The digital universe is not a new concept, and although the fashion industry quickly took an interest in it, the presence of sector players in the digital world has grown at a breakneck pace in recent years. In summary, 2022 will have been the year of digital integration and activations in the metaverse.
A new report from Fashionbi identifies the different ways brands are using this virtual space and the different strategies they use to continue to deliver new experiences to their customers.
Through this report, FashionUnited has highlighted the most popular methods brands are using to enter the metaverse and why they prefer these strategies in today’s economic environment.
The NFT Craze
A non-fungible token (NFT), such as a cryptocurrency, exists in the blockchain ecosystem, but it remains unique and can contain additional information. Owning an NFT, which can be an artifact, software or a virtual good such as a fashion item, gives the holder exclusive ownership of that asset. It is this element that has made NFTs so popular in the luxury industry as they provide a unique experience to their buying experience.
While brands that have invested in NFTs can thus generate a new source of income, buyers also enjoy many additional benefits of owning this new generation of artwork, such as the ability to integrate it into games online and unlock exclusive experiences.
Fashionbi’s report lists the best-selling NFTs to date, many of which have been sold at auction and then resold through a dedicated marketplace. Dolce & Gabbana topped the list with ‘The Doge Crown’. The artwork, which was originally auctioned, sold for more than $1.2 million. Among other major sellers, Gucci’s Supergucci collection sold for $83,000 and Givenchy’s NFTs in partnership with Chito $13,000.
Popular game platforms and virtual worlds
The virtual world offers users many advantages: games, network, new experiences… Games such as Fortnite or Zepeto have already attracted a large number of brands who want to start digital merchandising and explore the possibilities of online games. retail spaces or the launch of other digital assets.
While Animal Crossing (Nintendo) was a hit with gamers and retailers alike during the pandemic, Roblox stands out mainly for partnering with brands such as Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger and, more recently, Clarks. Virtual platform Decentraland also made a name for itself in the fashion industry with the launch of the first Metaverse Fashion Week last March. During this digital event, brands and retailers such as DKNY, Selfridges and Etro launched the metaverse for the first time.
Investing in metaverses
Acquisitions and investments in digital companies have also played an important role in the development of brand activations in the metaverse. For example, Nike acquired virtual sneaker company Rtfkt in December 2021 after launching its virtual experience on the Roblox platform, which has since had nearly seven million visitors. Diesel has also taken over digital platforms by launching its own virtual platform D:verse in March 2022. The site allows visitors to purchase unique NFT versions of the brand’s clothing, as well as physical pieces.
French luxury group LVMH invests heavily in startups and digital companies as part of its annual innovation award, presented at the Viva Technology conference. This year’s edition of the award includes a selection of 21 young startups, ranging from 3D product experience to metaverse companies to omnichannel and retail specialists.
Virtual fashion shows
Starting in the year 2020, when the world faced incarceration, many brands turned to the virtual world to continue to showcase their collections and maintain a connection with their customers. The GCDS brand led the way by presenting a virtual fashion show. Shortly thereafter, the Museum of Other Realities (MOR), a virtual arts center, presented The Fabric of Reality, an immersive experience produced by RYOT. Now virtual reality (VR) fashion shows have become more common, with shows run through the Second Life platform, run by Jonathan Simkhai, and Crypto Fashion Week, which has launched numerous NFT drops and hosted panel discussions, expert in the digital world.
As brands increasingly invest in the digital space, physical fashion shows are also starting to integrate the metaverse into their collections. For the Spring-Summer 2022 season, Paris Fashion Week has integrated NFTs into its offerings, which are provided to accredited guests, giving them access to exclusive content and augmented reality experiences. In particular, during London Fashion Week in February 2022, Roksanda showcased the latest silhouette from her collection as a limited-edition NFT that shoppers could virtually try on.
The virtual store: an experience
In addition to virtual runways and digital artwork, many brands have also tested new online shopping experiences. Often located in the aforementioned virtual hubs, these new retail locations allow players to view, purchase and attract branded products through their personal avatars, bringing a brand’s products to life in the digital world. Selfridges was one of the first to adopt this strategy, launching its own augmented reality department store on the Decentraland platform. Modeled after the Birmingham store, this immersive experience hosted several art exhibitions and various events, with the collaboration of brands such as Paco Rabanne.
This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.com. It was translated into French and edited by Maxime Der Nahabédian.