Fashion Embraces the Metaverse – Sourcing Journal

The virtual train was more like a clown car this year, with everyone from Walmart to PacSun diving into the Metaverse.

It makes sense: e-commerce is the biggest economic driver driving growth in a market that research consultancy McKinsey has estimated at $5 trillion, and Web3 shopping as a $2.6 trillion opportunity. With more than 400 million users of virtual worlds, brands are benefiting from the brave new World Wide Web, according to metaverse consultancy Metaversed. And while NFTs have lost some of their luster, luxury houses are still chasing the daily high of $22 million set by Adidas late last year.

“Regarding the metaverse, if you break the hype, you know one thing — it’s going to be a shopping medium,” said Chris Bruderle, vice president of research and insights for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. “As Web3 adoption continues to accelerate, we will increasingly see more brands creating storefronts across the metaverse. The old adage ‘if you build it, they will come’ will hold true for this burgeoning category.”

Here are some of the biggest moves in the virtual world from 2022.

Adidas

Adidas brought its Ozworld sneakers to the virtual universe in April thanks to a “pioneering partnership” with avatar creation platform Ready Player Me. The digital experience used a custom personality quiz to generate interoperable avatars for more than 1,500 games and apps. These alter egos can digitally try on sneakers from the Ozworld collection before (ideally) buying them. Although Ready Player Me typically creates its avatars from user-submitted selfies, as part of its partnership with Adidas, it will create characters based on how contestants answer a series of questions, including one asking about their favorite Ozworld shoe silhouette asks. The platform then translates this information into a unique avatar that “takes aesthetic inspiration from the collection’s dynamic visual codes.”

Alibaba

E-commerce giant Alibaba celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Tmall Luxury Pavilion in October with efforts to lure shoppers to the Metaverse. Tmall used the event to introduce “Meta Pass,” which grants shoppers priority access to products within the digital landscape. Blockchain-certified warrants can be purchased by passport holders and exchanged for limited-edition items. Exclusive merchandise such as a Max Mara Fall 2022 oversized sweater, a Burberry Lola bag and fleece-lined Pablo sneakers from Marni were available to attendees.

Fashion Week

Browser-based 3D virtual world platform Decentraland hosted the inaugural Metaverse Fashion Week in March, with more than 60 luxury and digital brands bringing presentations, concerts and after-parties to the virtual world. Brands were able to virtually present their Spring 2022 collections in different “neighborhoods” in the platform’s Fashion District. Tommy Hilfiger invited guests to teleport their avatar into his virtual store to purchase floating 3D renderings of limited edition products from his spring collection, which can be purchased as NFTs and redeemed for physical products. Mango showcased three NFTs co-created with crypto artist Luis “Lajos” Arregui Henk, known as Farkas, and the Spanish retailer’s own technology and 3D product design teams.

HM

The H&M boutique in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is the retailer’s latest introduction to Metaverse fashion. A curated preview of the chain’s latest Innovation Design Story collection opened earlier this month, with the entire collection set to be seen at H&M’s Times Square location and online. The line-up travels into the Metaverse using the H&M app, where five augmented reality filters are available, completing the innovation Metaverse design story. Developed in partnership with the Institute of Digital Fashion, AR Fashion Lenses powered by Snapchat enable virtual try-on, bringing the physical and digital worlds together and allowing customers to express themselves in both IRL and URL.

Nike

Nike introduced its first sneaker NFT in April, four months after acquiring virtual fashion startup RTFKT. Unlike other brands that sold out a set number of non-fungible tokens at a set price, Nike’s first NFT was gifted to anyone who owned one of RTFKT’s CloneX avatars, a NFT collection released in November before Nike she acquired. Token holders can “burn” it – an action that will phase out the NFT – in exchange for a neutral RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis Cryptokick, an “Evo X Skin Vial” and a new MNLTH box. Earlier this month, the Web3 fashion startup launched a limited-time sweepstakes for sneakerheads in hopes of purchasing the first virtual shoe of its kind in the form of an NFT, which can be exchanged for a pair of Nike Cryptokicks iRL sneakers in real life can be redeemed. The state-of-the-art RTFKT kicks that connect to users’ smartphones are available at the blockchain price of 0.34 ETH, which is roughly $417. Considered the first shoe to unite the digital and physical worlds, the sneaker and accompanying NFT are limited to 19,000 models that can be built in any reality. But to enter the draw and be selected in the Private Mint Selection, entrants must have a WalletConnect-backed cryptocurrency wallet with at least 0.5 ETH ($625) and a US shipping address – which some might consider a Marketing scheme could appear for the open source protocol platform.

