January: The month of NFTsWhile 2021 may have officially been the pinnacle year for NFTs, their usage by fashion brands seemed to have prominently seeped into the beginning of 2022 through branded launches and digital clothing drops. While the likes of Balmain, Gap and Gucci got in on the trend, either through collaborations or platform unveilings, other fashion companies were instead tackling the drawbacks that come from ownership within the digital world. Hermès took to suing creator Mason Rothschild for alleged “trademark infringement” over his release of NFT ‘Metabirkins’, stating that the artist was “appropriating the brand” through the launch. A similar filing was later sought by Nike against StockX, which released NFTs using the brand’s logo and likeness.
H&M launches collection with DressX - As part of H&M’s exploration of the metaverse, the brand developed a virtual fashion collection that could be won by winners of a competition with DressX
Gap unveils NFT collection with Frank Ape - For its first NFT offer, Gap partnered with the artist behind Frank Ape to release a series of digital artwork that allowed buyers to access varying degrees of unlockable benefits
Adidas and Prada reveal NFT collab - Adidas teamed up with luxury brand Prada for a project that asked shoppers to submit user-generated content to be included in a mass-patchwork NFT developed by digital artist Zach Lieberman
February: Virtual events take holdThe phenomenon of virtual events became increasingly evident this month, with a handful of digital-first fashion weeks and conferences taking place simultaneous to the real life fashion week season. Digital Fashion Week NYC concluded its third edition, Everyrealm teamed up with Jonathan Simkhai on a fashion show in open world platform Second Life and even Paris Hilton got on the movement, with the unveiling of her own fashion week in partnership with Boohoo. Meanwhile, participating designers in “normal” fashion weeks also implemented digitalisation into their in-person shows, with some launching games, digital collections and NFTs next to their physical lines.
Alo Yoga enters Roblox - Alo Yoga made its Roblox debut with the opening of its first virtual store in the open world game, offering users an immersive space to meditate and purchase a digital range of its fitness clothing
Digital Fashion Week NYC concludes third edition - Kicking off the cohort of metaverse-based events in 2022, Digital Fashion Week NYC took place within its own trade show-like world, hosting talks, exhibitors and digital designers
Roksanda launches NFTs with Fila - As part of London Fashion Week, Roksanda unveiled a number of NFTs alongside the brand’s AW22 collaboration with Fila
March: The world’s ‘first-ever’ Metaverse Fashion WeekThe highly anticipated Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) took place in March, after months of hype building up around the event, for which a slew of designers and brands unveiled digital activations, fashion collections and shows. The event very much defined the period, taking over media platform coverage as thousands of users descended on Decentraland to witness the occasion. While the likes of The Fabricant and Dolce & Gabbana took to the runway with virtual collections, Dundas, Selfridges and DKNY were among those opening digital store locations where “players” could shop and explore both digital and physical merchandise.
Charles & Keith accept cryptocurrency - Alongside an announcement it would be joining MVFW, Charles & Keith became one of the first fashion retailer’s to begin accepting cryptocurrency
Skechers signs digital land lease - Footwear brand Skechers signed a lease for a digital retail space in Decentraland next to also filing a number of trademarks linked to the sale of virtual goods
Hogan debuts virtual store - Like a cohort of other brands, shoewear specialist Hogan unveiled a new virtual pop-up store in Decentraland as part of the platform’s MVFW event, where shoppers could purchase digital iterations of its shoes
April: The metaverse spills out into the wide industryFor the month of April, digital fashion began to merge into further corners of the fashion industry, engaging consumers that weren’t initially linked to the rapidly expanding concept. Pronovias became one of the first bridal brands to explore this sector, launching a series of wedding-themed NFTs based on its 2023 collection. Meanwhile, sportswear giant Adidas revealed an artificial intelligence (AI) avatar creation platform and luxury fashion house Marni dove head first into an immersive fashion experience to display its latest collection. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) also took its first steps into the metaverse, launching an educational Web3-based programme for its members.
