In 2014, when Mark Zukerberg acquired the virtual reality platform Oculus for Facebook, no one knew what would follow. Leap forward by seven years and October 28, 2021 saw Facebook Metaverse launched. This virtual platform was the opening up of Pandora’s Box, in a good way. The myriad possibilities of creativity that presented itself on this virtual world seemed to know no bounds.
Metaverse, new way forward for fashion
The avant-garde fashion retail leaders recognized the Metaverse for its worth. As Gucci’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer Robert Triefus states in the just released ‘The State of Fashion 2023’ McKinsey & Company and The Business of Fashion states there are more and more ‘second worlds’ where people can express themselves but brands have probably not yet understood the value attached to such individuals who want to express themselves outside the box. That’s where a virtual world with virtual products comes to play.
Triefus states, Gucci was quick on the uptake of Metaverse as a platform to engage with its customers – Gucci Garden was created within the Roblox gaming Metaverse and experience 19 million visitors. Other fashion retail marketers witnessed Gucci’s success story and are eyeing the $176 billion gaming industry with over three billion players worldwide as the perfect platform for building their communities and keeping them constantly engaged. The commitment to gaming by gamers is becoming increasingly their real world and the pandemic-lockdown was when this phenomenon surged right through the roof. American fashion retailer Ralph Lauren jumped in with South Korean social network app Zepeto and created a virtual fashion collection for users to dress their personal avatars in exclusive apparel and appearance altering skins.
Digital fashion retail just begins
For many fashionistas, digital fashion is just an organic extension of applying social media filters like they do on their Snapchat and Instagram accounts according to Simon Windsor, Cofounder and Joint Managing Director, Dimension Studio, an agency that worked with Balenciaga on its video game. Windsor reinforces with Metaverse, fashion retail is at its tipping point as it leads the way fashion will be interpreted and accepted. Fashion retail has understood just how big a game changer the Metaverse is going to be. AI and AR have already been used to showcase 360 degree views of products on many online sites of fashion retail brands to present their seasonal collections and avatars of models have strutted virtual catwalks in all 3D glory.
NFTs will become the ultimate bespoke item
Meanwhile, the McKinsey-BOF report also states Nonfungible tokens, popularly known as NFTs has seen a huge surge of interest, one of the most sought after virtual assets. These unique crypto assets are blockchain authenticated and verified before purchase. NFTs are bought, sold and exchanged on the Metaverse, and often with cryptocurrency.
Beeple, the digital artist on Metaverse (his real name is Mike Winklemann) sold an NFT at a Christie’s online auction for a record-breaking $69.3 million. Marketing experts feel that NFTs are revolutionary. Karinna Nobbs, Co-chief Executive and Chief Experience Officer of NFT marketplace The Dematerialised explains NFTs are bigger than the Internet. They will apparently change the way we view digital ownership, creative structures, creative economy and also how we view money. A bold statement indeed which fashion retail has heeded well. Fashion brands can create their NFTs that are not only authenticated but also serve as exclusive collectibles in their own right. For its 200th anniversary, Louis Vuitton roped in Beeple who designed Louis Vuitton collectible NFTs on a video gaming platform owned by the brand. As demand for NFTs grow, the world of fashion retail is plunging into the Metaverse to ride this wave of hype of digital ownership of exclusive pieces.