Luxury takes over the metaverse

Welcome to the next world. In 2022, not a week goes by without a label announcing its foray into the universe of the metaverse, this virtual parallel space with strong creative and commercial potential. Of course, this applies to the so-called “new generation” brands, but also to the luxury giants who, such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Prada or Balenciaga, are embarking on the digital adventure , each with their own way of communication and ideas. For those who are not Gen Z, this phenomenon is quite complex at first glance. We talk about blockchain, NFT, cryptocurrencies, virtual products and video games…

Specifically, what does a house launching into the metaverse do? It is mainly a matter of making clothes, fashion accessories, jewelry and sometimes even bottles of digital champagne – Dom Pérignon has done it – from already existing products. “Luxury houses, some more than a century old, have built their reputation on their know-how and inspired creative proposals. Usually they want to keep this notion of luxury when offering objects in the immersive universe. At this stage, therefore, the idea is not to replace the real thing, but to offer the virtual version of a beautiful real object,” explains Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, co-founder of Arianee, a platform that advises brands on this topic.

In the game “The Ralph Lauren Winter Escape”, on Roblox.© Ralph Lauren

These digital products evolve on the web, mostly between social networks and online games. These “skins” – as that’s what these fictional clothing and accessories should be called in the slang – offer players and internet users the opportunity to stylishly dress their digital doppelgangers – avatars – with strong pieces. A way for homes to target a new generation of consumers who are as connected as they are influential, and to communicate through channels more powerful than they appear. For example, at the end of 2021, the American giant Ralph Lauren launched a digital clothing collection dedicated to winter sports, inspired by the Polo Sport line of the 90s. Everything was exclusively for sale on the Roblox video game platform. An operation that was accompanied by a digital experience: The Ralph Lauren Winter Escape, a game that allows fashion lovers to explore the universe of Ralph Lauren in the metaverse. “Our foray into the metaverse is a natural extension of our lifestyle brand, which has always been about bringing customers into the world of Ralph Lauren,” said Alice Delahunt, director of content & digital at Ralph Lauren. Our partnership with Roblox builds on years of digital innovation and underscores our belief in the potential of virtual economies and spaces, especially in our relationship with the next generation of consumers. »

This is not an isolated case. Last December, Louis Vuitton devised a virtual game to celebrate the founder’s 200th birthday. Soberly christened Louis: The Game, the experience featured Vivienne, a monogrammed mascot, who went in search of 200 birthday candles against a backdrop of the house’s history. There were also 30 hidden NFTs (these non-fungible tokens, or non-fungible tokens, which are equivalent to virtual object title deeds), 10 of which were signed by the industry leader Beeple. “The media is changing at such a rate that you need to be able to constantly tell your story with new ways of communicating,” explains Michael Burke, President and CEO of Louis Vuitton.

A parallel world to invest

After seducing the art market, the precious NFTs, valuable objects in the metaverse, have indeed fallen into favor with the worlds of luxury and fashion. Out of use, Dolce & Gabbana presented “Collezione Genesi”, a series of nine NFT haute couture pieces (three jackets and a men’s suit, two dresses, two crowns and a tiara) unveiled in Venice during Alta Moda; Burberry has created its own NFT accessories in collaboration with the video game platform Blankos Block Party; and Gucci has just launched “SuperGucci”, a collection of 250 NFTs that will be launched in three phases … As digital as they are, these new types of products sometimes fetch astronomical sums. For example, the sale of Dolce & Gabbana NFTs, which took place on UNXD, a specialized platform, raised more than 5 million euros.

A haute couture NFT from the series

A haute couture NFT from the series “Collezione Genesi”, Dolce&Gabbana.© Dolce&Gabbana

In this parallel world, each house progresses at its own pace and without losing sight of its identity. This is the case of Fendi who in January unveiled real suitcases with futuristic accents (in polished aluminum) designed to accommodate the physical electronic wallet of cryptocurrencies of the company Ledger (a kind of USB key). “Fendi is synonymous with innovation and craftsmanship, and we love to deceive the eyes. For us, creation is as much about the invisible as it is about the visible, which is why it is so important for us to embrace this near future and become a bridge between physical and virtual luxuries. The Fendi codes applied to innovative Ledger devices are an exciting first step. Who knows where this could lead us? said Silvia Fendi, Artistic Director of Accessories and Men’s Collections.

In addition to products, major fashion events are not immune to this digital revolution. During the last week of haute couture, the creator Julien Fournié presented a filmed opus called First Love, in which two silhouettes were conceived for the game Pubg Mobile. Another scenario: Crossing the Channel at the end of 2021, at the time of the British Fashion Awards, it was the British Fashion Council’s turn to adapt to the times by presenting a brand new award: the Metaverse Design, awarded to cSapphire , a creator who speaks on the Roblox platform. Clearly, the connected youth is not done shaking up established codes. Recently, Balenciaga announced the creation of a division dedicated to this parallel market (the Metaverse Business Unit). All signals confirm, the metaverse is about to become the new playground and expression of the fashion and luxury industry. And the reverse is probably true.

Leave a Comment