The Metaverse is making headlines everywhere, and you’d be forgiven for not really getting what all the fuss is about.
When Facebook decided to change its name to Meta, it sent everyone into a frenzy of info-digging to try and figure out what it all meant.
But the Metaverse isn’t a new concept. SciFi authors have been creating dystopian worlds from the concept for decades, movies have been made about it – remember The Matrix? Ready Player One? – and a lot of tech-y people were already working towards the future of connectivity.
Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge: “You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it. And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness.”
Which is not particularly helpful, even when he explained that the Metaverse was, in essence, virtual reality, but not just VR, gaming but not just gaming… in short, everything digital but not just those things. Which is fair really, because nobody knows what the Metaverse really is yet.
In the end, the most helpful thing he said was: “I think [it] is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it.”
Trying to define the Metaverse is no easy feat, but there are already a lot of people “plugged in”.
Fashion has embraced the concept from the start and some of the biggest brands are already banking big on the new “universe”.
Since the Metaverse is basically a digital, alternate reality in which we can all evolve and interact, it’ll need fashion.
To enter the Metaverse, you need an avatar, which probably needs to be clothed.
The social aspect of the new digital universe also brings with it status, influencers, shopping… so of course, all of this was tailor-made for fashion to thrive.
Fashion in the Metaverse blends digital fashion, augmented reality, social media, NFTs, digital stores…
And brands are getting in on the action, with everyone from Balenciaga, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry to Vans already in the Metaverse.
There are plenty of opportunities for fashion to be integrated with the virtual world, from digital fashion that produces “real” garments to augmented reality looks or avatar fashion.
When Zuckerberg introduced Meta, we saw him go through his digital closet, picking what to wear before interacting with others. Just like in the real world, if Zuckerberg had a wardrobe that consisted of more than his trademark plain jeans and t-shirts.
But beyond Meta CEO’s lack of fashion cred, tech and fashion are turning out to be quite happy bedfellows.
An early adopter, Fabricant sold its digital Iridescence dress for almost $10,000 back in 2019.
Carlings, meanwhile, has a Last Statement T shirt on which you can display messages through your phone. And yes, in the real world, it’s just a plain old t-shirt.
Digital fashion already has its own NFT fashion marketplace with DressX, and more are sure to follow.
And then, of course, there are the digital influencers.
One of the most interesting is Candy, Prada’s “muse”, a fully digital influencer making waves with its fragrance collection, Candy.
Virtual influencers are here to stay, and there is even a Virtual Influencer Agency, launched in 2017 and now striving.
Avatars are becoming more “real” too, with most now having “flaws”, likes and dislikes and personalities.
Fashion dipped its toe in the digital universe through gaming, with the Sims attracting plenty of brands, and lately Roblox and Fortnite being two of the platforms of choice.
So where is fashion in the Metaverse going? Frankly, it’s impossible to say. It’s expected to be worth a lot of money, but for that to happen, the Metaverse needs to be more than a billionaire’s dream.
What’s quite reassuring, however, is that fashion, which has historically been one of the slowest adopters of new tech, is now in the game from the start. Quite literally.
Let’s see where this takes us.