On March 24th, the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week kicked off on Decentraland. It brought four days of runway shows, shopping, event venues, after parties, immersive virtual stores by brands such as Dolce & Gabbana or Tommy Hilfiger and panel talks organised by Boson Protocol and CashLabs.
Decentraland, powered by the Ethereum blockchain, provided a decentralised, 3D virtual world and a free and open space for everyone (with a decent computer), allowing 108,000 unique attendees to join the MVFW.
Its success comes as no surprise, with Morgan Stanley’s estimates predicting that the Metaverse and fashion NFTs will generate revenues of €50 billion by 2030, constituting 10% of the luxury goods market.
Metaverse Commerce context
Justin Banon, the co-founder of Boson Protocol, opened the introductory panel by stating that “Metaverse commerce is not 3d e-commerce”, referring in parallel to the evolution the Internet is currently undergoing, transcending from the already mature Web2, into the (still in development) Web3. For those unfamiliar with Web3, it is considered a new iteration of the World Wide Web, based on concepts such as decentralisation and blockchain technology, which serves as a toolbox for building the Open Metaverse.
Web2, and therefore e-commerce too, rely on centralised intermediaries, where the information is kept siloed. Boson Protocol tokenizes transactions and writes them to public infrastructure, thus decentralising commerce. Incorporating attributes such as gamification, tradability and programmability, the technology at Boson Protocol aims to bridge the physical and the digital world. This is enabled with NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), one of Web3’s core innovations.
NFTs with Superpowers
Boson Protocol utilises technology to re-invigorate the physical space using NFTs to unlock additional benefits. Some practical examples are exclusive access to new products and experiences (only accessible for certain NFT holders) or digi-physical purchases (driven, for example, through a Metaverse treasure hunt that unlocks a limited edition physical product).
The whole idea behind NFTs with Superpowers is to give them value to hold rather than trade. Until now, NFTs have been considered assets to buy and sell in marketplaces, achieving value throughout these transactions. By adding utility to NFTs, the possibilities are infinite. They can be used to drive brands’ missions forward, like in the case of ASICS. Joe Pace, Head of Business Development, hinted the brand’s roadmap includes utilising NFTs to promote a healthy lifestyle. On top of that, holding a Non-Fungible Token from a specific brand can confer community membership. This loyalty can be later recognised and rewarded with exclusive benefits, adding trustlessness and extra flexibility to legacy loyalty or membership schemes.
Shopping in the Metaverse
This panel brought together pioneering companies such as IKKS and Cider that, aware of the potential the Metaverse provides, decided to become part of it and explore its possibilities at an early stage. Since every imaginable thing is possible in the Metaverse, it offers unlimited space for such labels to provide unique brand experiences to their consumers.
One of the most exciting opportunities for fashion companies is the alteration of the product design cycle. On the Metaverse, brands can sell their digital products before they are even physically produced, allowing testing of their reception amongst their public. The Metaverse also enables brands to connect with unexplored target groups and consumers, through a new distribution channel.
On the other hand, the current premature stage of the Metaverse is acting as a blocker for companies that haven’t yet taken the plunge. Its requirement for the latest technology and acquisition of Web3 seems to intimidate company managers and decision-makers, who may not even be Web2 natives. There are also legal and financial challenges to face, since blockchain and DeFi (Decentralized Finance) are vital elements. Selling in the Metaverse implies being familiarised with new crypto-currencies. Furthermore, moral questions are being posed: to what extent is it good for society to invest higher parts of their time in building and engaging with a world that is not even real, especially since our physical one is already flawed?
A new economy for brands
In alignment with the previous panel, this session brought together members of Yahoo, BoF (Business of Fashion) and Publicis Media to discuss the implications of brand adoption in the Metaverse. Technology layers empower physical personas and digital ones to co-exist, consequently allowing us to spend more time as our digital selves. Combining the technology the space provides with brands’ storytelling results in immersive and more impactful experiences for consumers.
It is also essential to recognise the difference between closed Metaverses and an open one. In an article on the Open Metaverse, Outlier Ventures establishes a distinction between open and closed by whether they have a closed economy (within or across their proprietary games) or whether they allow transferability of value outside their ecosystem. Furthermore, OV outlines that an Open Metaverse offers the security of an online identity with which users can feel protected and accumulate value. “Sovereignty and, by consequence, self custody of what the user owns are core principles to Web 3.”
The importance of strong communities was also outlined during this session. Allowing users to transcend from individuals to groups with shared interests will eventually offer a space for co-creation. Users will provide feedback simultaneously as the brands offer content. The strong involvement of the public will require new acquisition and retention strategies. Strategists, creatives and developers will become the most valuable roles for brands that aim to thrive in the Metaverse.
Digital to Physical
Everything we own will eventually have a digital shadow in the future, the same way individuals do now, thanks to social media. This premise guided this panel of the MVFW.
One of the speakers was Olga Chernysheva, Chief Sustainability Officer at DRESSX. They have developed a Metacloset, a digital wardrobe to store NFT wearables combined with a marketplace where to trade them. One of the most significant impacts of the technology noted during the session was in terms of sustainability. The implication of owning a digital asset for each physical object will eventually promote a slower, more valuable cycle, consequently guiding the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction.
This innovation aims to be bi-directional; purchasing a physical wearable entitles the owner to its digital representation. But, buying a fashion NFT also makes its owner eligible to redeem the equivalent item physically. The latter promotes on-demand production, less fast fashion, mass production and physical waste.
In this frame of reality, your NFT collection, and therefore your wallet (where to store these NFTs), becomes your identification.
At Skytale we have developed a multi-chain DeFi and NFT tracker. By simply introducing your wallet’s public address, all your assets get aggregated into one view. The contents of your wallet will determine and customise your world on the Metaverse, so, never before has it been so essential to recognise and keep track of what you own. If you’re already part of the Metaverse, or are interested in joining it soon, be sure to check out Skytale and play around with our platform.
And if you are interested in listening to the panel talks referred to above, they can be found on https://mvfw.bosonportal.io/62159655df6de966a86892bc/Boson-Forum.