Metaverse Fashion Week attracts big brands, startups

Brands like Forever 21, DKNY and Estée Lauder have joined the first Metaverse Fashion Week, which started on Thursday and runs until Sunday in the virtual world called Decentraland.

Digital-only fashion shows have been held in the past, but the four-day event is one of the highest-profile efforts to bring big brands together around or within the concept of the metaverse, a virtual world in which people can interact, work and shop.

Luxury fashion brands and smaller startups are using the virtual event to host fashion shows and open stores in Decentraland, selling both physical, real-world deliverable items and digital goods accompanied by non-fungible tokens, the digital assets known as NFT.

“It sends a signal that virtual fashion is here to stay and virtual fashion will continue to become something of interest for brands,” said Cathy Hackl, president of Metaverse Fashion Week and chief metaverse officer of Futures Intelligence Group, a consulting firm. .

The concept of the metaverse and the companies that tried to build it have attracted millions of dollars in funding, senior executives, and a lot of curiosity over the past year, particularly since Facebook’s parent company has committed to spending a lot to build the metaverse and changed its name to Meta Platforms Inc.

Robert Iger, former CEO of Walt Disney co.

recently joined the board of Genies Inc., a startup that offers tools for creating virtual characters, clothing and accessories supported by NFT.

Marketers have explored the potential of Decentraland and other virtual world platforms such as Sandbox.

For Metaverse Fashion Week, Estée Lauder is giving away 10,000 NFT-supported digital wearables that she believes will give avatars a glowing aura.

“When people discover Estée Lauder in the metaverse, it is a gateway for them to interact with Estée Lauder online and in the physical world,” said Stéphane de La Faverie, Estée Lauder global president and group president of Estée Lauder Cos.

Forever 21’s virtual store includes digital avatars to guide visitors through the store and 10 purchasable NFTs.


Photo:

Authentic Brands Group Inc.

Forever 21 of Authentic Brands Group Inc. has rented the equivalent of 450,000 square feet of space in the Decentraland fashion district to open a virtual store with digital avatars acting as vendors and 10 NFTs for sale. Those NFTs offer avatar outfits to wear or collect.

“We have embraced the growth of the Metaverse as it continues to clash with culture,” said Winnie Park, CEO of the fashion retailer.

Cider Holding Ltd., a clothing retailer, sells NFTs through its digital store.

Metaverse Fashion Week is an opportunity to offer consumers a new kind of experience with the company and potentially build relationships with them, said Yu Oppel, co-founder of Cider.

“Anything you do in the metaverse can too [lead to] a new membership of the brand, “said Ms Oppel.

Some event attendees don’t sell physical items at all.

Digital fashion firm NFT XRCouture PVT Ltd., whose website invites people to “wear clothes that don’t exist,” sold 18 NFT-supported virtual dresses ahead of Metaverse Fashion Week and is opening a “headquarters” in Decentraland.

The opportunity to release digital wearables alongside well-known luxury brands has generally not been available during traditional fashion weeks in the physical world, said Subham Jain, founder and director of XR Couture.

“Not only are luxury brands highlighted, but individual creators as well,” Jain said.

Metaverse Fashion Week is hosted by the Decentraland Foundation, the non-profit organization that creates tools for the platform and manages its marketing.

Companies are using the event in part to understand how a potential new wave of customers will want to shop in digital environments, said Andrew Kiguel, CEO and founder of Tokens.com and executive president of Metaverse Group, a metaverse developer who is by renting Decentraland uses its land during the event.

“This is the next way the internet will be used and in two, three years, no one will talk about the metaverse – it will just be part of your daily life,” said Kiguel.

Decentraland has around 562,000 monthly active users as of February, according to the company.

There is a possibility that Metaverse Fashion Week could also occur on other virtual platforms, said Giovanna Casimiro, head of Metaverse Fashion Week and head of community and events at the Decentraland Foundation.

“Our desire is not to centralize, but to collaborate with other initiatives in one big event and adapt as we go,” said Ms Casimiro.

Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at ann-marie.alcantara@wsj.com

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