The Metaverse is becoming a platform to unite fashion communities

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A recent report from tech­nol­o­gy research and advi­so­ry firm Tech­navio pre­dicts that the Meta­verse will hit a mar­ket share val­ue of $50.37 bil­lion by the year 2026. There­fore, it shouldn’t come as a sur­prise that the tril­lion-dol­lar fash­ion indus­try has start­ed tak­ing a major inter­est in the Meta­verse

While most lux­u­ry labels and brands remain focused on cre­at­ing non­fun­gi­ble tokens (NFTs) to repli­cate phys­i­cal items, a hand­ful of projects have start­ed bring­ing their com­mu­ni­ties into the Metaverse. 

For exam­ple, on Sept. 5, Vogue Sin­ga­pore launched a fash­ion-first Web3 com­mu­ni­ty known as “Vogue Singapore’s New World.” While Vogue Sin­ga­pore has pre­vi­ous­ly shown an inter­est in NFTs by tok­eniz­ing their Sept. 2021 cov­er, Natasha Damodaran — man­ag­ing direc­tor of Vogue Sin­ga­pore — told Coin­tele­graph that the pub­li­ca­tion has gone a step fur­ther by cre­at­ing a vir­tu­al expe­ri­ence that encom­pass­es the theme of “Fashion’s New World.” Damodaran explained that the plat­form allows its com­mu­ni­ty to inter­act with var­i­ous types of con­tent and imagery. She said:

“Vogue Singapore’s New World cur­rent­ly allows users to explore a sur­re­al­ism-inspired realm fea­tur­ing a wel­come video from Vogue’s Sep­tem­ber 2022 cov­er star and super­mod­el Lina Zhang. Users can also expe­ri­ence an AI-gen­er­at­ed beau­ty shoot called Bio RESONANCE by artist Ter­ry Gates, along with dig­i­tal cou­ture by Bei­jing-based design­er Yimeng Yu cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly for Vogue Singapore.”

A glimpse inside Vogue Singapore’s New World. Source: Vogue Singapore

Damodaran explained that Vogue’s meta­verse is pow­ered by Spatial.io, a Meta­verse plat­form that spe­cial­izes in 3D spaces. The vir­tu­al space has also been designed by Polycount.io, an agency focused on NFTs. 

Gian­na Val­inti­na, head of mar­ket­ing at Spa­tial, told Coin­tele­graph that Vogue Singapore’s Meta­verse is acces­si­ble via mobile devices, desk­tops and vir­tu­al real­i­ty (VR). She added that users who enter the New World are able to cre­ate a cus­tom avatar that can then be dressed in two Vogue-exclu­sive wear­able cre­ations by fash­ion design­er Yimeng Yu. Damodaran fur­ther not­ed that users can inter­act direct­ly with Vogue Singapore’s Sep­tem­ber cov­er, while read­ing var­i­ous pieces of con­tent asso­ci­at­ed with images.

While Vogue Singapore’s New World enables a more engag­ing way for users to view and read con­tent, Val­inti­na stressed that this also allows brands and com­mu­ni­ties to build bet­ter expe­ri­ences. Indeed, Damodaran not­ed that the Meta­verse offers labels an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand their reach to oth­er mar­ket seg­ments while show­cas­ing cre­ativ­i­ty and crafts­man­ship. “For Vogue, that means con­nect­ing the fash­ion com­mu­ni­ty and intro­duc­ing them to Web3 and vice-ver­sa while still cre­at­ing avenues of engage­ment that are rel­e­vant on dig­i­tal plat­forms,” she said. 

Although this con­cept is still new, it res­onat­ed with Yu, who cre­at­ed the two dig­i­tal cou­ture designs for the plat­form. Yu told Coin­tele­graph that the devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy and the surge of online life in the post-epi­dem­ic era have brought new oppor­tu­ni­ties to the fash­ion indus­try. She said: 

“Dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and Intel­li­gent pro­duc­tion are inno­vat­ing the fash­ion design par­a­digm, pro­duc­tion process, dis­play method, retail­ing path and user expe­ri­ence with­in the fash­ion indus­try. In both design­er cre­ativ­i­ty and user expe­ri­ence per­spec­tive, the Meta­verse brings the fash­ion indus­try end­less possibilities.”

A cou­ture design for Vogue Singapore’s New World by Yimeng Yu. Source: Vogue Singapore

Regard­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties, Steven Kold, CEO of The Coun­cil of Fash­ion Design­ers of Amer­i­ca (CFDA) — a non-prof­it trade asso­ci­a­tion found­ed in 1962 con­sist­ing of Amer­i­can fash­ion design­ers — told Coin­tele­graph that to strength­en the impact of Amer­i­can fash­ion glob­al­ly, the CFDA decid­ed to launch an exhi­bi­tion in the Metaverse: 

“As we were mulling ways to mark our 60th anniver­sary, we decid­ed it had to be future-fac­ing, and an exhi­bi­tion in the Meta­verse was a per­fect way to hon­or our past with an eye to what’s next.”

