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Fashion tech: In 2023 the metaverse took a back seat

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |Opinion

Dolce & Gabbana runway show during Metaverse Fashion Week 2022 Credits: Decentraland, MVFW

When the world was housebound during the pandemic, all things digital stepped to the fore. Not a week went by without a fashion brand launching a digital activation, aiming to build communities in the ether via augmented reality, virtual reality, or any other Web3 application, all to appeal to our avatars and seek revenue via new digital channels. Not long after, the NFT bubble burst. It is fair to say that digital fashion products have at best received a tepid reception, and virtual items are yet to impress the same feeling of value as do physical ones.

As it turned out, in 2023, the fashion industry exhibited a notable hesitancy to fully embrace the metaverse, exercising more caution than innovation. With a world at war and climate change requiring fashion businesses to navigate new strategies, the promised land where the metaverse would seamlessly integrate with the fashion industry remained limited.

Fashion and metaverse integration is limited

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One primary challenge for the fashion industry was the practicality of translating the tangible and sensory nature of fashion into the virtual realm. Fashion thrives on the tactile experience of fabrics, the visual allure of designs, and the emotional connection formed when trying on garments. The metaverse, while a promising space for digital interaction, struggled to recreate these essential aspects, leaving fashion professionals skeptical about the feasibility of a seamless transition.

Moreover, the metaverse presented uncertainties regarding its long-term impact on the industry. Fashion is an ever-evolving sector that thrives on innovation, yet the metaverse's rapid emergence left many questioning its staying power and whether the substantial investments required would yield sustainable returns. The risk of adopting a trend that might be fleeting deterred fashion businesses from fully committing to metaverse integration.

Consumer adoption of digital identities also played a pivotal role in the fashion industry's cautious stance. Despite the growing prevalence of digital interactions and the metaverse's appeal to various sectors, consumers were not uniformly embracing the idea of crafting and projecting digital versions of themselves. Privacy concerns, data security, and the desire for authentic, tangible experiences influenced consumers to maintain a degree of separation between their physical and digital identities.

The metaverse, at least in 2023, struggled to offer a compelling enough reason for consumers to abandon traditional modes of fashion engagement. The act of physically trying on clothes, feeling textures, and experiencing the ambiance of a physical store remained integral to the consumer's relationship with fashion. As a result, the metaverse faced resistance in convincing consumers to relinquish these aspects for a fully digital experience.

As 2023 comes to a close, the fashion industry's reluctance to embrace the metaverse highlights both the practical challenges in translating fashion into the digital space and uncertainties regarding the metaverse's long-term impact. Consumers' hesitancy to adopt digital identities and the desire for tangible, authentic fashion experiences further contributed to the industry's cautious approach. As both the fashion landscape and the metaverse continue to evolve, the eventual integration of these two realms remains a complex and dynamic process.

Digital Fashion