“A virtual reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users”
It still sounds like a sci-fi movie concept, but talk about the Metaverse is raging everywhere in the real world, especially in the fashion industry. While few seem to grasp what the Metaverse is or how it works, that hasn’t stemmed the daily tide of rising excitement about it. That’s because excited CEOs acclaim the Metaverse as not only the future of communication and the internet, but the future of the entire economy.
Gartner, a consulting firm which conducts technological reporting and research, predicts that, by 2026, one out of four people will spend at least an hour per day in the Metaverse. By 2030, NYC Future Today Institute Director Melanie Subin predicts that a large portion of people will even work or learn in it.
But what is the Metaverse? And how does it affect the fashion world?
What Is the Metaverse?
Wired explains in a blog that, to better understand the concept of the Metaverse, we can just substitute its name with “cyber-space” or “cyber-world” to more clearly convey the idea a non-physical space where people connect and interact with each other like they would in real life or IRL. How the Metaverse will actually look and function is still for the most part unclear – and most creators are working hard to keep it that way. After all, it is easier to attract interest to a product that, as of right now, leaves plenty of space for readers’ (and investors’) imaginations to roam.
Some predict that people will build virtual houses in this alternative reality, where they can invite and connect with friends. Some envision the Metaverse as a new frontier for traveling and social interactions in general. Others suspect it will be more work-centered, replete with virtual offices where co-workers sit next to each other and interact through digital avatars or holograms.
Even if the Metaverse is a digital (sometimes loose) re-adaptation of reality, so far, its potential appears unlimited.
Fashion and the Metaverse Universe
While we wait to see what surprises the Metaverse will offer, the fashion industry has wasted no time investing in it. From Gucci to Louis Vuitton, and Prada to Nike, luxury and athleisure fashion brands are establishing roots in this virtual reality.
In May 2021, Gucci launched its limited time, two week only Garden space on the Roblox online game. Here gamers could explore a virtual representation of the Gucci Garden in Florence and find hidden items or accessories available for purchase (and even some free treasures). Prices for many goods varied between $1.20 and $9, but others like the $4,100 Dionysus Bag with Bee fetched upwards of what the physical item is worth IRL.
Gucci’s next experiment in this realm will be the launch of Vault – a “new experimental online space” where users can find some of the luxury brand’s most famous creations, as well as some pieces from its new collections, plus art and NFTs created in collaboration with Superplastic. Just a few days ago, the Italian fashion house also announced the acquisition of virtual land on the Sandbox (the actual amount of which they have yet to disclose), which is likely where their Vault’s virtual experience will take place.
Louis Vuitton has also been bold recently releasing its very own virtual product, Louis the Game. Presented as a celebration of the 200th birthday of the brand, the game allows players to explore six different locations around the world to search for “200 collectible candles to celebrate our founder Louis Vuitton”. Each candle found rewards gamers with access to different stories about the journey behind the creation of the fashion house. Some of the comments left on Google Play describe the game and the designs as mesmerizing, an expectedly on-brand assessment.
Luxury brands aren’t the only fashion players going Meta. Back in the Roblox domain, Nike recently launched its own project: Nikeland – a virtual playground where gamers customize avatars and a personal Yard. Here, players can also visit other Yards or explore the buildings around their spaces, and even discover and build small towns where they can find free items and avatar gadgets. In this virtual space, players can also purchase furniture for their Yards at The Showroom, where they can exchange virtual Coins for ramps, trees, trampolines, and more.
An Unclear Future for Fashion in the Metaverse
On February 22nd, the Superverse Middle Eastern creators summit will begin in Dubai. It will feature artists, designers, CEOs, and founders showcasing their digital creations and startups, set up together to discuss the future of the Metaverse and NFTs.
While this new reality may still seem distant for most people, it is already here for many others. Despite the current vague predictions about life in the Metaverse, it is clear that it will become part of our lives in the next few years. How will that affect the physical fashion world? Already, luxury brands have created virtual items more costly than their physical counterparts. Will that become the norm?
We don’t yet know the answer to that question, but we do know that fashion brands are creating new digital products every day and that job descriptions containing the word Metaverse have increased 100-fold since the term became a point of discussion. A virtual reality in which avatars have the same needs as their owners won’t take away or make those needs disappear in real life, so how this new world will impact the market remains unclear.
In the meanwhile, stay tuned to MakersValley’s 3-part Metaverse and fashion blog series, coming soon to this site.