Images of Fashion Week will likely conjure sleek runway photos, celebrity-ridden front rows, and barricades: across New York, Milan, Paris, and London, the events are cordoned off, confined only to press, buyers, and people who have social media communities surpassing the million mark.
But now comes the metaverse, where life is different — and where Fashion Week is more of a democratic, free-for-all space.
It was only a matter of time, really, before the metaverse would function as center stage for the moments that define industries. The fashion industry is one of the leading early adopters in this space, as opportunities for digital and virtual fashion have been scooped up by major-league designers (think Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga — you get the picture).
This overlap between immersive digital realms and fashion has been taken a step further by Decentraland, a browser-based 3D virtual world, which is in the midst of hosting a major multi-day fashion event. Over the course of three days, from March 24 to 27, Decentraland is hosting Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW22), with a cluster of participating brands, artists, and designers, featuring AI and robots, luxury wearables, and immersive runway experiences.
Tommy Hilfiger took part in Metaverse Fashion Week.
Credit: Decentraland / Boston Protocol
It appears to be an ambitious endeavour indeed, but the platform secured the presence of luxury designers, huge fashion houses, and high-street stores to take part. The list itself is massive. Think: Estée Lauder, Philipp Plein, DKNY, Karl Lagerfeld, Dolce & Gabbana, Selfridges, Forever 21, Perry Ellis America…I could go on.
The shows and events take place in community-run neighborhoods within Decentraland. Selfridges and Forever 21 have even purchased real estate in the metaverse, debuting their flagship stores during MVFW, featuring NFT wearables and exclusive online collections that users can purchase. Other brands, like Tommy Hilfiger, are offering physical products as NFTs, too. To make purchases (and create a Decentraland account), you’ll need an Ethereum wallet. Otherwise, you can attend as a guest.
Peppered in between these designer experiences are a fashion week staple: after-parties, including performances by meta performers and real-life (!) artists, including Grimes. The metaverse-savvy singer is poised to be closing digital fashion house Auroboros‘ MVFW show with a DJ set in the finale of Fashion Week inside Decentraland’s Luxury Fashion District.
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The most striking part of Metaverse Fashion Week extravaganza is how it differs from fashion week in reality. Within the digital ecosystem, anyone can attend, paving the path to eliminating exclusivity and allowing more fashion enthusiasts to experience something entirely new.
“We just leveled up the playing field for the world of fashion and decreased the limitations.”
“Decentraland is a virtual social world for everyone, anywhere,” says Decentraland Foundation’s creative director, Sam Hamilton. “A space built by and run for by its community. Through MVFW22, we endeavor to broaden the horizon of what ‘metaverse’ means. We just leveled up the playing field for the world of fashion and decreased the limitations.”
So what is MVFW, for all its offerings, actually like?
Jusi Crypto, a YouTuber detailing his experience at MVFW, did point out that there weren’t many people attending, at least at the time he entered. “There’s not a lot of people, surprisingly enough,” he said. The atmosphere considered changed once he entered a concert held by “Meta performer” Serena Elis, where a cluster of avatars had gathered for her set and things seemed a little more fun.
The YouTuber also pointed out that playing in a browser isn’t ideal, leading to a fair amount of “choppiness”, which I can also attest to.
I entered the metaverse for the first time, hoping to immerse myself — or even just catch a glimpse of — the promise of digital fashion. My laptop did not respond well (sad face), to say the least, indicating the possible limits of browser-based virtual worlds. Decentraland itself recommends using Chrome or Firefox to ensure optimal performance on a Mac or PC, though using both of these browsers on a laptop saw constant crashes.
To make an avatar and configure Decentraland was decidedly more simple, though, when things were running.
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Twitter users (and those possibly better acquainted with the metaverse as a whole) seemed to enjoy the experience, though. Many spoke about the performances, in particular, while others shared their outfits, consisting of flamboyant digital wearables.
WWD is keeping a running diary of the event, with attendees detailing each show and performance. Interestingly enough, the Dolce & Gabbana show was said to be similar to what “IRL runway events” are like: difficult to get a front-row seat, namely. The show itself seemed impressive visually, with large strobe lights and models strutting out of large lotus-like concoctions. The fashion publication also suggested changing graphic settings to “low” for an improvement in visuals and to avoid lagging.
This digital Fashion Week shows how a large scale, multi-day event could work in the metaverse, while also pointing to a rise of retailers and brands hoping to jump in on the possibilities platforms like Decentraland offer. Fashion has no problem experimenting, with many already jumping on the NFT bandwagon and other virtual assets. The question remains of whether consumers will seek to build a digital closet and increase demand for digital assets, but interest levels are running high of late.
If you want to try your hand at MVFW, you can enter Decentraland here. Events will be running until March 27.