Brands like Forever 21, DKNY and Estée Lauder joined the first Metaverse Fashion Week, which kicked off on Thursday and runs through Sunday in the virtual world called Decentraland.
There have been digital-only fashion shows in the past, but the four-day event is one of the most high-profile efforts to bring big brands together around, or within, the concept of the metaverse, a virtual world where 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 physical items that can be delivered in the real world and digital goods accompanied by non-fungible tokens, the assets known as NFTs.
“It sends a signal that virtual fashion is here to stay and will continue to become something of interest to brands,” said Cathy Hackl, president of Metaverse Fashion Week and director of Metaverse at Futures Intelligence Group, a consultancy.
The concept of the metaverse and the companies trying to build it have attracted millions of dollars in funding, high-powered executives, and a lot of curiosity over the last year, particularly since Facebook’s parent company committed to spending big on building the metaverse and changed its name to metaplatforms inc.
Robert Iger, former CEO of Walt Disney Co., recently joined the board of directors of Genies Inc., a startup that offers tools for creating NFT-backed virtual characters, clothing and accessories.
Marketers have been exploring the potential of Decentraland and other virtual world platforms like Sandbox.
For Metaverse Fashion Week, Estée Lauder is giving away 10,000 NFT-backed digital wearables that it says will give avatars a sparkling aura.
“When people discover Estée Lauder in the metaverse, it is a gateway to interact with Estée Lauder online and in the physical world,” said Stéphane de La Faverie, global president of Estée Lauder and group president of Estée Lauder Cos.
Forever 21 of Authentic Brands Group LLC has leased the equivalent of 450,000 square feet of space in the Decentraland fashion district to open a virtual store with digital avatars acting as sales associates and 10 NFTs for sale. Those NFTs offer outfits for avatars to wear or collect.
“We have embraced the growth of the Metaverse as it continues to clash with culture,” said Winnie Park, chief executive of the fashion retailer.
Cider Holding Ltd., a clothing retailer, sells NFTs through its digital store.
Metaverse Fashion Week is an opportunity to give consumers a new type 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 also [lead to] a new membership with the brand,” Ms. Oppel said.
Some event participants do not sell physical items at all.
Digital fashion company NFT XRCouture PVT Ltd., whose website urges people to “Wear clothes that don’t exist,” sold 18 NFT-backed virtual outfits ahead of Metaverse Fashion Week and is opening a “headquarters” in Decentraland.
The opportunity to launch digital wearables alongside well-known luxury brands isn’t often available during traditional fashion weeks in the physical world, said Subham Jain, founder and director of XR Couture.
“Not only luxury brands are highlighted, but also individual creators,” Jain said.
Metaverse Fashion Week is organized by the Decentraland Foundation, the non-profit organization that creates tools for the platform and handles its marketing.
Companies are using the event in part to figure out how a potential new wave of customers will want to shop in digital environments, said Andrew Kiguel, CEO and founder of Tokens.com and CEO of the Metaverse Group, a metaverse developer that is enabling Decentraland. will use their land during the event.
“This is the next way the internet is going to be used, and in two or three years, no one will be talking about the metaverse, it will just be part of their everyday life,” Kiguel said.
Decentraland has around 562,000 monthly active users as of February, according to the company.
There is a possibility that Metaverse Fashion Week will happen on other virtual platforms as well, said Giovanna Casimiro, director of Metaverse Fashion Week and director of community and events for the Decentraland Foundation.
“Our desire is not to centralize, but to collaborate with other initiatives in a big event and adjust as we go,” said Ms. Casimiro.