The second annual Metaverse Fashion Week event, set in Decentraland’s Luxury District, featured more than 60 brands, from iconic names like DKNY to smaller web3-native upstarts like DressX. While attendance went down, sales went up, and alarm bells signalling the start of the digital fashion era went off. Randy Ginsburg explores what the future of fashion holds and how we can expect to get there.
A product of Decentraland and UNXD, a curated luxury fashion NFT marketplace, Metaverse Fashion Week 2023 brought together a plethora of luxury fashion houses, digital-native brands, and early adopters to celebrate the latest innovations in the industry.
Under the theme ‘Future Heritage’, the event set in Decentraland’s Luxury District featured more than 60 brands, from iconic names like Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Gucci, to smaller web3-native upstarts like DressX, the Fabricant, and altr. Similar to the previous year, the occasion blended digital runways, panel discussions with prominent industry experts and designers, and lively afterparties — all in the metaverse.
Whether this year’s event was a success can be left to interpretation. Relative to last year, attendance was disappointing. Attendance from brands was relatively unchanged, down from 70 to 63, but it was the broader audience that disappointed most, falling by more than half compared to last year’s event. Event attendees dropped from 108,000 users in 2022 to less than 50,000 a year later. And like MVFW ‘22, many attendees reported constant false starts, video streaming issues, and an overall poor user experience.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Even with over a 50% drop in attendance, Decentraland saw a 200% increase in Decentraland NFT sales volume, mainly with existing holders doubling down on their previous investment, indicating that consumers still see value in metaverse fashion assets. Indeed, the presence of many of the world’s leading luxury brands makes Metaverse Fashion Week a prominent indicator of how fashion sees more promise than ever in the digital realm.
As expected, AI was the hot topic, and most brands brought their own perspective on the technology. In collaboration with DressX, Tommy Hilfiger hosted an AI fashion challenge encouraging designers to use text-to-image AI tools to design garments with Hilfiger branding. The winning garment was turned into a wearable Decentraland NFT. DressX also created two AI-generated Tommy Hilfiger wearables for visitors to claim for free.
Meanwhile, designed by web3 fashion company Exclusible and VR studio Polycount, BOSS unveiled an AI-created immersive virtual showroom in the Spatial metaverse platform, a Decentraland alternative. Serving as an extension of their Spring/Summer 2023 Miami Fashion Show, the showroom let visitors shop five distinct looks from BOSS, the product of Hugo Boss’ split in early 2022. The gamified shopping experience offered attendees a virtual activation with a free digital blue BOSS suit that they could wear on their personal Ready Player Me avatars.
And this seems to be only the beginning for artificial intelligence and fashion. The first AI Fashion Week is set to launch in Decentraland later this month.
Interoperability is digital fashion’s grand pipe dream. The ability to port blockchain-based wearables across virtual words. While the common standards required to seamlessly port digital assets across all virtual spaces is largely a work in progress, we saw a few organisations inch towards this goal. Ready Player Me avatars, which can represent you visually across over 6,000 platforms, is one example.
Leaning into the power of its community, adidas hosted a runway show and a shared space for holders of its 2022 Virtual Gear collection, where early supporters were rewarded with a wearable 3D twin of their Virtual Gear NFT garments. In addition to dressing their virtual avatars, users could also select PFP outfit collections, via a PFP dressing tool powered by Decentraland’s Linked Wearables feature.
Additionally, adidas gifted 5,000 Decentraland wearable editions of its Wallrunner jacket in an exclusive blood orange colourway to visitors. Erika Wykes-Sneyd, VP of adidas’ Three Stripes Studio, the German brand’s web3 studio, emphasised the importance of understanding what customers really want to get out of digital fashion and interoperable fashion during a recent interview.
Tommy Hilfiger also launched its own “interoperable” collection, integrating with Ready Player Me to allow users to wear their digital garments across virtual worlds from mainstream names like Roblox to web3 platforms like, The Sandbox, and Spatial.
For both household luxury brands and budding web3-native fashion houses, one thing was abundantly clear. Digital garments are meant to be expressive, imaginative, and transcend the boundaries of reality. The flashier, the better.
While people want their clothes, clothes play a different role when they’re digital. You’re never cold, and it never needs to rain. Meanwhile, designers are not bound by physics, nor by the process of production. There is just one key constant from physical fashion: people want to be themselves. In a discussion with Ready Player Me’s Head of Strategic Partnerships Stan Georgiev, he shared that over two-thirds of his company’s users create avatars that resemble their real-life features, and those who do, spend over two times more customising them.
Digital garments are meant to transcend the boundaries of reality.
To play into this trend, RPM will soon launch a variety of body types, along with the ability for users to customise each individual part of their outfit, separating footwear from bottoms and tops.
Ultimately, the team envisions a future where independent designers can make a living selling their digital garments to avatar owners, ultimately opening up the fashion industry to a swathe of digital designers who lacked the connections and capital to break into traditional fashion.
Brands like Coach, DKNY, and Clarks featured their own immersive storefronts, allowing users to play games, connect with their communities on social media, and buy both physical and digital garments.
The presence of many of the world’s leading luxury brands shows the promise of digital fashion.
To facilitate these ecommerce transactions, Boson Protocol introduced a new Metaverse Commerce Toolkit designed to help brands and retailers adapt physical assets for Decentraland’s metaverse. This toolkit streamlines the setup process for businesses and is compatible with the platform’s display and editor tools.
While MVFW ‘23 showed undeniable signs of progress, there is a long way to go until digital fashion breaks into the mainstream. However, the underlying motives behind digital fashion are stronger than ever. People want to express themselves digitally the same way they do physically, and this trend has been around for decades across platforms like the Sims and Club Penguin, and more recently with Fortnite and Bitmoji.
Today, it remains more marketing opportunity than revenue stream, but the brands active in the space today will learn lessons that pay dividends in the future of fashion. And given the brands in attendance during Metaverse Fashion Week, that future is certainly digital.
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