Why Fashion Is Entering The Metaverse
This feature is in the March/April Next Wave Issue. Click here to subscribe.
With the rise of “metacommerce,” immersive shopping experiences and creative experimentation are also rising to meet new ways to engage their socially distanced audiences.
Prior to the pandemic, virtual environments were present and incorporated in smaller performances or blended with retail experiences for singular purposes. What separates those works from the larger conversation of the metaverse can be found within the participatory nature of the communities that engage with digital experiences, virtual environments and the meta-commentaries that follow. The metaverse allows for richer, more immersive brand storytelling and creative experimentation of artistic mediums—fashion presents a challenge and greater opportunity to form new identity primitives, leaving audiences with limitless states of being.
Adidas x Prada Re-Nylon collection, released in January PHOTO COURTESY OF ADIDAS ORIGINALS
Over the past six months, we’ve seen several NFT projects surface attempting to unify prestige, scarcity and luxury to crypto-native audiences and the crypto-curious. Brands are developing their own innovative infrastructure to craft the future of living in a digital world. Balenciaga and Dimension built an immersive VR adventure to present its fall 2021 collection Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. January’s collaboration between Prada and Adidas invited their shared community to own and contribute to the creation of “re-source,” an NFT marking greater implications of access and bridging between audience and luxury brands from top-down to a collective relationship.
McQ, a brand that revived itself with the blockchain as its center point, announced in January its inaugural NFT collection with the fashion NFT platform THE DEMATERIALISED. The collaboration will include an ultra-exclusive one-of-one physical McQ hoodie with an embedded NFC chip, allowing the product to be registered via the brand’s own blockchain. The same month, Mercedez-Benz, in collaboration with Art2People, announced the NF-G Challenge as a celebration of its signature G-Class model via NiftyGateway. Five artists were tasked to interpret the iconic G-Wagon in their own style crossing music, fashion, architecture and luxury design. Antoni Tudisco, a 3D artist, partnered his character Ethee to pose in this interdisciplinary series.
When looking at the entire landscape of fashion’s inclusion into crypto mainstream, our “IRL” identities are becoming more intertwined through upscale physical products akin to Fendi’s luxury accessory for Ledger hardware wallet owners. The arms race to covet the rarest digital identifiers in the form of profile picture projects (Bored Ape Yacht Club, Crypto Covens, CryptoPunks, etc.) inadvertently aids in the positive reception and sales volume of these luxury products in both the physical and digital spaces.
The metaverse is expected to be worth $800 billion by 2024 with web3 platforms serving as extensions or foundations to company business models, massively adding to the revenue-generating activities of these luxury leaders. As the space continues to saturate with ideas, the impetus for fashion to innovate and pioneer new territories in the digital world gives way to immersive e-commerce experiences and utility unlocking a framework for multidimensional expression.