Would you purchase a digital dress? Roksanda, a famous online clothing store in the UK, posed this question during the launch of their exclusive NFT series at London Fashion Week. They displayed the real dress during the finale of Roksanda’s Autumn Winter 22 catwalk show. The NFT costs around £5000, and this creation marks Roksanda’s entry into the metaverse fashion, capitalizing on a rapidly growing market. Fashion brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Nike have recently invested in virtual advertisements and exhibitions to connect with their audiences in novel and sustainable ways.

In the metaverse, people express themselves in numerous ways than on social media or in real life. Even digital-only fashion brands with basically no physical presence caught massive attention. People are looking to present their avatars in a chic, intense way by wearing NFTs designed by world-class luxury houses like Balenciaga and Valentino.

But how is the fashion industry expected to thrive in the metaverse? Read ahead to find out.

What is Metaverse Fashion?

Metaverse fashion refers to various garments and apparel in the virtual form. The most established type of metaverse or digital fashion got popularized in games. Game makers often make money by offering skins to players. This purchase does not give the players additional power or lives in the game, but it’s a way of seeking attention from fellow players and competitors.

Luxury fashion brands stepped into the metaverse to get established in the virtual game space. For instance, Balenciaga released their Autumn collection 2021 as an immersive online video game, Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. They also partnered with Fortnite to create costumes that will appear in the game and stores. Louis Vuitton collaborated with the game ‘League of Legends’ to produce branded skin covers for its characters. Gucci has created digital assets for Roblox, Pokémon Go, and Animal Crossing gaming platforms.

Ralph Lauren also entered the digital fashion realm partnered with South Korean social network and avatar simulation app Zepeto to create a virtual fashion collection, allowing users to dress their avatars in exclusive products or appearance-altering “skins.”

Fashion With Wearable NFTs and AR

Some of us know the pain of not being able to try on clothes properly, especially when the pandemic prevents us from going to physical stores. Digital fashion solves this for the most part by enabling virtual try-on features using Augmented Reality.

For example, Lenskart, an eyewear company, has been enabling AR-based eyeglass try-on features for years. Pinterest has come up with an instant makeup try-on feature. If you like the lipstick shade on a Pinterest image, just click on the AI camera to try it on yourself.

Fashion NFTs and tokenized outfits, accessories, textiles, and other wearable NFTs exist in virtual worlds, especially in games.

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An example of a brand that has adapted quite well to virtual fashion is DressX. It is an open platform for buyers and advanced and style brands to explore virtual worlds. The organization sells virtual apparel and additionally offers an entire range of administrations. The platform digitizes actual designs or makes computerized garments.

Another layer (utility) is created to form NFTs (A non-fungible token or a unit of unique data stored on the blockchain system that can be traded and sold), allowing customers to wear those in augmented reality through their application.

NFTs For Fashion Producers

Non-fungible tokens, NFTs, can allow brands to judge their potential popularity while giving the consumer a digital good as a reward for pre-ordering.

NFTs will actively utilize the features only blockchain technology can offer, such as blockchain’s unforgeability and proof-of-origin properties of NFTs, while producing and distributing the branded product. Through them, customers can secure the identity of their product, which can be customized and used through various online-metaverse channels and on-chain data. Thus, NFTs serve as certificates of authenticity for digital purchases.

Metaverse Fashion aka Cool Clothes For Your Avatars

The fashion sector’s potential in the metaverse was clear when the gamers started to enhance their user experience by investing their time and money in purchasing new skins to show themselves in the metaverse. In light of these advancements, many fashion brands tried to explore their ability to personalize wearables in a digital ecosystem. This sequentially allowed digital clothing to be displayed in metaverse marketplaces, and unique avatars were born across various platforms such as Decentraland and Cryptovoxels.

 Digital fashion is often discussed in tandem with the metaverse as a sci-fi concept. But now, play-to-earn is becoming a wear-to-earn situation, and not only that, dressing your avatar becomes as important as your real-life outfits. Now it’s no more imagination; you could buy a brand-new outfit at the touch of a button or attend an entirely virtual fashion event and feel like you are there. It is now the reality. No more wonder the metaverse is said to be ‘the future of the internet and fashion brands can reinvent themselves in this new world.

