Metaverse Fashion and the Future – WWD

Mishi McDuff has turned luxury metaverse fashion into a thriving business. And it all started with something to wear to meet her husband now… in the metaverse.

It was Second Life (an online game), to be precise, that spawned Blueberry Entertainment — which has sold more than 20 million units of virtual clothing since its launch in 2012, recently released a collaboration with designer Jonathan Simkhai for Fashion Week, and Friday started a collaboration to do a “high-caliber fashion drop on Roblox” in conjunction with the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen”. A virtual version of the iconic blue striped polo shirt will be available for purchase on the popular online platform, and the physical garments will be rolled out at Bloomingdale’s.

Before founding Blueberry, which she leads as CEO, McDuff, now 32, suffered from an IRL scenario many can relate to: outfit envy. Even though she was at a virtual concert in Second Life.

“I really felt out of place because my avatar was a new starter avatar and everyone looked amazing. There were fairies, there were role models and I was wearing my basic beginner outfit,” she said. A virtually tattooed avatar caught her eye, she sneaked into his DMs first and they spent the rest of the night talking. “I was determined that my avatar would be cute the next time I saw it. I already had some knowledge of Photoshop and 3D software, so I literally stayed up until morning making myself a cute dress and would happy to report that it worked – this man is now my husband.

The dress – pink with polka dots – also caught the attention of others during the upcoming performance, with attendees asking if they could buy it.

“Then I realized, okay, here’s an opportunity,” she said. “Self-expression in any social setting is just as important as your self-expression in real life because it’s always the real connections you make or the little crushes you have or the friends you drag. It’s the same motivation behind it.

Blueberry made $60,000 in its first year selling virtual clothes ten years ago, and two years later that figure had grown to over $1 million — and that was it.

Now McDuff is taking on projects like joining Simkhai to turn pieces from the Fall 2022 collection into virtual versions that avatars can wear. And after launching its digital wearables on Second Life, Roblox and iChat, Blueberry is planning an AR wearables release with Snapchat to bridge the gap between those who play video games and those who don’t, but may still want expressions. themselves for Snapchat, TikTok or Instagram.

Here, WWD brings its “10 Questions With” interview series to McDuff to find out what her decidedly more stylish avatar is wearing now, what fashion has yet to figure out about metaverse fashion, and who could be the next virtual “Chanel” in the world. †

1. So tell us, what is your avatar wearing right now?

Mishi McDuff: She is wearing ripped jeans and a button up top, kind of a business casual outfit. And then I have almost exactly the same hair that I did for my avatar trying to mimic my real life, but… skinnier. You can be anything in the metaverse.

But I want to say something about it that’s really cool. One of my best selling items is actually a collaboration I did with another designer, Stretch Marks. The fact that something that we can be so insecure about in real life can be celebrated so often – that people feel so comfortable expressing themselves and almost use it as a way to feel at home. Comfortable with their body is actually very powerful. Now I’m not a psychologist, but as a woman it is empowering to see other women embrace those things that are described as flawed and really make it part of their self-expression, even in the metaverse.

2. What would your fashion industry look like in the fantasy world? (What could be different? What could be better?)

MM: I think the only thing I would really focus on would be making the high fashion experience accessible to a wider audience. I am Turkish, was born and raised in Turkey and have a passion for fashion. Someone like me may have never seen a New York Fashion Week show, but I see it in the metaverse. I’d like to see more inclusive fashion events in the metaverse and make prizes accessible. So maybe a Balenciaga bag is out of reach for the price, but a virtual Balenciaga item is within reach. And you still get that same satisfaction, you still show it to your friends. It’s always being part of the makers and the brands, a sense of belonging, if that makes sense.

I would definitely create a fashion experience where it’s still high end, it’s still just as well thought out and produced, but it’s accessible to everyone.

