NFT fashion in the metaverse: Top brands on tech’s catwalk

The world of digital fashion is still very young, so which brands will emerge triumphant?

Woman wearing a purple outfit and white handbag                                 
republiqe is a digital clothing company that designs garments using rose petals, concrete and broken shards of mirror – Photo: republiqe
                                

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There has always been a collector’s mindset in the fashion world, whether it be Jordan trainers or Chanel handbags. Fashionistas are now being given a chance to start building more technological collections, as prestigious fashion brands enter the metaverse and NFT space, giving users the opportunity to own digital versions of their stylish goods.

Although the basic goal of staying in vogue is the same, the methods and approaches of these NFT fashion brands vary. The concept of owning an unwearable fashion item might seem illogical, but there is a demand growing in the space.

James Gaubert, founder of republiqe, which is helping big names in the fashion industry get metaverse-ready, said: “Consumers are spending more and more time in these virtual worlds, and just like in real life they want to look good.”

Gaubert said that brands which currently have a slightly older customer base are seeing this as an opportunity to access the Gen Z market. “The luxury brands who are at the forefront of the industry want to be the ones doing the ‘cool’ stuff, and this is being seen as a quite a ‘cool’ thing.”

In the cut-throat world of fashion, here are some of the brands that are investing in the technological future…

Gucci

If you want proof that digital fashion pieces can be valuable, then look no further than Gucci’s Dionysus bag. The virtual version sold for more than $4,000 on Roblox, an online world, using the in-game currency. This was more than the bag’s real-world price point of $3,400. Unlike physical items or assets on the blockchain, a virtual Gucci bag does not have any worth outside the videogame.

Gucci has dabbled in the NFT world before, but not by releasing a fashion piece: instead, the fashion house’s first NFT was a film inspired by its recent Aria Collection. The NFT sold for $25,000 at an auction at Christie’s.

The iconic Italian fashion brand has certainly acknowledged digital fashion is the future, but it will be interesting to see where it goes from here. Could NFT fashion pieces be next for Gucci?

Dolce & Gabbana

The designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana took things a step further with their September collection, titled Collezione Genesi. The fashion duo bridged the physical with the digital in this nine-piece collection, which included golden dresses, luxury suits and decadent crowns.

Each piece of physical clothing had an NFT counterpart, which sold for a total of $5.7m in ether. And Dolce & Gabbana’s innovation did not stop there: it also gave purchasers the option of having their outfits recreated in a metaverse of their choosing.

Keeping the physical and combining it with technology allowed the fashion designers to maintain tradition but add innovation. This could be a key trend in the future of fashion.

Hugo Boss

The hot news in the digital fashion world right now is Metaverse Fashion Week, which is being held in Decentraland next month (March). There are expected to be plenty of opportunities for fashion brands during the metaverse event, including showrooms, stalls and catwalks.

Although the event organisers have been secretive about who is going to take part, they have said that luxury brands and household names will be there. Gaubert, who is working with several major brands to get ready for this event, said it will be a “significant” date in the diary as it is the first time anything of scale has been done. He hinted that a number of luxury brands are taking part, but was unable to reveal any names.

One brand we do know is showing up to Metaverse Fashion Week is Hugo Boss, which recently signed up with Boson Protocol. It is setting up a store in the digital world where people can order physical products.

Purchasing fashion has already come along way, from the physical to the digital basket. Marketing and selling products in the metaverse could be the next step forward.

Adidas

Hugo Boss is not the first brand to enter the metaverse. The sportswear giant Adidas announced in November 2021 that it had bought space in The Sandbox. The fashion sportswear company has said it plans to fill its virtual space with exclusive content and experiences.

It then released a set of exclusive NFTs, priced at 0.2 ETH, or roughly $600, a pop. The NFT world collided with fashion in this collection, especially as Adidas partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Punks Comic and Gmoney.

Customers who bought the NFTs gained access to virtual wearables in The Sandbox platform as well as physical counterparts that will launch in 2022.

Gordon Goner and Gargamel, two of the co-founders of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, said: “Adidas embracing the open metaverse signals a shift in granting stake to communities who participate in sport and culture. We hope this marks a shift in brands inviting creators to pioneer with us.”

NIKE and RTFKT

Sportswear rival Nike has followed in Adidas’s footsteps, quite literally, after purchasing a virtual shoe company called RTFKT. This was a monumental step for the brand: in purchasing an NFT clothing brand, it is investing heavily in fashion’s digital future.

Marjorie Hernandez is the co-founder of LUKSO, the first blockchain platform created specifically for the needs of the fashion and creative economies. She looks to RTFKT as an example of a new digital brand with lots of potential.

Hernandez said: “We have also seen phenomenal creations from RTFKT, who are a digital native brand and true pioneers in this space. They build with their community and empower creators, and that is something very important in the New Creative Economy.”

Nike’s grassroots culture seems quite fitting for a brand like RTFKT, which focuses on empowering creators. One of the co-founders, Benoit Pagotto, said in a recent interview with Forbes: “Your community aren’t mere ‘consumers’ anymore, but creators that are active in your ecosystem. It’s the opportunity for everyone to rethink their role, a real shift of power toward the creators.”

The future of NFT fashion in the metaverse

Hernandez is of the opinion that this new space will see large fashion houses ceding ground to a new wave of creators, such as RTFKT.

“Of course it’s very interesting to see how big brands approach the digital universe,” she said. “However, I’m mostly excited for the new talents to emerge in the digital fashion ecosystem. This space will allow many young creators around the world to flourish.”

The digital fashion world is beginning to develop new methodologies of its own, and Gaubert is excited about the creative implications. He said: “In the digital world there are no creative boundaries. We’ve created virtual garments out of concrete, broken shards of mirror, rose petals.”

Gaubert is not being asked to design virtual T-shirts, he said. Instead, brands are wanting to stretch the boundaries of fashion.

The NFT fashion industry is still in its infancy and while several brands are already dipping their toes in the water, the true market leaders are yet to emerge. So designing the most creative and innovative garments might be the best way to turn some heads.

FAQs

A metaverse is a virtual world with endless opportunites for its users, from gaming to socialising to wearing exclusive digital fashion. This digital universe is being hailed as a place without any creative boundaries.

There are many different companies that have already created or plan to release a metaverse, but currently Decentraland and The Sandbox are the leaders in the space.

A metaverse is a virtual world where the possibilities are endless. Users will be able to socialise, play games, and go to events.

Meanwhile, an NFT is a type of digital asset stored on the blockchain. NFTs can range from art to music to even shoes, and can sometimes be used in a metaverse.

It depends on the NFT and the metaverse. Some NFTs are designed to be used in the metaverse, such as Decentraland’s digital assets. However, not all NFTs are interoperable with metaverses.

Further reading

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