Sim­i­lar to Vogue Sin­ga­pore, Kold explained that he hopes the CFDA’s entry into the Meta­verse will reach new audi­ences while spark­ing an inter­est in Amer­i­can fash­ion and design­ers: “Because it’s in the Meta­verse, indi­vid­u­als don’t need to trav­el to see the exhi­bi­tion, but can enjoy it from the com­fort of their own home.” 

Kold shared that the CFDA’s entry into Web3 will be marked with a curat­ed ret­ro­spec­tive of the last 60 years of Amer­i­can fash­ion, along with a col­lec­tion of com­mem­o­ra­tive NFTs for auc­tion to ben­e­fit the CFDA Foun­da­tion. The exhi­bi­tion is expect­ed to open in Dec. 2022 in The Sand­box.

While this demon­strates the CFDA’s first entry into Web3, Kold point­ed out that the orga­ni­za­tion is not yet launch­ing a for­mal plat­form. Although Vogue Singapore’s Meta­verse project is expect­ed to evolve (with a new phase launch­ing in Oct. 2022), Kold explained that CFDA’s eta­verse exhi­bi­tion is a “test and learn” for the orga­ni­za­tion. “The CFDA will start build­ing its Web3 com­mu­ni­ty while it onboards its cur­rent Web2 base. This will help us slow­ly build toward a larg­er Meta­verse com­mu­ni­ty and expe­ri­ence for Amer­i­can fash­ion,” he said. 

Regard­less, Akbar Hamid, founder and CEO of 5Crypto — the cre­ative con­sul­tan­cy behind CFDA’s project — told Coin­tele­graph that bring­ing the CFDA’s com­mu­ni­ty togeth­er in the Meta­verse is a first for fash­ion. “This is a great way to raise aware­ness and inter­est for fash­ion amongst the Gen Z audi­ence while bring­ing an old­er audi­ence into the Meta­verse. This is also an oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage Meta­verse cre­ators to work along­side icon­ic fash­ion design­ers and cura­tors to reimag­ine vision­ary style and design in a vox­elized envi­ron­ment,” he said.

Will fashion communities want to engage in the Metaverse?

Although encour­ag­ing fash­ion-focused com­mu­ni­ties to engage in the Meta­verse may be the next step for cer­tain projects, it remains unclear how users will react. For exam­ple, while Vogue Singapore’s New World is inno­v­a­tive, the con­cept may not imme­di­ate­ly res­onate with the publisher’s audi­ence. Bri­an Trun­zo, meta­verse lead for Poly­gon Stu­dios, told Coin­tele­graph that while brands on the Meta­verse tend to have a deep­er con­nec­tion with their con­sumers, media pub­li­ca­tions are still try­ing to bet­ter under­stand this:

“Media is still try­ing to fig­ure out how to use Web3 tools to engage an audi­ence and con­vert them from con­sumers into com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers or, in the best instance, super fans. Even those who suc­ceed­ed at this in Web2 are find­ing it dif­fi­cult as con­vert­ing one from Insta­gram to a DAO [decen­tral­ized autonomous orga­ni­za­tion] mem­ber or NFT hold­er is no easy task.”

How­ev­er, Jin­ha Lee, co-founder and chief prod­uct offi­cer of Spa­tial, told Coin­tele­graph that with­in a week of launch­ing New World, users col­lec­tive­ly spent over four mil­lion min­utes on the plat­form. “See­ing this demon­strates that a large major­i­ty of peo­ple have been enjoy­ing the space dur­ing Vogue Singapore’s launch,” he said.

While this sta­tis­tic is note­wor­thy, Justin Banon, co-founder of Boson Pro­to­col — a meta­verse com­merce pro­to­col focused on dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal fash­ion — told Coin­tele­graph that, as with any new tech­nol­o­gy, there will ini­tial­ly be a peri­od where users vis­it the plat­form explorato­ri­ly rather than with a fer­vent desire to do much else. But, while adop­tion may be slow, Banon believes that projects like the one being ini­ti­at­ed by Vogue Sin­ga­pore will ulti­mate­ly impact the entire fash­ion and media sector:

“When we ask whether more fash­ion mag­a­zines will want to enter the Meta­verse mov­ing for­ward, I believe the only con­clu­sion to come to is yes. It’s a new space, brim­ming with inno­va­tion and authen­tic­i­ty, con­cepts that the world of fash­ion has prid­ed itself on since its incep­tion, so the Meta­verse is the next log­i­cal step for­ward. I don’t believe that there will be a sin­gle fash­ion mag­a­zine that won’t have adopt­ed Web3 and the meta­verse in some shape or form in the future.” 

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