Crypto Style: Fashion Moves Into the Metaverse

For fashion fans and for everyone else, 2022 will be remembered as the year the metaverse became mainstream.

Ever since Mark Zuckerberg announced last October the change of Facebook’s corporate name to Meta, the writing has been on the wall. A virtual wall, of course. Soon after, all the signs of a cultural turning point appeared: the wave of Super Bowl ads for cryptocurrency exchanges (LeBron James for, Larry David for FTX), the jokes and sketches of the metaverse. Saturday Night Live, and the release of Snoop Dogg’s first music video set in the metaverse, featuring a digitized avatar of the rap mogul smoking bluts and wallowing in his “Snoopverse,” a virtual world he’s building online (2,000-step advance access steps) dollars per pop).

Fashion designers are paying attention. Scourged by the issue of fashion sustainability and the latest supply chain issues, brands are looking for some reinforcement. “In the real world, the possibilities are limited,” says designer Philipp Plein. “The metaverse opens a whole new frontier.”

Plein, whose luxury brand now accepts more than 20 different cryptocurrencies in its online and physical stores, recently dropped $ 1.4 million to buy virtual real estate on Decentraland, a popular online platform that allows users to build a 3D metaverse immersive. experience. He erected a 120-foot-tall virtual skyscraper in time for Metaverse Fashion Week, or MVFW, the world’s largest digital fashion event, held in Decentraland for four days in March.

Unlike real-life fashion weeks, MVFW was free and open to the public, with avatar models, animated catwalks, and later parties, with more than 70 brands and artists, including Karl Lagerfeld, Tommy Hilfiger, Elie Saab, Cavalli, Etro, Dolce. & Gabbana, Estée Lauder and Selfridges, as well as native digital creators (virtual, non-real clothing creators) such as Auroboros, Fewocious and The Fabricant

“By their nature, brands tend to expand and create their own universe,” says Plein, noting the entry of fashion designers into home decor, hospitality, cars and more. In the metaverse, he suggests, one could have a “luxury brand zoo, hospital, [even a] state with its own cryptocurrency “.

The Etro store in Decentraland, which sold metaverse fashion collections

Courtesy of Decentraland

Digital track

The fashion industry has been dipping its pedicure finger in these waters for a few years, whether it’s the metaverse itself (alternative 3D environments accessed via virtual reality headsets and online platforms), wearables (the digital pieces in which it uses your avatar). those platforms), non-fungible tokens (also known as NFTs, collectibles unique in their kind).

in the form of digital images, videos, or audio files) or cryptocurrency (the digital dollars used in the metaverse to buy wearables, NFTs, and more).

Last year, Christie’s auctioned off a Gucci NFT, the first of a luxury brand, for $ 25,000. An NFT “Baby Birkin” inspired by the famous Hermès bag (this one in animated form, which represents a translucent bag and a fetus developed inside) was created by two Los Angeles artists, not the brand itself, and generated great enthusiasm, selling at an auction. for $ 47,000. Paris Fashion Week offered NFT to selected guests. Burberry, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton followed. Nike bought RTFKT virtual tennis clothing and partnered with Roblox (a metaverse platform) to create its immersive Nikeland. Adidas bought “land” for its own space in the Sandbox (another metaverse platform).

“We live in a time when technology continues to blur the lines between our physical and digital lives,” says Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, head of MVFW at Decentraland. MVFW attracted 108,000 unique attendees. They strolled through places of science fiction, some in fantastic clothing wearing wings, dragon heads, illuminated ponytails, and twinkling lights in orbit. Others with hoodies or gym shorts.

The main walkway of Decentraland.

Courtesy of Decentraland

Democratized luxury

Such democratization fuels enthusiasm for the metaverse.

“Very few people have access to this crazy luxury world in real life,” says Sofia Sanchez of Betak, whose Chufy brand is often sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and The Webster. “This is a way a lot of people can glimpse it.”

Chufy has built a virtual pop-up store in the Decentraland fashion district for MVFW. It looked like a fashion store along Montaigne Avenue in Paris, but with geishas and floating mannequins printed on it and 3D waves inside.

For Sánchez de Betak, the metaverse feeds a new kind of desire to wander and an emotion reminiscent of the times when places like Cuba or Myanmar opened up to tourism. “It’s like traveling to another dimension,” she says.

There are twists in the metaverse, for sure. Today, metaverse technology differs on each platform, so a fabulous NFT purchased on one site cannot be used on another. And the environmental cost is debatable: proponents point out that virtual fashion can satiate our hunger for fast fashion and help save the environment. Opponents point out that the cryptocurrencies that underpin all of this activity are linked to blockchains, the digital account books that verify these transactions, which require computer banks, and large amounts of energy.

Still, a designer can dream.

“We’re exploring,” Sanchez de Betak says. “To the generation that’s already in that world, we’re just greeting, trying to figure out what it’s all about.”

This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of Penta magazine.

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