Pacsun opens Roblox experience - Expanding its presence in the virtual world, Pacusn opened a digital mall within Roblox that allowed users to own and operate their own space within the experience
Marni reveals metaverse lookbook - Luxury brand Marni took its first steps into the metaverse, revealing looks from its SS22 collection through a 3D lookbook and augmented reality (AR) activation
Bridal brand Pronovias launches NFTs - Pronovias further expanded the NFT market becoming the “first ever” bridal brand to drop its own NFT offering, giving buyers a sneak peek into its upcoming collection
May: Branding and advertising agencies get in on the gigTo keep up with the fast rise of the metaverse so far in the year, it became evident that marketing agencies were also going to have to get in on the gig in order to support brands and their interests. This was something that ad tech company Hivestack was quick to adopt through the launch of its metaverse-based advertising offer, backing and supplying digital world advertising. Meanwhile, creative agency Cult opened an in-game marketing hub to support retailer’s entries into the digital realm. Other industries were also jumping in on digital fashion, including gaming giant Epic Games, which invested in virtual retail developer PixelPool, and colour authority firm Pantone, which unveiled wearable metaverse technology.
Clarks debuts in Roblox - Footwear retailer Clarks took its first step into the metaverse with the opening of Clarks Stadium in Roblox, where users could take part in various sports-based games
Puma opens digital sports experience - Puma unveiled a new explorable Roblox experience alongside a selection of digital garments to dress in-game avatars on the platform
Gucci launches permanent Roblox residency - Luxury brand Gucci also re-entered Roblox this month, building on its past efforts on the platform with the opening of a permanent residency where users could visit a branded cafe, shop and exhibition, as well as buy virtual goods
June: Meta takes its first stepsWhile Meta made it known that it was putting its emphasis on metaverse development, the social media group was arguably trailing behind others when actually integrating the virtual world into its operations. It wasn’t until June when it first introduced an avatar clothing store, albeit boasting a strong line up of designer brands among its mix, including Prada and and Balenciaga. Meanwhile, other brands were continuing to cement their place online, with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger expanding its Roblox presence and media platform Complex launching the third edition of its metaverse-based ComplexLand.
Meta opens avatar clothing store - As part of its first steps into metaverse expansion, Meta opened its first avatar clothing store, allowing shoppers to purchase digital iterations from the likes of Prada, Balenciaga and Thom Browne
Met Ams conference takes place - Amsterdam-based conference Met Ams took place in a bid to democratise the digital world and make it more accessible to groups that were currently minorities in the industry
Tommy Hilfiger expands Roblox space - Tommy Hilfiger expanded its space in the virtual world platform Roblox, introducing an activity-ridden subway system, mini games and a series of collaborative digital collections
July: Educational initiatives aim to drive the industryEducational initiatives revolving around the metaverse had been prominent all year round, and launched by a wide variety of brands, platforms and companies that each aimed to help start-ups and those new to the industry get their foot in the door. This idea was further emphasised in July by Farfetch, which launched its own Web3 accelerator programme to support emerging companies in the sector. Additionally, the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) also hosted the third edition of its Digital Fashion summer course, which welcomed students and established brands alike to learn more about this advanced technology.
Dept hosts Meta Festival - Deemed the world’s first 24-hour metaverse festival, Meta Festival was hosted by creative agency Dept to establish a conversation surrounding the metaverse/
Burberry drops virtual handbags - Burberry unveiled virtual iterations of its iconic Lola bag within open-world platform Roblox, each of which were only available to purchase over the course of 24 hours
Yeezy Gap launches game - Before the ultimate demise of the Yeezy Gap partnership, the partners released a digital game where users could control an avatar that sported looks from its collection through an immersive world
- “Shopping is about fit, not size”: Bods founder Christine Marzano talks virtual avatars and sexy tech
August: Pop-ups, start-ups and thrifting take centre stageWhile large-scale, well known brands had seemingly led the way in 2022, smaller labels and emerging retailers were beginning to gain traction in the digital realm by August. While sneaker start-up The Edit LDN entered the digital world via an NFT partnership with Bloktopia, Depop backed designers on its platform by enabling them to release digital pieces within The Sims 4. Newly founded digital-first brands also found their footing, including the phygital brand Cult&Rain which launched its own metaverse and Zero10 that opened a physical pop-up where digital garments could be tried on. This was all tied together by the unveiling of a soon-to-be-launched digital fashion marketplace Draup, which will be centred around supporting independent brands and designers.
