In the last 20 years, we have seen technology evolve and become an essential tool in how we live. From the evolution of iPhones to smart TVs to self-driving cars, it’s almost like we are living in an episode of The Jetson’s episode. However, there is a new player in the tech world. The metaverse. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen this word quite a lot. Large companies like Microsoft and Meta, previously known as Facebook, have announced their transition into incorporating the metaverse on their platforms. It seems almost everyone is trying to hop on the wave. However, one industry that really seems interested in incorporating it into their world is fashion. Fashion innovation has always been at the forefront of the fashion industry’s goals.
What is the Metaverse?
For those who are not familiar with the metaverse, the Oxford dictionary defines it as “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users”. To keep it short it’s a virtual 3D world. On the other hand, there isn’t a specific way to explain what the metaverse is, because it’s still being created. Early forms of the metaverse that we were introduced to would be games like Sims, Roblox, Fortnite, and IMVU. Users could chat with each other, customize their outfits and homes, and create entire virtual worlds. However, virtual reality and augmented reality may have been the first form we were introduced to on a larger scale. When it comes to this new reality there is more to it than just games.
To be clear, the metaverse is not a device or a new app. If anything, think of it as a transition for the tech world, similar to the emergence of the internet. Yet, unlike the internet, the metaverse is able to host hundreds and soon thousands of servers at a time. Even if in theory the idea of it may seem fairly easy, it’s a bit more complex. The metaverse has a role in almost everything, even money. In the games mentioned above you can already buy and sell products for your avatars through platforms like Patreon, and more. But those products are only accessible in your games; you cannot use them anywhere else.
Yet, with the function of the metaverse what if we told you that may be possible? With the creation of NFT’s ( non-fungible tokens) and cryptocurrencies such as ethereum (ETH) and bitcoins, it allows people to buy, sell and trade securely. Also, there is no limit on withdrawals or transferring money and it’s not associated with the bank or government.
So you’re probably wondering now, how is this connected in any way to fashion?
How Covid Might have played A Role in combining the Worlds
In the last two years, many of us have witnessed the results of living through a global pandemic. At times the transition was not the easiest. Nevertheless, we still found ways to make it work and still are creating new methods every day to advance. However, one market that still seems to be recovering from that impact is fashion.
With society trying to find new ways to connect, a lot of what we knew as normal was gone.
Due to COVID guidelines, many people stopped shopping in person and switched to online; forcing businesses to close. Countless designers and fashion houses had to halt production due to a lack of workers, while others no longer had the funds to proceed. Fashion houses had no real ways to promote their pieces without it being physical. Even with fashion week taking place at the beginning of the pandemic, designers either canceled shows, streamed them online, or took the risk and carried on. All in all, this left designers and brands stuck with the question: what now?
How the Metaverse is keeping Fashion Innovative
What makes fashion so unique is the driving force of innovation behind the industry. Not all brands fell, some advanced, and had sales boost more than ever before. Other brands such as Hanifa, completely changed up the runway game as we know it.
Back in May 2020, Hanifa debuted her latest collection on Instagram live. Most designers had taken to social media in order to just promote and make their brands stay relevant. Yet, what she did took the fashion world by storm. Her newest collection was being worn by 3D models. Before then, no one had ever seen or done anything like it.
So take a moment to think: if 3D runway shows can take place? What other possibilities could the metaverse provide for fashion? Well, this is an ongoing conversation, because even though many big brands want to be a part of the metaverse universe, it’s not as simple as they think.
What lies Ahead
Besides Hanifa, we have seen some brands experiment a little. Egon Lab and Crocs came together to make an NFT croc. Allegedly, Ralph Lauren has something in the works. Gucci did a collab with Roblox and Balenciaga had a collaboration with Fortnite. Louis Vuitton launched their own game, where users play a character named Vivienne who can travel from world to world collecting items and NFTS all the while wearing Louis Vuitton clothes. In terms of other brands, you may have seen filters being used on Tik Tok or Instagram where users can wear the clothes that the filter provides. The issue that a lot of the brands are struggling with is how to make this marketable for their typical consumers? If you can only use and see these clothes with the help of your phone or specific glasses with an AR filter, what is the actual point of it?
As for now, most brands just seem to take the gaming approach. While others use social media as a way to show off their NFTS. In theory, this may not make any sense at all but as past events (such as COVID) have proven anything, it’s that technology has been that bridge for keeping everyone connected to one another. So for now maybe the interest and appeal of the metaverse in fashion isn’t as popular, but young designers and quite a few big brands are seeing how they can profit off of this. For designers, the pull of the metaverse is the fact that you can create literally anything, unlike the real world where design options are limited. It also seems to be a more eco-friendly route than the regular production of clothes. As time goes on, it will be interesting to see how these worlds continue to combine.