When gaming platform Roblox released its Metaverse Fashion Trends 2022 report earlier this month it underscored the global demand for digital fashion, its widespread impact in the industry, and the opportunities for brands and creators that lie ahead.
One of the key insights in the report was how user behaviour echoed that of the physical world, with community members on platforms like Roblox connecting with and reacting to others based on the way they look and dress, highlighting the role of fashion in the digital realm.
FashionUnited spoke with Gemma Sheppard, Metaverse Global Fashion Director at Dubit and the first fashion stylist working in the metaverse on Roblox, which has 58 million daily users. A key contributor to the Metaverse Fashion Trends report, Ms Sheppard’s insights into digital identities and virtual fashion are leading a new chapter in the history of fashion.
Is expressing individuality through digital avatars becoming more important than doing so in real life for GenZ?
I don’t think it’s a case of either/or. As with our own ‘online’ lives and ‘real’ lives, they can exist next to each other. For various reasons, not everybody feels they can be ‘themselves’ in the real world. Whether this is due to geographic, monetary, or ethical constraints, many people feel stifled. In the metaverse, these barriers are removed. People can be who they want to be and live how they want to live. Your online avatar may have a tail and only wear sequins, which could be in complete contradiction to what you wear in real life. Knowing that you have this freedom can have a positive impact on your mental health and how you deal with day-to-day life.
Can metaverse platforms have a positive impact on self-confidence and relationships?
The metaverse is a hugely creative, all-inclusive space. People can express themselves and become a representation of the type of person that they envisage themselves to be. The confidence that people can develop in the metaverse can become a by-product in real life and this, in turn, allows people to express themselves more authentically. I’m hoping that as technology and the real world converge, it will help accelerate our ability to accept each other as we are and have an enormously positive impact on self-confidence and relationships.
The report claims that two-thirds are excited to wear brand-name virtual items on Roblox. Do you think brand / retail chains will now be more receptive to creating experiences/e-commerce in the metaverse?
Most definitely; there are a huge number of global fashion brands already creating both digital fashion and immersive experiences for users of Roblox. We are also seeing design houses such as Gucci and Burberry tapping into the Roblox community’s skills to help develop some incredible designs and engaging content for users of the platform.
How crucial is it that digital clothing designs are inclusive?
It’s absolutely crucial and that is the whole point of fashion in the metaverse. It’s both limitless and inclusive so it can be enjoyed by everyone. A metaverse is a place where anyone can express themselves through fashion, therefore, brands are able to unleash their creativity without the usual restrictions you come across in design and fabrication.
Beyond clothing, how else can GenZ style their avatars?
Whilst GenZ’s avatars are an extension of themselves, they can look, dress and have completely different identities to their real-life persona. There are a whole host of accessories that can be added to your avatar, from the usual accessories such as bags and shoes to the more fantastical tails or wings!