The Edit LDN enters metaverse - Highend marketplace The Edit LDN took its first steps into the metaverse with a premium store in Bloktopia’s crypto paradise skyscraper, the first step in its ongoing Web3 strategy
Depop drops on The Sims - Resale marketplace Depop took thrifting to The Sims 4 as part of the game’s expansion pack, with in-game upcycled clothing and a new thrift store
Zero10 opens digital product pop-up - AR fashion platform Zero10 opened a pop-up that looked to merge physical and digital retail experiences, housing a five-piece virtual collection that could be purchased on-site
September: Luxury has its heydayLuxury was arguably at the forefront of most digital fashion movements over the course of the year, but during this month luxury brands became even more consistent in their launches, rapidly expanding the sector further. Bulgari took its first steps into the metaverse with a Zepeto-based experience, Dundas joined Roblox offering up a digital fashion collection for the platform and Alibaba celebrated the five-year anniversary of its Tmall site with the debut of a virtual shopping platform for its luxury brand partners. Additionally, CFDA unveiled more digital features, including a metaverse-based exhibition, and Gucci announced the appointment of a CEO for its new Metaverse Ventures division, hinting at its continued focus on the sector.
Bulgari opens virtual world - Italian luxury house Bulgari joined Zepeto to open a virtual pop-up store and immersive branded experience
CFDA celebrates anniversary in metaverse - The CFDA made its first step into the metaverse through an exhibition and collection of NFTs made in collaboration with its members
Dundas joins Roblox - Dundas became the next brand to join the Roblox platform via a partnership with digital fashion platform DressX
October: Marketing becomes metaverse firstNext to a series of NFT drops and digital product launches, October was defined by marketing activities that gave a glimpse into how digital fashion could be used throughout media in the near future. While Marks & Spencer debuted its first virtual influencer and Burberry unveiled a campaign through Minecraft, Snapchat took digital promotion one step further at an event in Amsterdam, where it allowed visitors to test out its augmented reality (AR) product features for a selection of brands. Additionally, as an expansion of its London Fashion Week line up, Black PR revealed a number of digital showrooms in a bid to aid its portfolio brands in entering the space.
Printemps launches digital fashion brand - French department store Printemps revealed its first digital fashion brand as it looked to venture into the Web3 market, consisting of a 40-piece line for women, men, unisex and pets
Meta drops headsets - Amid its reported financial struggles, Meta continued to cement its place in the digital world with the release of advanced headsets that looked to expand the possibilities of the virtual realm
Burberry enters Minecraft - Burberry launched a digital and physical partnership with Minecraft, offering up a phygital fashion collection and branded experience within the open world
November: Virtual stores present new opportunitiesVirtual stores were something that brands had only begun to explore at the beginning of the year, but towards its end the concept had been fully adopted and implemented by a range of established retailers. Lacoste was among those, introducing an immersive shopping experience where visitors could purchase digital products and take part in interactive settings around the store. Additionally, for its 150-year anniversary, department store Bloomingdale’s also debuted a digital store, albeit with multiple floors that were dedicated to various partner brands, including Chanel and Ralph Lauren. Meanwhile, sportswear giant Adidas dropped another range of NFT wearables just days after independent fashion group Xtended Identity introduced a rentable fashion collection.
Revolve prepares shoppable game - Multibrand retailer Revolve made it known that it will be entering the metaverse soon via a partnership with game developing studio Griffin Gaming Partners
Bloomingdale’s debuts multi-brand virtual shopping experience - As part of its 150-year anniversary celebrations, Bloomingdale’s unveiled a virtual shopping experience with partnered brands Ralph Lauren and Chanel
Zero10 launches AR fashion platform allowing users to create and wear digital fashion - Utilising its proprietary AR technology, Zero10 launched a digital fashion creation platform and marketplace for anyone looking to get in on the growing industry
December: AR shopping evolves e-commerceAR shopping went even further for December, as brands looked towards unique activations to support their holiday campaigns. Next to dropping its DressX collaborative collection, H&M introduced an AR feature onto its e-commerce app allowing shoppers to try and buy digital fashion pieces that could be viewed through a camera lens. Puma debuted a similar virtual try-on feature on its own newly launched app, albeit with a variety of footwear products, while Bershka also partnered with DressX on virtual clothing to be worn via an AR lens.
H&M introduces garments wearable through AR - Via a partnership with DressX, H&M unveiled three digital fashion garments that could be bought and worn through its e-commerce app
Givenchy transforms Roblox world into a ‘Winter Wonderland’ - Givenchy’s beauty brand transformed Roblox into a winter wonderland, as well as offering users the ability to don products on their own avatars
Warner Music Group partners with DressX - WMG struck a long-term deal with DressX which will see a number of its music artists take to the metaverse through digital fashion collections in the near future