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Metaverse - The immersive virtual environment redefining the fashion world

Fashion's endeavor in the metaverse implies a new journey for consumer engagement. It could signify creativity and design elevation, and a new way to interact with fashion. While it is vague how the digital universe will evolve, the opportunities it presents for designers, brands, retailers, and consumers are tremendous.
24 June, 2022
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George Gottl, CCO and Founder of UXUS

As we move toward the metaverse, opportunities are arising for brands, particularly in the gaming world. People can express themselves through their avatars buying clothes from luxury brands and experimenting with their image and personality. Opportunities are abundant for brands to promote products to virtual communi-ties from IRL to URL or for digital-based brands to develop something new and vibrant which can be translated into the physical world.The metaverse will reshape and present new ways for brands to market and sell products. You could invest in a pair of sneakers in the metaverse and then receive a discount to purchase in real life, creating cross-pollination for brands both physi-cally and physically-digitally. Fashion houses and retailers need to consider how all this translates into the physical. There must be synergy between the two.I don't believe the supply chain will be directly impacted, but it will certainly enhance customer journeys and personalization. Brands are still trying to navi-gate this world. If we can use the metaverse to inform customer personalization further, we can create a powerful bond between consumer and retailer, driving long-term investment.

Lara Asero, Founder Vintage Large Boutique

The metaverse could be a "new place" where smaller retailers and brands can be present and relevant. The challenges might be related to technology and the competencies required for the sellers: the risk mainly regarding not understanding the real potential of this new world or needing some extra professional support specific to this new technology. This must be considered concerning the business budget, as the results are o!en not well-defined or not immediately tangible.I can see the paradox that some of the dynamics of physical reality overwhelm-ingly repurpose in the virtual world. People may search for better quality and tend to less compulsive buying, which could be a great boost for the slow fashion and vintage market. This can be an opportunity and a challenge. Understanding sizes, wearability, and the value of a great vintage piece with its characteristics could lead to an improved customer experience, helped by metaverse tricks like avatars and the "virtual try-on" to guarantee a reliable result in this new dimension. Also, the metaverse could help to facilitate a multisensorial, tailor-made, customer-centric experience, compensating for and supporting the actual retail dimension.

Renata Depauli, CEO Herrenausstatter

Our real-life and virtual identities will merge more and more, with an increasing share of time spent in one of the emerging metaverses. It’s possible there won’t be a single, digital-only version of us, but many versions – and we simply choose the right one each day, depending on our mood, task, or duty.It’s highly likely that there will always be “the one”: The identity which looks the same whether in real life or digital. It’s just so much handier when it comes to bringing both worlds together. There, we’ll want to dress our avatar to match our cool IRL outfit. So, “physical” fashion (where customers get a physical and a digital version of their latest fashion purchases) will become a standard expected by consumers.In real life, we will see a shi! in consumer habits, with more selective purchases of physical fashion, a focus on sustainability, and a new austerity, where “less is more.” At the same time, we’ll be able to experience all our glamorous fashion dreams via digital versions of ourselves.

Paul Marciano, Chief Creative Director Guess.

I am still a big fan of the real world and being in touch with our customers in everyday life. Of course, we are evaluating this trend, and testing a few projects to get familiar with this new world. I am sure this is something new generations are very interested in, which will change the way we understand fashion.The metaverse will have a big impact on the behavior of the young generation of consumers: they can now interact virtually with any piece of clothing, but, on the other hand, I think this won’t be for all types of consumers, and we need to keep a 360° approach to reach all categories of consumers. The metaverse could have huge potential for the fashion world. We o!en work with 3D images and virtual reality to support our sales teams, especially since the pandemic. These tools are fundamental to being able to sell the collections at a distance. We are also accelerating the design of our product with 3D technology, which will enable us to speed up the process of internal line reviews and product presentations.

David Karstad, Vice President Polartec

From a consumer perspective, I think the metaverse will be as transformative for fashion as the color photograph. It has the potential to redefine how we can imagine ourselves while being able to refine this in real time. Of course, this also impacts how we make our fashion. The 3D design ultimately enables more efficient patternmaking, style selection, color choice, and even fit testing. This means fewer remnants, reduced waste, and more accurate production runs. Like e-commerce to retail, meta fashion production will be just another part of how apparel gets made.

Sebastian Warschow, CCO Haebmau

The metaverse is a risk-free shortcut to playfully experiment with new concepts and reach out to a new community that may become a new customer base. Further, the metaverse has the potential to make fashion retail more flexible and sustainable, as it is more efficient to design and distribute fashion digitally. This can be a shi! in how fashion will be consumed and a revolution of the company's internal processes to be more beneficial and sustainable.In the metaverse, the user's avatar is freed from physical reality. The user can live their individuality to the fullest, and personal boundaries are shi!ed through this. Digital clothing can be, for example, worn via AR or collected and exchanged as NFTs.Technical innovations can extend our shopping experience in-store through mobile AR apps, e.g., for a contactless fitting of the product. Combining micro-fulfillment technologies and quick commerce can then be used to deliver the purchase directly to the customer's home, making shopping much more accommodating.

