Whether you’re adventuring through the IP section of the SandBox or walking past the runway in Decentraland, you’ll notice one thing; fashion. The metaverse is already attracting some big brands such as DKNY, Dolce and Gabbana and even Tommy Hilfiger himself which are all heavily involved in NFTs. But perhaps more important is the audience that the virtual fashion scene is poised to access.
Digital Fashion in the Metaverse
In real life (IRL), fashion events such as New York can cost upwards of 1000 dollars per show. Others are invite-only, such as Paris Fashion Week. When you factor in travel, food, and accommodation, it’s clear that these events are for the few instead of the many.
According to industry leader The Business of Fashion, the next generation of fashion enthusiasts are young, online, and a “goldmine“. (81% of Gen-Z has played video games over the past six months, according to the title’s “State of Fashion” report, which also highlighted that the younger generation spends an average of 7.3 hours per week in virtual worlds). What’s more, these young participants can also participate in creating their fashion. Young creative minds can harness these “pixels” to express themselves in new and exciting ways.
Don’t take my word for it; here’s what Studio Sparkles has to say, “Fashion is an exciting area in general. The designer gets to express themselves, and the wearer is doing the same through their choice of what they wear. Metaverse fashion is particularly exciting because you’re not limited by real-world materials. You can make pants with a galaxy in them or a jacket made from a bunch of angry cats taped together. Good luck doing that in real-world fashion!”
Or take social media influencer Miquela Sousa, who has over 2 million followers on Instagram. She posts her “life” in clothes. But this isn’t your average influencer; Miquela is a 3D avatar managed by Brud, a Silicon Valley start-up specializing in intelligence and robotics. As these avatars grow in popularity, it allows brands and individuals to create an influencer instead of hiring one.
As obscure as the idea of a manufactured avatar, wearing a non-tangible outfit may seem, think of the environmental impact. No longer does the garment need to be manufactured in a low-wage factory. There are no shipping costs, or fossil fuels burned to transport them. And for clumsy people like me, you cannot stain them.
What is Decentraland?
Between December 2020 and December 2021, Decentraland’s population grew by roughly 3,300%. This doesn’t even include 70% of people that visit without registering for an account. Their token, MANA, has also seen a massive increase in value. Up 4,100% at the beginning of 2022.
Some people speculate that these numbers come from Mark Zuckerberg changing Facebook’s name to Meta. Others believe that the project is undervalued and will become one of the next leading online social experiences.
One of the main values of Decentraland is, as the name suggests, its decentralization. The map is subdivided into parcels of land that individuals and businesses own. As a landowner, you have the right to govern the ecosystem by participating in voting/ community proposals. Many other popular metaverse projects do not offer this level of decentralization.
Today, while you’re wandering through the Decentraland world, you’ll mostly see Museums, NFT galleries, Casinos and some subpar games that cause more glitches than fun. However, something is very apparent when you arrive. Fashion and your sense of identity are essential.
Fashion Week in Decentraland
Fashion Week March 24th-March 27th in the Decentraland kicked off with a bang, including catwalk shows, parties and fireside chats with top designers. Furthermore, some brands invested in owning their virtual land plot with stores to purchase their designs.
Also included in the spectacle was a state-of-the-art luxury shopping centre—similar to The Cause Way (the most expensive shopping district in the world). Stunning storefronts by Elie Saab, Peter Dundas, D&G, Etro and South-American brand Chufy lived on an elegantly decorated street. The architecture was beautiful, the stores well branded, and the clothes; expensive.
For anywhere between $200-$5000, users could purchase and wear brands’ designs to Fashion Week events. Spots for these stores filled up quick. Sam Hamiliton, creative director of Decentraland Foundation, mentioned that he was still turning down brands three hours before the event started. Each of the approved brands got matched with a team of Decentraland designers that helped them bring their collections to life.
Although everything was in place and prepared for the late march start, things didn’t go as planned. Poor connection to servers offered a sometimes “laggy” experience for visitors. The music cut in and out, players had difficulty joining, and some outfits didn’t appear as they were supposed to.
Seeing as this is the first iteration, it’s not hard to imagine a few difficulties being present. A lot of these problems can depend on user tech. The metaverse requires setting up a wallet, using a powerful desktop machine, and having a solid internet connection.
Without access to these essential ingredients, entry is nearly impossible. Many users either don’t understand crypto wallets, cannot afford the necessary equipment or have not yet heard about this emerging space. Much education and development still need to happen for brands such as Dolce and Gabbana or Tommy Hilfiger to succeed.
However, the groundwork exists. The Fashion District is accessible, the brands have filled the spaces, and the eyeballs are starting to flow towards these virtual worlds.
How to Get Involved in the Metaverse?
At the time of writing, one piece of land in the digital world costs 3.1 ETH ($10,000). By purchasing one of these plots, the owner now can design, build and host any experience they would like. Why not make a digital fashion show of your own. Perhaps you have a collection of wearables and would like to open up a retail location. One parcel of land offers the opportunity to do just that.
You can also visit the Decentraland Market Place. The Marketplace is a virtual market where you can purchase the land mentioned above and wearable NFTs.
Wearables allow users to trade their MANA tokens for pieces of “fashion” that best represent who they are, whether a Metaverse Travel Agency Helmet or a Tommy Hilfiger piece of clothing.
You don’t necessarily have to be a collector in this Marketplace either. Asset designers from all over the world now have the opportunity to design and monetize their assets as NFTs. The metaverse is creating a whole new in-game economy that is supposed to offer “everyone” the potential to earn currency in the virtual world.
Digital fashion is just starting to get recognized as an item with real value. If you are reading this, you’re early. Maybe it’s time to start building up that digital wardrobe for next year’s Digital Fashion week. So, I’ll see you in the metaverse.
Written by: Tyler Monette