Looks like we’ll all be heading to work meetings in the metaverse soon, or at least Bill Gates thinks so. And whether it’s for work or play, if you’re concerned about what to wear in the digital realm, don’t worry! Fashion designers are on it.
The metaverse is a collection of virtual platforms that allow users to design their own avatars, buy “land,” and play games. The prices of digital real estate have set new records over the past few weeks, and digital architecture firms are charging up to $300,000 for virtual designs. The business potential for an entirely new virtual world is not lost on fashion brands, which are looking for a new consumer base to tap into.
Although the numbers aren’t as high as real estate, some pricey virtual clothing purchases have already happened. A digital Gucci bag (yes, a bag you cannot physically hold) sold for $4,115 in May, which is more than the price of its physical counterpart, according to NME.
And there are a flurry of brands dipping their toes into the metaverse through virtual fashion shows and NFT collections, some focusing on accessibility with cheaper products, and others releasing limited supplies for higher prices. Burberry created a series of NFTs for the video game Blankos Block Party, which sold for a total of $400,000, Bloomberg reported. Vans created “Vans World” on the Roblox platform, where users can “skateboard” wearing a customized pair of virtual shoes in exchange for Robux, the Roblox currency.
“This represents a massive opportunity for fashion brands to extend their online presence and reach huge, truly global diverse and engaged audiences,” a Roblox spokesperson told Fortune.
Here’s a look into how some of the biggest players are shaping the fashion metaverse:
Ralph Lauren launched a virtual fashion line to dress people’s digital avatars, in partnership with the metaverse platform Roblox.
“Winter Escape,” a virtual experience from the brand, offers virtual ice skating and hot chocolate, and releases new virtual fashion items every Monday, from hats to backpacks, the brand says, with items selling for $3 and under. So far, Winter Escape has hosted more than 1.7 million visitors.
The brand also launched a virtual fashion line of 50 items on Zepeto, Asia’s most popular metaverse space, in August.
For four characters in the video game Fortnite, Balenciaga designed outfits, also known as “skins” in the game world, which players can pay for using the Fortnite currency “V-Bucks,” according to Bloomberg. The fashion brand announced the move in September.
“Self-expression is one of the things that makes Fortnite so unique, and there couldn’t be a better first fashion partner than Balenciaga to bring their authentic designs and trendsetting culture to millions of players around the world,” Epic Games president Adam Sussman said in a post announcing the Balenciaga and Fortnite collaboration.
Nike has launched Nikeland, a virtual gaming experience on the platform Roblox. In Nikeland, users can dress their digital avatars in the company’s products from a virtual showroom and wear their gear even outside Nikeland bounds, in other parts of the platform. Upon entry, users receive a free virtual hat and backpack. If they win games, players can collect “medals” and “ribbons” to purchase Nike products.
YouTubers Justin Kroma and Adam McArthur, on their “LankyBox” channel, released a video featuring their experience gaming in Nikeland and documenting their purchase of the digital version of Nike’s Mercurial Superfly 8 shoes using medals from winning games on the platform.
More than 7 million users have visited Nikeland since it opened on Nov. 18.
Sam Poser, an equity analyst, said the platform is a way for the company to attract a younger generation of consumers, and a space for the brand to test out new products. “If they know a bunch of kids are wearing it on Nikeland, then they will then come out with it in the physical world,” Poser told CNBC.
Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana sold the first-ever collection of NFTs by a fashion brand for about $5.7 million in September on the marketplace UNXD, according to the New York Times, including one-of-a-kind tailored jackets and a pair of dresses, with both physical and digital versions, worth more than $500,000 each. Five of the digital NFTs were accompanied by a physical version of the item, and the other four were solely digital creations, according to Dolce & Gabbana’s tweet from Sept. 19. One of the digital designs, the Impossible Tiara, sold for 99.9 ETH, or about $379,040, never to be physically worn. It was, however, sold along with experiences like a private tour of the designers’ atelier in Milan. Another, the Velvet Impossible Jacket, sold for about 107 ETH, or roughly $406,700.
The Doge Crown, featuring both a digital version and a physical piece made with diamonds and blue sapphires, sold for 423.5 ETH, the equivalent at the time of about $1.3 million, according to CoinDesk. Unique experiences were also paired with the products, including admission to one year of Dolce & Gabbana fashion shows for those who purchased digital NFTs, and two years for those who purchased a physical design, according to Vogue.
Adidas entered into a partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club, an NFT collection, and purchased one of its NFTs to turn into a metaverse character, according to Decrypt.
The company has also revealed that it’s teaming up with Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, and the Sandbox, but any further details on their metaverse plans are currently under wraps, Decrypt reports.
Meta (formerly known as Facebook) replied to Adidas’s tweet announcing its fashion plans for the metaverse on Dec. 2.
“We can’t wait to see Adidas in the metaverse,” Facebook wrote.
Gucci is now selling a virtual fashion collection on Zepeto, where users can also interact with one another while shopping for new items, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But this isn’t Gucci’s first step into the metaverse. Even before its avatar fashion line, Gucci released some items on Roblox with the support of game development designers in 2020. Gucci also launched a virtual installation on Roblox, where visitors could walk through themed rooms and purchase exclusive and limited-edition digital Gucci items.
“While fashion and art may feel out of reach, the metaverse is bringing them closer and making them more accessible for millions of people, building on Gucci’s quest to empower individuals and expanding self-expression to new virtual territories,” the brand said in a Roblox post.
Fortune’s upcoming Brainstorm Design conference is going to dive into how businesses are building experiences in the metaverse. Apply to attend the event on May 23-24 in New York.