While the digital world isn’t necessarily a new concept, the fashion industry’s presence within it has been rapidly increasing over recent years, with 2022 in particular proving to be a year that has so far been full to the brim of digital integration and metaverse activations.
A new report by Fashionbi has explored the various ways brands are making use of this continuously developing virtual space, through different strategies that hope to appeal to their customer group in new and exciting ways.
Via Fashionbi’s report, FashionUnited has highlighted the most popular methods brands have been adopting when entering the metaverse and why these particular strategies are so attractive.
A non-fungible token (NFT), like cryptocurrency, exists in the blockchain ecosystem, however only one of its kind exists and it can hold extra information in comparison to the digital currency. Owning an NFT, which can be anything from art and software to virtual assets like fashion objects, provides the holder with exclusive ownership to that asset. It is this element that has made the NFT so popular in the luxury industry, offering buyers a unique experience that is somewhat difficult to attain.
While brands hopping onto the NFT bandwagon can benefit from a new revenue stream, buyers also gain a lot of extra perks from owning this new artwork, for example the ability to integrate it into online games or unlocking experiences.
In Fashionbi’s report, the organisation listed the top selling NFTs so far, many of which have been sold through an auction and then resold via NFT marketplaces. Dolce & Gabbana topped the list with its The Doge Crown NFT. The artwork, which initially went up for auction, resold for over 1.2 million dollars. Other big sellers included Gucci’s Supergucci collection, which have appeared in resale for around 83,000 dollars, and Givenchy’s collaboration NFTs with Chito, which have peaked at 13,000 dollars.
Popular gaming platforms and virtual worlds
Virtual worlds provide users with many benefits alongside either exploring, playing games or socialising with friends. The likes of Fortnite or Zepeto have already attracted a large number of brands looking to dip their toes into digital merchandising and explore what possibilities there are within online gaming, whether that be online retail spaces or other digital asset launches.
While Nintendo’s Animal Crossing was a hit for both players and retailers alike during the pandemic, it is Roblox that has particularly risen in the ranks, partnering with the likes of Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger and, most recently, Clarks on digital fashion drops, in-game experiences and branded gaming offers. Similarly, 3D virtual space Decentraland has also made a distinct mark in the fashion industry with the launch of Metaverse Fashion Week back in March. The digital event saw brands and retailers like DKNY, Selfridges and Etro take to the metaverse for the first time.
Acquisitions and investments in digital companies have also been a prominent part of the development of metaverse brand activations. Nike, for example, acquired virtual sneakers company Rtfkt back in December 2021 following the launch of its virtual experience in Roblox, which has since seen almost seven million visitors. Diesel is another to take on digitally-centred platforms, launching its own virtual platform D:verse in March 2022. The site allows visitors to purchase unique NFT versions of the brand’s clothing, as well as physical pieces.
Luxury conglomerate LVMH has been an avid investor in digital start-ups and firms as part of its annual Innovation Award, presented during the Viva Technology conference. This year’s edition of the award consists of a shortlist of 21 start-ups covering everything from 3D product experience and metaverse companies to omnichannel and retail specialists.
Virtual fashion shows
Beginning in 2020, when the world was faced with strict lockdowns, many brands took to the virtual world in order to continue showing collections and connecting with their customers. GCDS led the way with the opening of a virtual fashion arcade and runway show, which was followed by The Fabric of Reality, produced by RYOT. This year, however, virtual reality (VR) runway shows have become more evident, with shows held via the likes of VR platform Second Life, headed by Jonathan Simkhai, and Crypto Fashion Week, which launched numerous NFT drops and panel discussions.
Not only have there been a cohort of digitally driven fashion shows, but physical fashion shows have also begun implementing metaverse activations into their line ups. Paris Fashion Week for the spring/summer 2022 season, for example, integrated NFTs into its offering, provided to accredited guests so they could access exclusive content and augmented reality (AR) experiences. Additionally, during London Fashion Week in February 2022, Roksanda partnered with the organisation on the release of an NFT version of the brand’s finale look, which was launched in limited edition bundles that allowed buyers to virtually try-on the look.
Alongside virtual runways and digital artworks, many brands have also been testing the waters of AR retail experiences. Often located in the aforementioned virtual worlds, these new retail locations allow gamers to browse branded products, purchase them and don them on their personal avatars, bringing to life a brand’s merchandise in the digital realm. Selfridges was a notable adoptee of this strategy, with the launch of its own VR department store in Decentraland. The immersive experience, which bore a resemblance to the retailer’s Birmingham store, hosted various art exhibitions and in-store activations by the likes of Paco Rabanne.