Brands including Forever 21, DKNY and
have joined in the first Metaverse Fashion Week, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday in the virtual world called Decentraland.
Digital-only fashion shows have taken place in the past, but the four-day event is one of the highest-profile efforts to gather big brands around—or inside—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 both physical items deliverable in the real world and digital goods accompanied by non-fungible tokens, the digital assets known as NFTs.
“It sends a signal that virtual fashion is here to stay and virtual fashion will continue to become something that is of interest for brands,” said
chair of Metaverse Fashion Week and chief metaverse officer at Futures Intelligence Group, a consultancy.
The metaverse concept and companies trying to build it have attracted millions of dollars in funding, high-powered executives and plenty of curiosity in the past year, particularly since the parent company of
pledged to spend heavily on building the metaverse and changed its name to
Meta Platforms Inc.
formerly chief executive of
Walt Disney Co.
, recently joined the board of Genies Inc., a startup that offers tools for making virtual characters, clothing and accessories backed by NFTs.
Marketers have been exploring the potential of Decentraland and other virtual-world platforms such as the Sandbox.
For Metaverse Fashion Week, Estée Lauder is giving away 10,000 NFT-backed digital wearables that it says will give avatars a glowing aura.
“When people discover Estée Lauder in the metaverse, it’s a gateway for them to engage 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.
Authentic Brands Group Inc.’s Forever 21 has rented the equivalent of 450,000 square feet of space in Decentraland’s 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 collide with culture,” said Winnie Park, chief executive at the fashion retailer.
Cider Holding Ltd., an apparel retailer, is selling NFTs via its digital shop.
Metaverse Fashion Week is a chance to give consumers a new kind of experience with the company and potentially form relationships with them, said
co-founder of Cider.
“Whatever you do in the metaverse can also [lead to] a new membership with the brand,” Ms. Oppel said.
Some participants in the event don’t sell physical items at all.
The 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 release digital wearables alongside well-known luxury brands has not typically been available during traditional fashion weeks in the physical world, said
founder and director of XR Couture.
“Not just luxury brands are highlighted, but also individual creators,” Mr. Jain said.
Metaverse Fashion Week is hosted by the Decentraland Foundation, the nonprofit organization that builds tools for the platform and handles its marketing.
Companies are using the event partly to figure out how a potential new wave of customers will want to shop in digital environments, said
chief executive and founder of Tokens.com and executive chairman of the Metaverse Group, a metaverse developer that is letting Decentraland use its land during the event.
“This is the next way the internet is going to get used, and in two, three years, no one’s going to be talking about the metaverse—it is just going to be part of your everyday life,” Mr. Kiguel said.
Decentraland has about 562,000 monthly active users as of February, according to the company.
There is a possibility that Metaverse Fashion Week could occur on other virtual platforms as well, said
head of Metaverse Fashion Week and head of community and events at Decentraland Foundation.
“Our desire is not to centralize, but to collaborate with other initiatives in one big event and adjust as we go,” Ms. Casimiro said.
Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at [email protected]
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