McDuff and Blueberry Entertainment hosted a Metaverse Fashion Week in collaboration with designer Jonathan Simkhai.
Thanks to Blueberry Entertainment

3. What was Jonathan Simkhai’s experience like? And what does this collaboration, and Metaverse Fashion Weeks in general, mean for fashion?

MM: I mean, we’re all still learning how the fusion of real fashion and digital fashion works. It was such a great experience. First of all, Jonathan Simkhai was the easiest person to work with and he is clearly incredibly talented and I learned a lot about how a real designer looks at how something fits even on an avatar. And sometimes the little details we add are actually a representation of something that’s wrong, like how it falls. It was a great crash course in itself and I learned a lot. And I hope I’ve been able to give it the same input on how digital native players appreciate that worn-out look, that extra realism it adds.

4. Can you tell us more about the collaboration “Dear Evan Hansen”?

MM: We’re teaming up with the Tony Award-winning Broadway show to do a high-caliber fashion drop on Roblox… It’s for such a good cause, too. We donate all proceeds to the charity Child Mind [Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders], 100% of the profits go there. And the cool thing is that physical merchandise is carried by every Bloomingdale location, and we’re in charge of the digital distribution and I’m really happy about that.

Blueberry Entertainment dropped a

Blueberry Entertainment released a “Dear Evan Hansen” polo shirt in Roblox and the IRL version at Bloomingdale’s.
Thanks to Blueberry Entertainment

5. How do you explain the metaverse and what do you do to elders in your family?

MM: You should have seen their faces when I said 10 years ago, “I quit my job at Sony because I make virtual clothes. And that’s exactly how I describe it: we make wearables for avatars.

My family, after their first “what are you doing?” response, they were actually very supportive; they thought it was cool.

6. What do you think the fashion industry still doesn’t understand about the metaverse?

MM: Fashion in the metaverse, where there are so many digital designers, trends move very fast. It’s like a week in the metaverse equals a whole month in real life. It just goes faster and I think releasing a collection and then leaving it alone is just not the most effective way to reach that audience.

We’re selling an experience, we’re building a community, and selling that fashion item isn’t just about making a great item, it’s basically building a community around it and listening to their feedback or co-creating with them. We will post a work in progress and receive their feedback and edit it before posting. So I think there’s a bit of a disconnect between building a native digital community and brands, that’s why I think it’s such a win-win for physical brands to partner with digital brands that have already built this community and being able to offer live operations here in the community and keep them engaged and make them feel a part of this whole experience.

7. Do you still buy digital clothes since you can make them? And has it affected how much you buy IRL?

MM: I do it. I shop all the way. I buy too much in real life, I buy too much in the virtual world. Certainly cheaper to shop virtually.

[Buying other designers’ virtual clothes is] a completely different thing is like a different artist’s take. I make very casual clothes like Forever 21 and then for example there is a designer friend of mine who makes these outfits that you would see on Revolve. And there’s another friend of mine, her style is more Love & Lemons. And it’s just fun to discover their idea of ​​fashion and their style, sometimes just mix and match.

8. What would you like to have more time for?

MM: Explore even more metaverses to come. I know there are a lot of really cool projects coming out and we want to be on every platform possible. So what I want now and what I’m working towards is that I have the capacity and the size of the team to do that.

9. Who is your hero?

MM: My mother. First off, even my love for clothes comes from her – she’s the most stylish person I know. She is also an entrepreneur and she showed me absolutely everything I know about work ethic and even just showing up or just being in the moment and having fun with it.

10. What is your vision for fashion in the Metaverse next year?

MM: I think we’re going to see more and more digital native designers become very popular, like your 13-year-old daughter who is the Chanel of their community – I think we’ll see a lot of that. And I think there will be a lot more brand collaborations, more educated high production. Everyone is just trying different things now and learning what the possibilities are and how we can do things better and what people really appreciate and feel. I think this year and next year we will see more and more high quality, better and more exciting fashion events. And I’m sure they will work with these digital native designers.

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