Interesting Fact: In 2021, Gucci teamed up with one of the most renowned gaming platforms Roblox, to showcase Gucci hats, sunglasses and handbags in avatar. This initiative allowed fashion enthusiasts to buy collectibles and rare Gucci accessories.
Another interesting fact; Dior collaborated with Meitu, a well-acknowledged Photoshop application for pictures and selfies, to create an AI makeup feature that matches makeup based on user characteristics.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as a myriad of fashion brands have been venturing into the Metaverse leveraging digital fashion trends and offering consumers limitless possibilities of self-expression. But as complex as digital fashion is, a whole lot of questions come to mind: What is really digital fashion? And what’s the Metaverse?
Digital Fashion 101
It seems like such an easy term to define, yet beneath it lie countless possibilities and multifaceted descriptions. Let’s make it simple for you: digital fashion is virtual 3D clothing, designed with both humans and digital avatars. In other words, instead of using real-life fabrics, digital garments are created through 3D computer programs. Why is it gaining popularity over the last couple of years, might you ask? Simply put, it’s inexpensive, sustainable and has no creative constraints. In the digital world, you could be whoever you want to be…interesting, right? In fact, what’s even more interesting, is that according to Morgan Stanley, the digital fashion market alone could be worth $50 billion by 2030.
Digital fashion uses technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality to encourage users to express themselves with complete freedom, limitless imagination and infinite production. As the world becomes more and more digitized, brands are experimenting with the digital world, hence creating immersive experiences for users, and offering them the chance to be whoever they wish to be in this virtual reality they’ve created.
For apparel retailers, digital fashion is expected to be a significant revenue driver, as brands invest millions of dollars in opening virtual metaverse stores that allow customers to shop through on-site eCommerce collections with NFTs.
Now why is it so important? Digital Fashion caters to Gen Z’s need to express their own identity through fashion, providing them with a digital identity and ownership with the unique ability to go all out in terms of creativity.
But Then What’s the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is quite a complex and ambiguous term that we’ve all struggled to define and understand, as it is still evolving and developing functions till this very day. But one thing we can definitely say about it, is that it’s a shared and immersive 3D virtual space where humans experience life in ways they cannot in the physical world. It’s a place that unlocks doors to limitless possibilities and where freedom is a bit too stimulating. In fact, 23% of people would actually spend a lot of money on collectible clothes and accessories in the Metaverse.
Digital Fashion was thus built to be integrated in the Metaverse. Take influencers for example; with the recurring problem of “how many outfits can one really own”, the Metaverse offers them a place where they can invent even more looks, instead of wearing clothes just once and discarding them afterwards. Here, we tap into the eco-friendly side of the Metaverse, and the growing need to create an industry that is more sustainable and mindful when it comes to fast fashion and consuming clothes.
And so, virtual fashion can either be reflected onto an avatar or worn using Augmented Reality. For instance, social media platforms have also been adopting digital fashion, such as Snapchat’s Avatar lens that shows you what you’ll look like in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse is, by all means, part of the evolution of how users experience the internet; it raises the question of “what if” and offers countless possibilities in return. It hence goes without saying that retailers and brands who arm themselves with VR tools, are more likely to succeed as they offer users immersive experiences such as Virtual Try-On. The ability for one to virtually try on products makes the process that much more fulfilling and – bonus to the environment – saves time and effort through reduced logistics and resource costs.
The Future of Fashion
There’s a growing concern that virtual stores in the metaverse will replace traditional shopping and retail channels. The fact is, these two worlds complement each other as we become more and more digitized. It goes without saying that clothes are meant to be worn…in real life. Having the freedom to wear and be whatever you want in the virtual world is just another bonus, especially with the wide shift to sustainable fashion.
The future of retail is an exciting world to look forward to as the online industry seems like a natural evolution. As people devote a big chunk of their lives to the online space, the Metaverse is the perfect opportunity for them to dabble and experiment with a new channel that will eventually better prepare them to offer the best experience to future consumers. Perhaps the future of the fashion industry is not a black and white matter…perhaps it’s a playground where different worlds collide to create a little something called “Mixed Reality”.