How Will The Fashion Industry Thrive In The Metaverse?

During the pandemic, people relied on technology to stay connected to the outside world. As online sales hit a record, retailers tapped into virtual worlds to compete and offer their customers a different shopping experience. Below are the ways the fashion industry advanced to establish the metaverse trend:

Social Shopping for Metaverse Fashion

Live Streaming and AR helped boost seamless metaverse shopping experiences from discovery to checkout. For example, clothing giant H&M announced that it would build 3-D shopping venues in the metaverse.

Circular Textiles

Circular textiles are using sustainable technology to design products to limit the excessive use of raw materials and decrease textile waste. Advanced technology like metaverse can help in large-scale design needs for circular fashion. The textile company Positive Fibres has started to venture into the metaverse to uphold its circular and sustainability goals in digital fashion.

Augmented Reality

AR fashion introduced new revenue streams for designers and fashion consumers. It overpowers the traditional fashion industry as it is time-saving and convenient. Regardless of size or disability, anyone can try on clothes and accessories from their homes. With the use of output devices such as VR goggles, the power of AR combined with the features of a metaverse environment is even more enhanced. Some brands that use AR for an immersive customer experience include Burberry, ASOS, Lacoste, and Timberland.

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3D Visualization

3D renderings of garments in global virtual platforms have been on the rise as it enables to engage its team simultaneously and complete the process in one go. Brands have been venturing into tech products more than ever. The best example would be Elite World Group and Tommy Hilfiger, who collaborated on virtual space ventures, including metaverse fashion festivals.

How Good Is The Metaverse For Fashion Industry

The intriguing part of digital fashion is its potential. When it comes to innovation, the possibilities are infinite. What’s more exciting and encouraging is that nothing about it is completely set in stone. So, the creators do not need to follow any specific trend or revise cultural values or behavioral patterns. They can be wild, own their fashion statement, and set the sky as their limit. But what makes people invest real money in digital fashion assets?

Cost Reduction

The utilization of resources to manufacture a single clothing item is very steep compared to virtual wearables. In contrast, virtual apparels require a minimum amount of material inputs and are focused more on the design aspects. Regardless, it generates the same or even a higher income.

Body and Gender-Fluid Approach

Wearable NFT fit is not grounded by the body, gender, or ability. This couture is designed to be non-discriminative. Championing inclusivity, these wearables are a well-illustration of sexual freedom and body positivity.

Business Opportunities in Metaverse Fashion

Fashion NFTs open the portal to large communities of collectors and metaverse users. Brands can substantially increase their customer base and reach out to younger admirers once they establish their presence in the Web3.0 world. Besides this, business owners can also sell sketches of collections as NFTs or embed royalty on their product, creating an additional stream of income both from the initial sale and royalties.

The metaverse Decentraland was built on Ethereum and started as a pixelated 2D grid before evolving into a 3D universe. Today, digital fashion weeks are conducted on the platform on plots knowns as LAND and are sold as NFTs. Major brands participating in metaverse fashion shows include Hugo Boss, Balenciaga, Burberry, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Waste Reduction

New virtual designs can minimize the samples produced for merchandisers and promotional purposes. These styles can be easily cloned and can be tailored to models (both virtual and physical), celebrities, and influencers. On the customer end, improvements in AR can help buyers visualize and virtually experience the quality of products before they’re even manufactured. This ultimately resulted in the massive reduction of carbon footprint and crafted a move towards sustainability.

Future of Metaverse Fashion

It would be difficult to predict the future of fashion in the metaverse, but one clear thing is the blurring lines between the physical and virtual fashion. The metaverse is predicted to present more than a $50 billion opportunity for the luxury fashion industry over the next decade, including a $22.6 billion market for luxury NFTs. Digital clothing makes the fashion industry more accessible for sellers and buyers while tackling the urgent need for sustainability.

As users spend more time online and the hype around the metaverse will continue to cascade into virtual goods and NFTs, fashion brands will unlock new ways of engaging the new customer requirements. To capture untapped value, players should explore the potential of NFTs and virtual fashion — all of which offer fresh routes to creativity, community-building, and commerce.

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Rahul A R

Rahul A R is a technologist and full stack developer who specializes...

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