The Metaverse becomes a platform to unite fashion communities

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A recent report from technology research and consulting firm Technavio predicts that the Metaverse will reach a market share of $50.37 billion by the year 2026. It should therefore come as no surprise that the trillion dollar fashion industry is taking a keen interest in the Metaverse.

While most luxury labels and brands continue to focus on creating non-replaceable tokens (NFTs) to replicate physical items, a handful of projects have begun to bring their communities into the Metaverse.

For example, on September 5, Vogue Singapore launched a fashion-first Web3 community known as “Vogue Singapore’s New World.” While Vogue Singapore has previously expressed an interest in NFTs by symbolizing their September 2021 cover, Natasha Damodaran – director of Vogue Singapore – told TBEN that the publication has gone a step further by creating a virtual experience that takes the theme of “Fashion’s New World.” Damodaran explained that the platform allows the community to interact with different types of content and images. She said:

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

A look into the new world of Vogue Singapore. 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 was also designed by Polycount.io, an agency that focuses on NFTs.

Gianna Valintina, head of marketing at Spatial, told TBEN that Vogue Singapore’s Metaverse can be accessed through mobile devices, desktops and virtual reality (VR). She added that users entering the New World can create a custom avatar that can then be dressed up in two exclusive Vogue wearables from fashion designer Yimeng Yu. Damodaran further noted that users can interact directly with Vogue Singapore’s September cover, while reading various bits of content related to images.

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While Vogue Singapore’s New World enables a more engaging way for users to view and read content, Valintina emphasized that it also empowers brands and communities to build better experiences. Indeed, Damodaran noted that the Metaverse offers labels the opportunity to expand their reach into 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 engagement opportunities that are relevant across digital platforms,” she said.

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

“Digital technologies and intelligent manufacturing are innovating the fashion design paradigm, production process, display method, shopping aisle and user experience within the fashion industry. Both in the creativity of designers and in the perspective of the user experience, the Metaverse offers the fashion industry endless possibilities.”

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

In regards to new opportunities, Steven Kold, CEO of The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) – a non-profit trade association founded in 1962 made up of American fashion designers – told TBEN that to amplify the impact of American fashion worldwide, the CFDA decided to launch an exhibition in the Metaverse:

“While we were mulling over our 60th anniversary, we decided it had to be forward-looking, and an exhibition in the Metaverse was a perfect way to honor our past with an eye to what’s next.”

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

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

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

Anyway, Akbar Hamid, founder and CEO of 5Crypto – the creative consultancy behind the CFDA project – told TBEN that bringing the CFDA community together in the Metaverse is a first for fashion. “This is a great way to raise awareness and interest in fashion among the Gen Z audience while bringing an older audience to the Metaverse. This is also an opportunity to engage the creators of Metaverse to collaborate with iconic fashion designers and curators to reimagine visionary style and design in a voxelized environment,” he said.

Do fashion communities want to participate in the Metaverse?

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

“Media is still trying to figure out how to use Web3 tools to engage audiences and convert them from consumers into community members or, at best, super fans. Even those who have succeeded in this in Web2 find it difficult to convert one from Instagram to a DAO [decentralized autonomous organization] member or NFT holder is not an easy task.”

However, Jinha Lee, co-founder and chief product officer of Spatial, told TBEN that users collectively spent more than four million minutes on the platform within a week of New World’s launch. “When you see this, it shows that a large majority of people have enjoyed space during the launch of Vogue Singapore,” he said.

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While this statistic is remarkable, Justin Banon, co-founder of Boson Protocol — a metaverse trading protocol focused on digital and physical fashion — told TBEN that, as with any new technology, there will initially be a period when users are exploring the platform. rather than with a fervent desire to do much else. But while adoption may be slow, Banon believes projects like Vogue Singapore’s will eventually impact the entire fashion and media industry:

“When we ask if more fashion magazines want to enter the Metaverse, I think the only conclusion we can draw is yes. It’s a new space, brimming with innovation and authenticity, concepts that the fashion world has been proud of since its inception, so the Metaverse is the next logical step forward. I don’t believe there will be one fashion magazine in the future that will not have adopted Web3 and the metaverse in one form or another.”