How To Bring Virtual Fashion Into The Mainstream
The fashion industry is always seeking new ways to innovate, which makes it no surprise that the sector has well and truly began to explore the burgeoning metaverse space. We’ve seen high-profile luxury brands like Tiffany & Co, Gucci, Guerlain, DKNY, Burberry and Philipp Plein all enter, as well as a proliferation of digital fashion projects or previously unknown fashion designers becoming huge successes on metaverse platforms. However, virtual fashion has yet to completely filter into mainstream usage yet. So, what steps need to be taken to make this happen?
More fashion projects or brands capitalizing on their followings on major social media platforms can help propel virtual fashion forward, as opposed to simply relying on Web3 favorites Discord or Telegram.
Instagram is facilitating this through its Digital Collectibles feature, opening its platform up to NFTs, and thus moving people closer to digital fashion wearables. Creators and collectors can now share images of their NFTs on Instagram by associating their crypto wallets, as well as tagging the associated creators and owners too. For labels and creators, this new feature provides far more education and monetization opportunities, by helping to make NFTs appear less daunting to the masses. However, educating users about Web3 also needs to continue on other platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Instagram’s new feature is also in line with Meta’s ongoing effort to integrate the metaverse into its platforms, notably with the announcement of Meta’s new avatar store selling digital fashion DressX, Balenciaga, and Prada now feature on the marketplace. Meanwhile, Snapchat has already integrated digital fashion through AR, and in July enabled users to begin testing NFT art filters.
As more users understand the concept of digital wearables through the most popular social media channels, people will begin to realize that building an identity in the metaverse is just as important as it is offline.
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most important promotional tools needed for virtual fashion to truly take off. Arguably, marketing matters considerably more in the metaverse than it does in the traditional fashion landscape. For example, in real life, you may compete with 30 stores on a street, but in these digital universes, you may well be competing with hundreds of thousands of creators at any one time, making the competition extremely fierce.
Word-of-mouth marketing in Web3 could take the form of gamers talking via in-game chats, users recommending items via Tik Tok, Discord, Twitter or YouTube, or projects and labels working with influencers to co-sign products and increase reach.
We’ve seen a recent boom in the number of partnerships between fashion and gaming, as the former begins to consider innovative ways to expand its spheres of influence, appealing to brand new audiences not previously catered to. It makes sense: the number of gamers worldwide is expected to reach more than three billion by the end of 2022 — that’s just over a third of the world’s population.
As metaverse platforms become increasingly popular, interest in virtual fashion has soared, as people seek to carve out their digital identities. For example, one in five Roblox games currently updates their avatars daily, making it clear that there is a significant opportunity for fashion labels and projects to get involved in Web3 gaming. How? Projects or established brands can monetize digital assets either as in-game wearables or as NFTs.
As CEO and founder of Fashion League, which will be the first female-centered fashion RPG on the blockchain, this is something we have factored into our gameplay. Players can build and expand their own fashion empire and become virtual 3D fashion designers while selling, trading or transferring assets across the metaverse. Fashion brands will also have the opportunity to collaborate directly with the Fashion League community creating products according to the best product-market-fit, and display their items too.
Giving NFTs Greater Utility
Fashion projects and labels making use of utility NFTs could help broaden their reach. We’ve already seen Paris Fashion Week implement this last summer, with guests receiving utility NFTs that gave them exclusive access to reality presentations. Or take Prada’s ongoing Timecapsule collection, where collectors receive both a gender-neutral physical item as well as a gifted NFT, which also makes them eligible to participate in exclusive activities This has previously included an invitation to a Prada fashion show, a private tour of Fondazione Prada, as well as Michelin star dining experience complete with five-star accommodation.
As Web3 matures, it is highly likely that virtual fashion will be in high demand. The challenge right now is to improve interoperability and make the transition into the world of NFTs and metaverse much more seamless for the average consumer.