. A digital item won’t require the purchase of raw materials, money for labour or manufacturing or shipping something around the world. From their already existing vast archive of collections, brands can repurpose them for the digital realm. In addition to this, they profit from the first sale and also collect royalties every time an item is resold. And all this is materialized through embedding terms in a smart contract on blockchain technology, which will power the metaverse. If we go by the facts stated by the fashion startup, DresssX; then producing a single digital garment induces 97% less carbon and 872 lesser gallons of water than a psychical garment. Moreover, with no residual inventory at the end of the season; digital fashion becomes implicitly sustainable.
Offering brands a new way to test products, this new sensation will open up the industry to more designers of various backgrounds. However, complex legal questions, intellectual property, trademark and copyright licensing will also have to be reassessed by brands.