The fashion business altered dramatically in the year 2020. Not only was it responsible for an overnight drop in sales, but it also utterly shattered the traditional fashion calendar. Due to the epidemic, there were many unusual changes within the business, such as events being pushed back months or altogether canceled.
The fashion sector, which is never far from the forefront of technological innovation, is presently making significant movements in the metaverse realm.
Fashion week was formerly the occasion attended by all fashion designers, editors, models, photographers, reporters, and celebrities. The fashion week concept has expanded from physical runway displays to phygital ones.
Is The Phygital World The New ‘Goldilocks’ Of The Fashion Industry?
The term “phygital” is derived from the words physical and digital, as COVID-19 and social distancing brought forward new laws and restrictions that led to the creation of a new digital fashion era. Now that we are in the post-pandemic age, you must be wondering why we need such approaches.
Driving Digital Traffic
Despite the fact that virtual shows and videos lack the physical attractiveness that the notion of fashion shows offers, they have the ability to generate lasting digital impressions and drive traffic.
As a result, nearly all fashion weeks, including the forthcoming London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week, have mostly embraced this new-normal and safer method of showing collections.
Presenting to a Wider Audience
Previously, these elite fashion weeks were only available to the industry’s big names. However, today, individuals from all over the world may be a part of it thanks to this new physical and digital hybrid.
This has not only helped businesses access fresh, younger audiences, but it has also helped them connect more effectively with their social media followers and supporters.
Moreover, there is the issue of the environment. It’s no secret that the fashion industry has been trending toward a more sustainable future for some time. Unfortunately, real-life shows broadcast from all over the world provided a direct impediment to the development of an environmentally conscious company.
On the basis of surveys conducted by Ordre, 25% of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are contributed by the buyers and designers who attend these fashion weeks annually. Therefore, the phygital era has taken a novel step towards hybrid fashion weeks, which have been supported by sustainability advocates.
Phygital Fashion Weeks- The New Normal?
The fashion industry has started to build itself again, but this time not just physically, but digitally too.
The Metaverse has slowly become a big platform for social and commercial activities, which makes fashion’s involvement with the same a must. The internet has developed from Web2, which is defined by user-generated content and sharing, to Web3, which is determined by the Metaverse and its encryptions. In contrast, fashion has gradually come to embrace virtual technology.
Phygital Fashion Weeks deliver an immersive shopping experience where buying virtual apparel in the respective field also sees a physical twin dispatched for your actual wardrobe, made possible by exclusive innovation that translates 2D product design photos into 3D experiences.
Metaverse Fashion Week
Hosted by Decentraland, the first ever Metaverse Fashion Week started on March 24th, 2022, featuring luxury brands, household names, and digital-native designers.
Built on the Ethereum Blockchain, the host of MVFW- Decentraland started as a pixelated 2D grid before evolving to the 3D universe it is today.
The magnificent event not only served as a pivotal event in the world of fashion, but it was also a foundation for the conception of the Metaverse and everything it would become in the near future.
Various brands made their debut on this platform via the MVFW, namely; Tommy and Dolce&Gabbana, Charles and Keith, DKNY, and many more.
Users had the opportunity to buy digital native as well as phygital items. Physical items could then be claimed after purchasing the Boson Protocol NFT voucher, followed by visiting the Portal website and following the instructions to claim authentic life clothing.
New York Fashion Week
Undoubtedly one of the most significant trends to emerge from New York Fashion Week in September 2022 was designers resorting to virtual reality and other internet channels to help unveil their newest collections. The NYFW was organized by Nolcha Shows, a Web3 developer with an award-winning track. It was held at the World Trade Centre and allowed novices to experience the elite world of fashion.
Participants had the freedom to experience innovative technology which incorporated fashion in the Metaverse, virtual avatars, AR, and digital wearables.
Significant brands like Puma and Tommy Hilfiger have chosen to exhibit their works on digital and physical runways.
Paris Fashion Week
BNV brought the Paris Fashion Week to life with the K-Pop group Lightsum. A new partnership between BNV, Weinsanto, and Lightsum represented another step into the realm of Web3 for the high-end fashion industry.
Eight virtual looks, called the M3talove Collection, were created in-house at BNV utilizing digital 3D tailoring processes.
Fans could access these designs when they were released as Ethereum NFTs that were sold on BNV’s website. BNV also hosted an actual life event to bridge the physical fashion experience to the rapidly expanding digital world.
These NFTs would have digital and physical advantages attached to them. At the event, attendees can mint a free Proof Of Attendance Protocol NFT, which works like a virtual ticket stub.
Major Brands That Have Turned To The Metaverse Fashion World
Black Station, the German sportswear brand’s first metaverse experience, was revealed during the NYFW. This digital project includes unique NFTs encompassing redeemable physical shoes as part of its FUTROGRADE exhibition. The comprehensive and dynamic website allows customers to plunge into PUMA’s futuristic approach and participate in web3 activities. This unique website has been created by FTR and is built on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5.