Sebastian Manes, Executive Buying Director Selfridges.

Web3 is still relatively new to us, and we are learning every day. At Selfridges, we are eager to drive more knowledge and share it with the world. It is important for us always to do great projects which bring something new to the table, something beautiful.In the case of our “Universe” project in partnership with Paco Rabanne and Fondation Vasarely, we were able to create something unique that no one has access to, and it is a real privilege to be able to bring back to the world such amazing, innovative creations in both art and couture for the benefit of NFTs. The metaverse offers a new environment for experience and connection, where we will continue to experiment and explore.

Ahmet Mercan, CEO Alphatauri

Virtual fashion has the potential to attract the younger generation and GenZ. This may be another opportunity to drive much-needed change in the fashion industry and a great collaboration hook for interdisciplinary cooperation. At the same time, there is a new consumer need: to exist in the virtual world, you need to create your persona and express your personality in the virtual domain. And here, fashion can play a significant role. For years, we have seen a change in consumer behavior. There is less room for compromise and the customer wants it all. Now, in this virtual world, the physical requirements and boundaries are not there anymore, which opens up new opportunities, and the trend will speed up. Fashion needs to be more than clothing. At AlphaTauri, we follow a “physical world first” approach, meaning we are always trying to merge digital with physical. Innovation is the accelerator for these synergies.

Daniel Grieder, CEO Hugo Boss

The metaverse is clearly THE topic of the future. It is a completely new space for brands, where the physical and the virtual worlds merge. We have already taken a step in this direction, through our TikTok challenge and the NFTs around BOSS X Russell Athletic. New business models and revenue streams will emerge, and there are great opportuni- ties, which we will also tap into at HUGO BOSS. Of course, many things are not fully defined yet, and there are, for example, legal challenges that need to be addressed. But it is an exciting journey that we should embrace as an industry. Today, we know that digital fashion alone will not be enough: consumers expect more experiences. The meaning of fashion will change. Consumers desire to express their true selves, and personal expression is even more important to GenZ. People will have their avatars, a for sure, and a digital wardrobe for different occasions. Digital fashion will therefore be a natural extension of the wardrobe as we know it today. This will, consequently, further increase the importance of digital sales channels for companies.

Leslie Holden, Co-Founder The Digital Fashion Group

The metaverse has not begun. Buyer beware. Web3 should/could facilitate a platform for designers to create and sell assets independently without constraints or restrictions. An opportunity to build new revenue streams, new business models, new global collaborations, unfettered by any cultural restrictions. NFTs could potentially reshape the way we understand value. A different way to understand luxury and value. It's also a space where creating a copy of something only serves to reaffirm the value of the original. It goes against the fundamental idea that luxury's main value exists in possessing something others don't have. The metaverse will also change the ways we relax, meet, work, buy, and sell; the ways we co-exist in society. AR glasses will replace the mobile phone as our main way of interacting with digital content. That's the moment when the lines between the real and the virtual will blur. While shopping in a store, you won't be able to see the prices if you don't have your smart glasses on. Our screen time will effectively increase from 50% a day to 90%. Welcome to the metaverse!

Marco Lanowy, Managing Director Alberto

Reflecting on the development of the shopping experience, it all began with traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, followed by self-service options, and, subsequently, online shopping. Now we have arrived in the era of the metaverse as a 360-degree experience that goes far beyond merely walking through spaces. The metaverse is emotionalizing the online shopping sphere through an immersive effect that makes the illusionary environment and product feel real. The sense of space and time becomes unreal. Thanks to it, we will no longer shop on flat screens but will bring the three-dimensional shopping experience home via VR. Hence, in my eyes, the metaverse is the creation of a new, adventurous world that breaks apart obsolete models of consumption and has the capability to present new offerings that meet the changing requirements and needs of consumers.

Michaela Larosse, Head of Content The Fabricant

As a decentralized digital fashion house, our focus has always been on utilizing tech to create a fashion industry suitable for the 21st century and beyond. That means building a blockchain-powered digital fashion ecosystem that creates a more collaborative and sustainable fashion world, where everyone can profit from their creative participation. This is why we launched our co-creation platform, The Fabricant Studio. Consumers will have a larger digital wardrobe than their physical one. The way we express ourselves through digital fashion will be key to how we represent our identity in the virtual realm. We will have multiple personas curated for the experiences we're participating in. Because of the lack of physical boundaries, people tend to a choose a wilder fashion expression for themselves in the digital environment. Being a digital fashion house, we never interact with the physical fashion supply chain, but clearly, the use of blockchain can positively influence its operations. As a digital ledger where all crypto wallet transactions are visible to all parties and unable to be changed once validated, it lends itself to greater financial transparency and the tracking of goods.

This article originally appeared in WeAr magazine's June 2022 issue

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