How fashion brands are targeting the emerging metaverse

Dolce & Gabbana snagged the record for the most expensive suit ever sold: his digital suit The Glass Suit fetched $1 million (351.4 ETH) last October, and the largest D&The G NFT collection has taken in $6 million from buyers wanting access to the Italian designer’s exclusive virtual garments. Gucci’s “Queen Bee Dionysus” bag sold for 350,000 Robux (a currency used in games for avatar accessories), or US$4,115 – more than its actual price.

“Influencing culture and the associated soft power is an incredible opportunity for companies that want to stay relevant,” Yat Siu, founder and CEO of Animoca Brands, a venture capitalist and game developer based in Washington, said this month. Hong Kong.

“Virtual clothing and digital fashion is a natural extension for people who already use social media filters on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. The comfort with which we operate in digital environments is how brands will capitalize on this momentous cultural shift. They will want to sell products and be present in what we now call the metaverse. »

NFT Frenzy

An NFT is a piece of exchangeable code attached to a digital item, such as an image or video. A secure computer network records the asset on a digital ledger, giving the buyer proof of authenticity and ownership. As the asset changes hands, the ledger records each owner. It’s a technical breakthrough that cemented “ownership” on the internet, a long-standing issue for creators and artists whose work can be easily and instantly reproduced endlessly.

A model shows off the Tears in the Rain dress which was also hit as an NFT. Louise Kennerley

But alongside the technical breakthrough, a speculative frenzy has emerged that has led to over $30 billion in changing hands in 2021 alone. speculators are spending huge sums on what looks like digital images, luxury brands have been busy integrating new technology into their business models.

Bernstein’s global luxury goods analyst Luca Solca points to three main ways these fashion houses use to exploit virtual products.

By offering token versions of their physical products — like Avakian did with its “Tears in the Rain” collection — they’re offering young people a new price tag, Solca says. Digital clothes cost far less to make and maintain than high-end physical clothes, and Bernstein uses Gucci as a powerful example to give young people a taste of luxury ownership — sometimes for as little as $10.

Additionally, luxury brands are developing immersive virtual spaces – like Avakian has done with its meta-retail store in New York – and that means customers can visit and have a boutique experience no matter where they are. find. Staff can also work on meta and physical locations; when one is calm, they can take care of the other.

The pandemic has also forced parties and events online, which Solca says has caught major fashion houses by surprise.

“The COVID-19 pandemic – and the lockdowns it has brought – have clearly shown how ill-equipped the industry is when it comes to creating virtual worlds events,” he says.

A virtual Gucci Dionysus bag sold for over US$4,500 – above the real price.

“Brands are racing to create digital events, exhibitions, product launches, presentations. These are becoming more immersive and compelling day by day.

Last year, Louis Vuitton launched a video game in which a flowery creature called Vivienne explored a series of multicolored worlds. Players were looking for 30 NFTs hidden in the digital universe, which gave them access to exclusive parties.

Balenciaga has partnered with Fortnite, a video game with more than 300 million users, to sell “skins” or high fashion outfits to gamers. Ralph Lauren took advantage of the action by teaming up with South Korean social networking app Zepeto to launch a virtual fashion collection for gamers.

Many believe that it is not a momentary success. The uniqueness of NFTs means some can skyrocket: one created by digital artist Mike Winkelmann – also known as Beeple – sold at auction house Christie’s in 2021 for a record 69, $3 million, according to ARTnews. New York-based NFT marketplace OpenSea has over 1 million users and generated $365 million in revenue in 2021.

The founders of fashion brand Injury, Eugene Leung and Dan Tse, are the Sydney-based husband and wife team that uses digital fashion as a way to remove carbon emissions from their design process.

Founders of fashion brand Injury, husband and wife team Dan Tse and Eugene Leung, say NFTs are creating future revenue streams.

The couple – who have been showing physical collections since 2004 – decided at this year’s AAFW for the second year in a row to show a CGI fashion film for their 2022-23 “Rare Reality” collection. Eight avatar models have been depicted in an otherworldly multiverse.

A physical runway show can cost a designer over $50,000, but Leung says using technology has helped not only cut costs, but also minimize waste – for example, using augmented reality to sample and make to order.

The collection is available for purchase digitally on the NFT DRESS X marketplace, where the buyer can wear it in augmented reality, and the garment is also available as a physical, made-to-order product.

Tse says it’s not only a great marketing tool, but it will also create new revenue streams and hopefully attract new customers.

“As you see at Gucci and brands like Artifact, they’re doing very well in terms of revenue and profit. So we’re definitely aiming to do that,” she says.

“But as a starting point, we think it’s also a really good marketing tool because these are really hot topics. Now NFTs, metaverse and fashion – and we really want to be the first to speak on digital fashion theme.

A computer-generated projection during the Injury show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022. Getty

Leung points to NFT secondary transaction royalties as another benefit.

“The original designer and creators get a percentage. I think that’s also one of the benefits of having NFTs, and being an early adopter and early adopter, because the earlier you are in the space , your NFTs will be in that space for longer.If you keep promoting your brand and keep promoting the same products, you will be rewarded,” he says.

Geoffrey Perez, Head of Luxury at Snapchat, is also focusing on augmented reality and virtual try-ons. Snapchat is helping luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton understand the new market of Millennials and Gen Z.

“What we’re doing is creating these new augmented reality tools where people can feel and experience products better,” he says from Paris.

Perez says shoppers who engage with augmented reality drive higher conversion rates, so there’s a financial opportunity for these luxury brands. Beyond just increasing sales, there is also a more sustainable way to sell as 42% of returns can be avoided if people could try and experience the products beforehand.

As fashion week drew to a close this month, there was as much talk of new technology as new designs.

Avakian, whose ‘Tears in the Rain’ NFTs have yet to sell on OpenSea, says the mix of art and technology will only increase.