The metaverse names a virtual-reality space where users own digital avatars, use them to interact in a computer-generated environment and can meet, socialize, shop and play. The metaverse offers a virtual life free from reality’s limitations. It includes more advanced graphics, uses non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and incorporates decentralization; the qualities that have attracted lots of industries to the metaverse, one of the most recent ones being digital fashion.
It seems difficult for many to comprehend the idea underlying digital fashion since buying and trying on clothes that only exist in a virtual world can initially seem quite strange. The top-of-the-edge technology used in the metaverse has resulted in more realistic avatars, which need to be more carefully outfitted.
The advent of NFTs has created the opportunity for users to own every physical concept in the digital world and their avatars can easily own unique items of clothing and accessories as NFTs. Considering that almost all celebrities have their avatar in the metaverse, no one will want to be underdressed or under-accessorized in the metaverse. Therefore, the metaverse seems to deeply influence fashion and provide a new concept in this money-making industry.
In the following, we aim to review the influences of the metaverse on the fashion industry and see if the metaverse helps the industry grow larger.
What is digital fashion?
Experts like Lokesh Rao, CEO of Trace Network Labs, emphasize the influence of Web3 on modern products and services. They argue that as the Metaverse continues to evolve, it will influence and revolutionize the new industries added to the space. Among all, the fashion industry seems to be much more affected by the metaverse as the industry has realized that the virtual world requires fashion to be more outstanding. The evolution of design technologies allows creative designers to design clothes that can never be worn in the real world. However, in the Metaverse, a digital avatar is allowed to wear any garment without any constraints of type, design, fabric, and use.
Rao also argues that since there is no need for physical clothes in the metaverse, it is much easier for users to experiment and create colorful wardrobes for their avatars. Besides, these clothes can be freely traded in NFT markets since the clothes are in the form of digital collectibles or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This further adds to the long-term value of digital clothes which many physical or second-hand clothing items do not possess.
Meanwhile, the most important utility of the Metaverse about the fashion industry seems to be the joy of deploying avatars to visit different stores and try different clothes before making a purchase decision.
In fact, the metaverse provides the space for companies, labels and fashion houses to gain advantages such as having a borderless presence that removes physical limitations, creates brand awareness globally using digital means and retailing digital clothes while delivering convenience to their customers.
On the other hand, consumers also enjoy several advantages such as trying on clothes at their own convenience, time and place, ordering garments from a virtual store either in physical format or as an NFT, getting physical deliveries processed from anywhere in the globe and maintaining their ownership on the blockchain forever.
Does metaverse fashion make sense?
As we already discussed, the metaverse provides a digital world where people, spaces, and assets exist in a fully virtual synthetic environment.
Web 1.0 was developed to facilitate the transfer of information from one user to another. However, Web 2.0 aimed to focus on connecting people and creating a sharing economy. Now, Web 3.0 provides a place where these connections can be explored on a more interactive level.
Web 3.0 allows people to interact with content through sight and hearing as well as through touch, perhaps even taste and smell. It is already known that the metaverse is here to essentially create an extension of our sensory experiences on the internet.
To join Web 3.0, people need to have digital identities which seems to evolve our senses within the metaverse. As the result, fashion, as a form of self-expression and autonomy appointed to a particular time period and place, would find its space in the metaverse.
Considering the pressure on the fashion industry to create new designs every day as well as the waste of sources used in the industry, many brand designers are willing to explore alternative forms of fashion. In this case, digital fashion tries to find its way to the metaverse to share the most creative designs in the space and satisfy the requirements. In return, the metaverse also makes it easier for smaller designers to break into the market as they need computers and the Internet to create and sell digital pieces.
NFTs in fashion industry
NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital tokens that live in a blockchain and represent physical or digital assets. In essence, ownership of an NFT means the ownership of a code stored on a verified ledger that stores prior ownership information. Ownership of an NFT generally does not include ownership of the related intellectual property since it is used to identify the underlying code that is owned.
In the virtual fashion industry, NFTs represent cloth designing in the metaverse. NFTs allow the production of unlimited digital goods that can be purchased as one-of-a-kind assets. The nature of NFTs answers a variety of issues associated with NFTs, including trademark and copyright concerns for brand owners and the licensing of those rights. The metaverse, on the other hand, provides a rather secure space for fashion designers to introduce their fascinating ideas to users.
Are fashion labels already found in the metaverse?
In 2022, a number of well-known brands such as Adidas, Nike and Gucci have generated over $137.5 million in NFT sales alone. Dolce & Gabbana owns the record for the most expensive suit ever sold. This digital Glass Suit was sold for $1 million late last year. In another sale, D&G sold Queen Bee Dionysus virtual bag for 350,000 Robux or $4,000, which was more than the bag’s real-life valuation.
Late 2021, Louis Vuitton developed a video game that required players to hunt for 30 NFTs hidden within its metaverse. Those who found these items were rewarded with the access to various exclusive events and private parties. The list also includes big brands such as Balenciaga (providing high-fashion skins to players) and Ralph Lauren (releasing a virtual fashion collection).
Metaverse experts argue that the gap between real and virtual worlds continues to narrow as new technological advancements are added to Web3.0. Therefore, average consumers will increasingly have more choices to express themselves. As the result, if you cannot afford to buy a designer dress in real life, you might pick one for yourself in the digital world.
According to the news, several fashion houses such as Gucci, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc. have dedicated teams to explore and test the Web3 space as they have realized the potential of the digital market for accepting fashion. Thus, the future dominated by decentralized technologies offers the space for fashion industry to play out, especially as more and more brands continue to join the metaverse every day.
Virtual land acquisition by fashion industry
About 6,090 square foot parcel of digital land was sold to Tokens.com on Decentraland in November 2021. It cost about $2.4 million in crypto and was the largest real estate transaction on the platform to date.
Later, Tokens.com announced that the virtual land is set to be used by fashion brands to advertise, host fashion shows, and have e-commerce storefronts. The digital properties are located in the Fashion Street District of Decentraland which is the perfect place for fashion brands to connect with metaverse users shortly.
In one of their very first activities, a fashion week was held in Decentraland in March, 2021. It was the first time that the metaverse hosted a four-day “catwalk shows and showcases, pop-up shops, after parties, and immersive experiences. The success of the show reveals the growth of digital fashion in the metaverse.
A final word
With the incredibly fast growth of the metaverse and Web 3.0, more and more various industries try to gain their share in the platform. Fashion industry also has read the code and several well-known brands have already joined the metaverse and are currently active to supply the demands of their users. Though, the metaverse also provides a stream to support less known fashion brands as it aims to offer as many choices as possible to all its users regardless of their economical conditions.