On visiting the website, users may pick between a hyper-realistic digital lobby with three separate portals to experience unparalleled footwear. For example, the brand debuted two new limited edition sneakers- the Nitro NFRNO and Nitro Fatroid, which are linked to the NFT Nitropass. Nitropass can be minted by customers in order to get NFTs related to tangible things that can be claimed once the event has ended.
Customers who purchase these Nitropasses have access to two NFTs, one of which is connected to a redeemable tangible product and the other to an experience related to the mainly chosen footwear.
Gucci had officially entered the metaverse realm by launching their own “Gucci Town” on the popular gaming platform- Roblox. This Roblox-hosted permanent location can be described as a dynamic place where users can explore the director’s vision, express themselves via virtual apparel, and connect with like-minded people.
Users visiting Gucci Town may
- Take a walk from the Centre Piazza.
- Go to MiniGame heights, which has a gaming area for Gucci-inspired competitions.
- Visit Powerup Place, a unique cafe where users can gather and communicate.
- Go to the Creative Corner, where users can create their own art pieces with a variety of colors, patterns and forms.
- See the rare exhibits housed in the virtual Vault Plaza. This space showcases some of Gucci’s latest products and collaborations.
- To indulge in the high-end fashionable pieces, visit the Gucci Shop, where users can purchase digital Gucci items.
Nike’s direct-to-avatar sales have been taking over the Metaverse by the strategic release of RTFKT Cryptokicks and other branded items in the Nikeland Roblox Metaverse.
Nikeland attracted about 7 million people to the brand’s micro Metaverse built-in Roblox. This platform permits users to try on products virtually and play games such as dodgeball. On the Nikeland court, famous basketball player- LeBron engaged with players and coached them. This rewarded the users with the ability to unlock virtual products.
The brand’s acquisition of RTFKT, a sneaker designer, led to the creation of an NFT collection. According to RTFKT, owners of virtual shoes will be able to complete online tasks to evolve the skins of their kicks and increase their value.
Tommy Hilfiger announced its venture into the metaverse fashion week that was hosted by Decentraland, during which the brand showcased its Spring 2022 collections and hosted a digital retail platform where users could purchase NFTs for their avatars or buy physical items from the Metaverse itself.
This virtual experience was conducted in partnership with Boson Protocol, the commerce settlement layer for web3, which enables the seamless exchange of digital assets for physical products.
Tommy Hilfiger has also collaborated with Roblox as they launched the Tommy x Roblox Creators line, which was created by eight digital fashion designers. In addition to this, the brand also has a Roblox world called Tommy Play which offers both stores as well as games. The Tommy Hilfiger stores enable you to purchase the brand’s designs for your avatars.
Burberry announced a collaboration with Mythical Games to create the Blankos Block Party game, an open-world multiplayer metaverse fashion video game using NFT vinyl toys that reside on a blockchain.
The limited-edition Burberry Blanko Sharky B NFT, adorned with Burberry’s TB summer monogram, may be purchased, improved, and sold, as can in-game NFT accessories such as a jetpack, armbands, and pool shoes.
Blankos Block Party has built a new play-to-earn economy by stepping into the Metaverse with these playable NFTs, opening the path for a future of digital ownership in gaming.
Burberry also launched its first virtual bag collection for Roblox. Buyers receive an NFT, which will work as a virtual certificate of ownership that runs on blockchain technology. With this proof of credibility, the user can exhibit a dress or accessory on VRChat, where numerous users connect daily via their self-curated avatars and exhibit their outfits.
Balenciaga debuted in the Metaverse by launching its clothing line in the famous Fortnite video game. Fortnite x Balenciaga was the game’s first high-end partnership, including both digital and physical elements. The game accomplished virtual fashion by using skins and costumes that mimicked the original Balenciaga retail range.
Fortnite has also included a new room in creative mode for a virtual Balenciaga store where players can purchase new costumes. There, the real-life billboard pictures will be constantly updated with user-generated content, resulting in what the Fortnite team describes as a “live lookbook.”
Numerous brands, elite and basic, have stepped into the Metaverse with their own productions or tie-ups and embraced innovation instead of steering clear of it. Using the Metaverse helps these brands attract a younger audience, ultimately their next generation of customers. Incorporating this platform into their marketing strategy has kept the fashion industry alive since the world adapted itself to virtual fashion during the pandemic.
The Metaverse provides a new channel for brands to interact with a younger audience and establish long-term loyalty. It gives immediate gratification in a new format for customers.
What other couture fashions will follow this line, and can we see brands making their own metaverse platforms? This is yet to be seen but rest assured, we can foresee more and more fashion brands tying up with studios to bring forth fashion into the Metaverse and changing the face of the platforms by engaging audiences in a competition to have the best fits.