The Future of Fashion in the Metaverse
And why brands should care?
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Live, virtual events have eclipsed the largest in-person gatherings in human history. Digital images—once considered meaningless—now sell for millions. In short, we’ve moved from a decade of digital transformation to the transformation of digital. This evolution is best represented by the metaverse, a virtual reality where humans can participate in a shared 3D universe. The metaverse can mirror the real world or can be total fantasy.
What the Metaverse Means for Virtual Fashion
Last week, Mark Zukcerberg, (CEO of Meta Platforms) announced the launch of a digital clothing store where users can purchase designer outfits for their digital avatars. Fashion brands like Balenciaga and Prada will be available for purchase with prices between $2.99-$8.99 USD, which is much less than a real Prada bag that sells for around $10,000 USD.
|Designers are holding fashion shows in the metaverse (Source: Refinery29).|
Millions of metaverse users have seen live concerts, historical events, and fashion shows in the metaverse by using games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox. Yes, they are purely for entertainment (for now), but metaverse inhabitants are building cities, connecting with friends, and are moving to a photorealistic world inhabited by human avatars that, you guessed it, will need to be clothed. Several fashion brands have already invested in virtual advertisements and fashion shows. Here’s a short list of popular fashion brands investing in the metaverse:
The first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week was held earlier this year (March 24-27, 2022). Unlike a normal fashion week as we know it—a sensory overload of bustling crowds, eye-catching outfits, and sought-after invites—the Metaverse Fashion Week 2022 (MVFW22) took place in a virtual-world, browser-based platform called Decentraland. Over 60 brands, designers, and artists participated. A combination of legacy luxury fashion and digital-native brands showcased their highly anticipated wearable collections, digital spaces, and innovative launches during the week. Fashion was presented in every possible form, from runway shows to retail experiences. It included community-run neighborhoods and fashion districts like luxury and street, as well as retail flagship stores like Forever 21, Philipp Plein, and Estée Lauder. After parties were also held after a long day of shopping and fashion sightseeing to show of moves and shiny new wearables on the dance floor.
|Visitors to Kornit Fashion Week-London 2022 (May 15-17) saw first-hand how
physical and virtual worlds can connect.
What the Metaverse Means for Fashion Reality
Imagine you’re in the metaverse shopping at a virtual mall or attending a fashion show. You find something you like and buy it. The next logical craving to hit you is “I’d really like to have that in my non-virtual closet, beyond the metaverse.” Well, that’s coming, too! During MVFW22, Tommy Hilfiger showed its spring/summer ’22 collection that brought the “see-now-buy-now” concept to life for both the digital product and its physical twin offered offline. Etro used MVFW to debut its new Liquid Paisley collection virtually before releasing it physically a week later. In short, brands want to meet the new generation of consumers wherever they are to encourage them to express their individuality no matter where they choose to shop or interact with a brand.
Virtual fashion has huge potential and could be worth $50 billion USD by 2030, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley. But it’s the crossover between the metaverse and the physical world where the big sales can kick in. Brands are realizing that they can advertise and build brand recognition in the metaverse to drive customers to a brick-and mortar store or website in real life. Street retailer Forever 21 reported an average stay time of 24 minutes in its virtual store during MVFW, hinting how the virtual world can have significant influence on consumer habits and trends in the physical world. They are also taking feedback from the Roblox community to help them determine which physical designs are ultimately produced and sold.
|The Forever 21 virtual store at MVFW22 (Source: Ledger Insights).|
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
I firmly believe that digital assets purchased in the metaverse could eventually have the same brand recognition as a luxury logo, so brands should take note. In the metaverse, the apparel industry is finding itself at the intersection of digital social interaction, online ecommerce, and creative virtual expression. In this next version of the Internet (Web 3.0), the boundaries separating our digital and physical lives will become increasingly blurred as technologies like augmented and virtual reality will become more sophisticated and accessible—ultimately leading to individualized apparel and fashion items that are printed and manufactured.
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