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Is Metaverse Fashion Just A Fad? How Web3 Is Transforming E-Commerce

Fashion design VR

For all of the furore surrounding the metaverse, the role of fashion within this exciting new Web 3.0 ecosystem raises many eyebrows. The process of converting physical fashion ranges into digital lines for digital avatars to wear and users to collect has been heavily explored by high profile fashion houses seeking to explore a new market, but will it amount to anything more than a fad?

There’s little doubting the appetite that users have for digital fashion today. According to the Future of Marketing Institute, 47% of consumers are interested in digital clothes, while an impressive 87% have already purchased some form of digital fashion. 

Digital fashion could be seen as an extension of avatar customization stores that have become commonplace in the world of gaming. Today, it’s not unusual to see high-end brands partner with video games to release limited content within stores to help players to decorate their characters in more varied ways. 

 

Fortnite

One of the earliest metaverse successes when it comes to combining digital fashion and functionality is Fortnite. The free-to-play open world battle royale game has set up strategic partnerships with 100s of brands, including Balenciaga, Ferrari, Marvel, the NBA and NFL, Air Jordan, and a series of other major names and organizations from the world of sport and entertainment. 

By possessing such an active online store, Fortnite has become a force to be reckoned with despite allowing players to take part in with no upfront cost.

With this in mind, it’s clear that there can be a market for digital fashion in the age of Web 3.0, but will there really be a sustainable appetite for users to spend big on high fashion in the metaverse?

Fashion’s Relationship with the Metaverse

The fashion industry’s relationship with the metaverse currently takes two forms, one is a combination of digital and physical clothing that can be worn in an augmented or virtual way, and the other is a fully digital interpretation of fashion–where items are sold to avatars as NFTs. 

The beauty of fashion in the metaverse is that it can be an excellent means for prestigious fashion brands to market impactfully to young, technologically literate, consumers. The moves of leading names in fashion into the metaverse were quick. In 2021, Gucci Garden became an online game within the Roblox metaverse whereby users could buy the brand’s designs like handbags and other accessories online. Balenciaga also launched a VR fashion collection of Fortnite skins for player characters to wear in-game using the title’s own virtual currency. 

More recently, Nike also launched its own foray into the metaverse in the form of Nikeland, which acted as a virtual store where customers could try on a range of digital products. 

Interestingly, brands like Nike and Burberry have opted to price their virtual goods in parity to their physical counterparts. Although buying some virtual Nike sneakers won’t mean you’ll ever be able to hold them in your hand, the sportswear designer believes that this can be a valuable means of delivering a greater level of utility to prevent NFT clothing becoming a fad. 

Contending with Obstacles

While creating digital fashion as NFTs can be highly versatile in virtual spaces, this isn’t necessarily something that the metaverse can support. At present, many companies are creating different environments that may not become unified in a way where users can showcase their digital fashion on a larger scale. 

This can be a tricky obstacle for metaverse fashion. When users pay big money for digital garments, it can be a great way of creating a virtual identity, but this can be compromised if, say, your $100 digital sneakers can’t come with you from one platform to the next. 

Another issue that the metaverse will need to overcome refers to the matter of the carbon footprint that NFTs can leave. The mining of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin requires high volumes of computational power which can be damaging to the environment. With most NFTs being based on Ethereum’s network, the long-term sustainability of non-fungible tokens will be tied to the network’s commitment to lowering energy consumption on the blockchain. 

Will Metaverse Fashion Make it Into Everyday Life? 

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has seen a massive shift towards digital transformation across many everyday activities. With the metaverse promising to complement the push towards work from home (WFH), we could feasibly see our avatars become an essential extension of our personality. 

For virtual meetings, we could don our best branded formal clothes to make a positive impression and raise our profile within our respective companies. 

The recent decline in the value of NFTs will undoubtedly be worrying for fashion houses that have bought into the metaverse, but the future viability of VR fashion will hinge on there being unified virtual spaces for users to showcase their virtual goods. 

Time will tell if metaverse fashion can evolve alongside Web 3.0, but video games like Fortnite have shown that there’s certainly a market for virtual ‘skins’ and accessories. The long-term viability of this particular movement will be down to making a similar level of user appetite manifest in the metaverse. 

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