The fashion industry has always been known for finding and leading the next hottest community trends. As the world enters the digital age, it is no surprise that many well-known luxury brands have been turning digital. From virtual fashion shows, Louis Vuitton avatar skins, Balenciaga’s partnership with Fortnite, and Gucci’s virtual Garden Space in Roblox, the fashion industry is taking on the metaverse. The metaverse enables democratization of the industry for designers and developers to get creative.
However, it did not just appear overnight once Facebook rebranded to “Meta.” The metaverse is the next iteration of the internet itself. It started with Web 1.0, which enabled transmittal of information. As innovation continued, Web 2.0 emerged as a way to connect people allowing social apps such as Facebook to gain popularity. Web 3.0, while still in its infancy, connects not only people, but spaces, locations, assets, people, and things. Web 3.0 advances the 2-dimensional landscape and brings it to 3D with virtual reality technology. Instead of just viewing the content, Web 3.0 also allows people to interact with it introducing a shift in how people communicate, shop, and work. The metaverse name itself is attributed to the 1990s book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson.
NFTs are a big driver of this draw to the metaverse through its scarcity in value and how it helps to create community. Once NFTs began to take off in late 2021, it provided the catalyst for the gaming industry to adopt the technology for items and avatars. It was only a matter of time before the fashion industries heeded the call for personalization and self-expression through avatar fashion.
NFTs symbolize creativity through their artwork. The fashion industry is the ultimate expression for physical creativity. However, not only do NFTs serve as a visual expression, they also function as a certificate of authenticity for purchases, a pass to engage with a membership community, and much more.
As NFTs gain more traction and innovators are developing more use cases, the fashion industry is using NFTs and helping advance the trends in the metaverse’s immersive, interconnected digital worlds as well as redefining eCommerce.
Already established fashion designers are beginning to build store fronts in places like Decentraland and Sandbox. By introducing NFTs into the mix, they are establishing new ideas of community between a brand and its buyers with access to special deals and collections, more personal customer service, and more.
For new designers and creators, the metaverse allows a way to democratize the fashion industry itself as people would have easier access to up-and-coming designers than they could in the physical world. It also eliminates some of the barriers of entry with less of a need for formal training, cost savings on materials, and eliminating a need for significant access to capital. New creatives and designers are less constrained to create in the metaverse.
Producing fewer physical products also brings a level of sustainability to fashion brands. As the cost of material goods continue to rise and we continue to see supply chain challenges, the ability to showcase a design in the digital world and allow a person to see what it would look like prior to purchase, a lot of waste is eliminated. From time waste, product waste, and financial waste, the metaverse allows fashion brands to be more dynamic and sustainable while at the same time, providing an additional layer to the customer experience.
Written by Jenell McLaughlin