The metaverse is a new world where users interact, play, and dress their avatars - opening up opportunities for designers and brands to meet the rising demand for digital fashion. According to Morgan Stanley, the metaverse could generate $50 billion in sales for fashion and luxury by 2030. However, to unlock this potential, brands must understand what fashion in the metaverse is and how it impacts the industry.
The metaverse allows users to create virtual wardrobes and express individuality. It helps fashion labels increase customer exposure and experiment with designs. The metaverse is changing the fashion industry by allowing brands to reach new audiences, inspire fashion trends, and access a new channel for marketing products. The platform benefits fashion houses and designers by enabling interaction with 3D-rendered products, building sustainable manufacturing cycles, and generating long-term value for clothes minted as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
What is the metaverse in fashion?
The evolution of the Internet from Web2 to Web3 focuses on connecting people, places, and things in a fully digital and 3D environment through the metaverse, where individuals represent themselves as virtual avatars to interact with each other. The potential for fashion in the metaverse comes in two forms; a combination of physical and digital and entirely virtual.
Physical and digital: In the metaverse, the physical and digital concept for fashion allows clothing to be tried through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). This can be an excellent way for brands and designers to use the platform to showcase their product lines and market their offerings by attracting attention to real-world fashion goods produced, increasing sales and reducing returns.
Virtual: Alternatively, metaverse platforms like Roblox, Decentraland, and The Sandbox also have massive in-game economies where revenue can be generated by selling avatars skins, footwear, accessories, and more. Users dress up their avatars with virtual clothing to express their individuality and choose clothes representing their status. These digital wearables can also be resold or swapped with other avatars.
Designers and brands entering the metaverse must learn to use the space to converge the real with the unreal, where creativity driven by technology can lead to creating new designs and revenue streams.
How is the metaverse being used in fashion?
Build virtual wardrobes
In-game skins and wearables are estimated to be a market worth $40 billion, as reported by GQ. Communities in the metaverse are spending their digital currencies in the virtual world to build wardrobes of digital clothes that can be bought, sold, or traded. For instance, Louis Vuitton (LV) joined forces with Riot Games to release an in-game fashion collection and skins for League of Legends players - where a virtual LV leather jacket could cost around $5k for an avatar.
Express individuality and identity
The metaverse offers avatar customization, allowing individuals to express themselves through virtual clothes. A Metaverse Fashion Trends Report published by Roblox in 2022 revealed that 47% of Gen Z said dressing their avatars was a way to express their individuality, with 43% saying it made them feel good about themselves. To capitalize on this phenomenon, Meta launched an avatar store where users could pick from a range of digital attire designed by brands like Prada and Balenciaga.
Showcase the work of fashion designers
The metaverse levels the playing field for renowned and aspiring designers who can easily create and showcase their work with computer access and software like Clo3D or MarvelousDesigner. Designers like Carolina Herrera and Karlie Kloss already use the metaverse to develop a digital portfolio of their products. Several metaverse creators use the platform's low barriers to design fashion products; Roblox reported that the number of creators designing clothes and accessories in the metaverse is 200 times more than those creating physical designs.
Experiment with fashion
The metaverse unlocks innovation and creativity for designers and brands, giving them a space to create products that defy the rules of the real world. This freedom of expression can allow for experimentation with designs that could lead to the creation of physical fashion products in the future that wouldn’t otherwise exist. For instance, a London-based designer Scarlett Yang created a virtual garment that looked like glass and changed its texture under different weather conditions, which she eventually launched as a physical dress.
How is the metaverse changing the fashion industry?
Reach new audiences
The metaverse creates a channel for fashion brands to reach younger audiences that wouldn’t have engaged with them otherwise. GenZ is a crucial target market for fashion brands as they will soon be a large consumer group making up approximately 40% of the global luxury market by 2035, as stated by WARC. To engage with a younger demographic, Gucci launched an activation on Roblox called ‘Gucci Garden’ that attracted a whopping 20 million visitors.
Inspire new trends and styles
Brands and designers can push the limits of creativity in the metaverse, setting new standards for fashion in the real world by evolving existing aesthetics or bringing fantasy to physical clothing. For instance, a new product launch by Miu Miu based on the viral skirt used for gaming avatars increased sales by 56% in the first quarter of 2022, as reported by Vogue Business. Forever 21 also launched a product line in the real world based on feedback and customer responses to virtual products sold on Roblox.
Promote inclusivity and diversity in fashion
Metaverse fashion allows users to customize their avatars through digital wearables that express their individuality without social stigma, making the space inclusive and diverse. Virtual influencers in the metaverse are also becoming prominent figures in bringing diversity to the fashion industry. For example, James-Wilson, founder of The Diigitals, created a Brenn, a plus-size virtual model to combat false beauty standards and to set a new narrative for fashion in the metaverse and beyond.
Marketing in the metaverse builds awareness, drives engagement, and unlocks new revenue streams for fashion brands and designers. Fashion labels are raising brand awareness in new markets by launching skins for avatars. Balenciaga partnered with Fortnite to give one of its digital characters a branded hoodie, which also aimed at generating buzz to drive sales of its physical replica in stores. Lacoste also launched a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called 'Undw3' in the metaverse to increase customer engagement and generate revenue. NFT owners could access exclusive products and have a say in future brand designs.
Why is the metaverse good for fashion?
Allow interactions with 3D virtual fashion collections: Brands and designers can build virtual showrooms and stores to allow customers to interact with 3D renderings of any fashion garment. They can also try on clothing to improve their purchase decisions rather than solely relying on 2D photographs of products. Virtual fashion shows in the metaverse, like Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week, also allow consumers to view fashion apparel on 3D models before buying a product.
Leverage collaborations: Partnering with metaverse platforms and creators can help brands innovate and amplify their reach. For instance, Benoit Pagotto, founder of RTFKT, a digital fashion brand, collaborated with FEWOCiOus, a digital creator in the metaverse, to create and sell over 600 pairs of virtual shows, generating $3.1 million of sales in under 5 minutes.
Build an environmentally conscious fashion industry: The fashion industry can use the metaverse to reduce its environmental impact by leveraging the platform to execute steps before manufacturing designs. For instance, the metaverse can be used for modeling, sampling, and marketing items before producing them physically. Using the platform to design and test samples can reduce a brand’s carbon footprint by 30%, as reported by Cointelegraph.
Generate long-term value with NFTs: Physical fashion in the real world often lacks substantial resale value; however, the in the metaverse, fashion pieces created as NFTs can be traded on virtual marketplaces generating value for the product over a long period.
The metaverse possesses endless possibilities for fashion designers, brands, and consumers. While virtual fashion in the metaverse is still developing, there are several opportunities to experiment with these platforms to showcase fashion designs, create innovative fashion lines and build sustainable practices. The platform allows users to express their individuality through digital fashion and build elaborate virtual wardrobes. The metaverse also enables fashion brands to reach new audiences, inspire trends, promote inclusivity, and engage in creative marketing strategies. The crossover of fashion and technology with the metaverse benefits designers and brands by facilitating interactions with 3D virtual fashion collections, leveraging collaborations, and generating long-term value through NFTs. Keeping pace with this evolving space and testing strategies that work will be crucial for brands and designers that want to garner success in the long run.
Are you a fashion brand or designer looking to capitalize on the metaverse’s digital fashion capabilities? We can help you build, scale, and monetize your fashion label in the metaverse. Get in touch with us!
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