PacSun

The Anaheim, California-based retailer has spent the year betting on its theory that the Metaverse is the future, while PacSun continues to expand its virtual footprint. Last year, the brand announced it was collaborating with metaverse platform company Roblox Corp for Pacworld, its first special experience on the teen platform, launching into space with a PacSun-branded t-shirt and tie-dye jogging pants for gamers. Earlier this year, it launched a PacSun video game, PacSun the Game, featuring the PacSun Fantasy Mall concept and virtual boutique PS Reserve, which debuted at the multi-day Complexland virtual festival in May.

As for NFTs, PacSun sold its first, a .gif of its wave logo, in December 2021 for the equivalent of $776 and relied on that momentum to release the first of its Mall Rat series in January. Each Mall Rat reflects a PacSun store, with the background of the NFT providing an indication of that store’s location, e.g. For example, a cityscape for downtown Los Angeles and palm trees for Santa Monica. Three hundred unique NFTs were released, which also came with a unique physical shirt. PacSun published even more in March, although only two of the 14 Pac Mall Rats received a single bid. Despite the lack of interest, the specialty retailer continued to invest in space and launched a new Pac Mall Rat NFT “Denim Miniseries with Unlockable Content” in conjunction with its #MyDenimStory campaign in July.

“Brands have two options when it comes to entering the Metaverse and NFT space – wait and see or lead the way,” Brie Olson, president of Pacsun, previously told Sourcing Journal. “Both have risks. PacSun chose to take the lead as we are committed to PacSun’s cultural DNA, which focuses on innovation and creativity, which we believe reduces the risk of testing and exploring unproven concepts.”

Teen retailer PacVerse’s Christmas campaign tapped TikTok stars Brooke Monk and Mathieu Simoneau along with dancer Brynn Rumfallo and stunt performer Hero DW for the video “Welcome to the PacVerse,” in which they share the PacSun-created Metaverse Enter an immersive VR headset, explore environments including an ice-covered area and a futuristic airport terminal.

“PacVerse serves as a full-funnel medium in our virtual and physical worlds that helps improve brand equity and consumer experience. Our audience is the first generation to connect their digital and physical identities as a natural part of their lives, and the PacVerse theme is a celebration of their self-expression that reflects those identities and the unique sense of shared community they find in both.” Olson said. “Virtual brand worlds are an important part of the future, and one of the exciting things about these immersive virtual concepts is that discovery for our consumers is both fluid and creative without limits.”

Walmart

In September, retail giant Walmart entered the metaverse in partnership with Roblox, launching two interactive experiences within the platform: Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play. Both experiences cater to the Gen Z demographic, with Walmart Land focused on bringing the best in fashion, style, beauty and entertainment directly to Roblox’s global community of 52 million daily users. Walmart’s Universe of Play is what the retailer described as “the ultimate virtual toy destination in Roblox.” Through Walmart’s Universe of Play, the Roblox community can explore different toy worlds to earn coins for virtual goods, or complete challenges to build a personal trophy box, unlock secret codes, and more.

West Elm

Modern furniture and home accessories retailer West Elm partnered with Roblox in October to launch its own virtual world, West Elm Home Design. As the first major home furnishings retailer to debut on Roblox, its debut in the Metaverse offers a virtual experience of high-fidelity design and photorealism. The West Elm Home Design experience includes the West Elm Hub, which includes a furniture store, coffee shop and merchandise boutique, and the West Elm Neighborhood, where users can customize their home with over 150 virtual products identical to their physical counterparts are.

wrangler

Wrangler entered the Metaverse with an exclusive NFT and physical offering created in February in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning artist Leon Bridges. Kontoor Brands’ heritage brand debuted a two-part NFT drop titled “Mr. Wrangler,” which centered on a denim suit designed especially for Bridges. His “Mr. Wrangler Legendary” NFT cost 1,947 ETH in September, roughly $2,609. The NFT was the second and final drop in “Mr. Wrangler” collection unveiled during a Fashion Week presentation in Brooklyn, New York.

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