Open world gaming platform Roblox has published a new report in which it has evaluated the current trends and possible future behaviours of its 50 million strong user base and their relationship with digital fashion. The 2022 Metaverse Fashion Trend Report comes as part of a new collaboration between Roblox and Parsons School of Design, which worked with the platform on researching and collecting the data.
With the results, Roblox said it hoped to underline how important self-expression through digital identity and avatar style is for Gen Z, the largest user base of metaverse-centred platforms. Next to behavioural data from its own community, Roblox also surveyed 1,000 members of the Gen Z group living in the US to provide an elaborate look at consumer preferences.
In a press release for the report, Roblox’s vice president of global partnerships, Christina Wootton, said: “Gen Z consumers are spending more time in immersive social spaces like Roblox, where they have been expressing themselves through their creations and digital style preferences for over a decade.
“With their growing economic power and influence on fashion, trends from the metaverse are expected to have a profound impact on physical fashion, while trends from the physical world will also continue to move into the metaverse.”
Digital creator communities on the rise
Wootton also noted that the next generation of fashion designers and brands are likely to become deeply immersed in digital fashion, designing collections to be worn in the virtual world by avatars. This was evident in Roblox’s reported 25 percent rise in the number of active creators making digital goods for its platform, with around 11.5 million creators having designed more than 62 million clothing and accessory items over the course of 2022.
Based on this data, Roblox said there are at least 200 times as many creators designing clothing and accessories on Roblox as there are fashion designers creating physical collections in the US.
Speaking on these figures, Daniel Drak, assistant professor of strategic design and fashion communication at Parsons, was quoted saying: “On Roblox, some of the community creators may be dabbling in creation and designing items as a hobby, but what’s important to underscore is this ability to easily create digital fashion and make it available to a global consumer audience allows many more individuals to get creative.”
Gen Z emphasise demand for customisation and inclusivity
This idea of an expanded, diverse creator base was also present in Gen Z’s desire for inclusive, highly-customisable fashion offerings on the platform. Nearly all surveyees said that they had done at least some customisation to their avatars, while over half said they had customised “a lot”. Approximately 40 percent of the platform’s active users updated their avatars at least once a month, with around 18 percent updating daily.
There was also a call for diversity in personalisation options, including the demand for a range of skin tones, body sizes and personal features, such as hair colour and style. Most users emphasised the importance of digital clothing being inclusive for all body types, an element that spurred Roblox to introduce its ‘Layered Clothing’ feature earlier this year, allowing 3D garments to fit all avatar types. Since its launch, the platform said nearly 11 million users have purchased items from the category, with 157 million having acquired both free and paid garments to date.
Fashion holds as much value in metaverse
Seemingly, Gen Z are also valuing digital fashion just as much as its physical counterpart, with 42 percent of respondents stating that expressing themselves digitally was just as important as that of real world expression. Additionally, over three quarters said it was important to be “fashionably dressed” in the metaverse.
Users were found to receive inspiration for their digital selves from various sources, including physical fashion trends, their favourite brands and, mostly, from other avatars. Their spending habits also further emphasised this growing connection towards digital fashion, with nearly three out of four respondents stating that they would spend their money on digital clothing. Over 60 percent said they spent five to 20 dollars monthly, while 12 percent were found to be spending 50 to 100 dollars.
Roblox to expand partnership with Parsons
To build on its partnership with Parsons, Roblox will also be working with the New York-based school on a course collaboration, through which students will learn how to create digital apparel. Available from the spring 2023 semester, the 16-week course aims to help prepare participants for changing mediums, with a curriculum that covers research, prototyping digital and physical fashion and applying new technologies to design, as well as the opportunity to work with experienced designers from Parsons and Roblox communities.
In the end, students will be able to create physical and digital clothing and accessories at Parsons and in Roblox's Avatar Marketplace. In a release announcing the partnership, Shana Agid, dean of the School of Art and Media Technology at Parsons, said: “Partnering with Roblox offers Parsons students working in creative technologies an exciting opportunity to engage the complex intersection of visual culture and social structure, and to play with how we make meaning when we dress ourselves – in digital and physical worlds.”
The school will also be collaborating with Roblox on a virtual panel by a range of metaverse experts, set to be hosted on November 2. Participants will discuss key findings and share predictions on the future of the digital fashion industry to answer the question: “What’s next in metaverse fashion?”