The metaverse becomes a platform to unite fashion communities

A recent report by technology research and consulting firm Technavio predicts that the metaverse will have reached a market share value of $50.37 billion by 2026. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the trillion-dollar fashion industry has begun to take a major interest in the metaverse.

While most luxury labels and brands remain focused on creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to replicate physical objects, a handful of projects have started bringing their communities into the metaverse.

For example, on September 5, Vogue Singapore launched a first Web3 fashion community known as “Vogue Singapore’s New World”. While Vogue Singapore has already shown interest in NFTs by tokenizing its September 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 different types of content and images. She says:

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

A glimpse into the New World of Vogue Singapore. Source: Vogue Singapore

Damodaran explained that Vogue’s metaverse is powered by Spatial.io, a metaverse platform specializing in 3D spaces. The virtual space was also designed by Polycount.io, an agency specializing in NFTs.

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

While Vogue Singapore’s new world allows users to view and read content in more engaging ways, Valintina pointed out that it also empowers brands and communities to create better experiences. Indeed, Damodaran noted that the metaverse offers labels an 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 back while creating relevant channels of engagement across 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 rise of online life in the post-epidemic era have brought new opportunities to the fashion industry. She says:

“Digital technologies and smart production are innovating the fashion design paradigm, production process, display method, retail journey and user experience within the fashion industry. from a designer creativity and user experience perspective, the metaverse offers the fashion industry endless possibilities.”

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

Regarding new opportunities, Steven Kolb, 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 Cointelegraph that to strengthen the impact of fashion American in the world, the CFDA has decided to launch an exhibition in the metaverse:

“As we considered ways to mark our 60th anniversary, we decided it had to be forward-looking, and an exhibit in the metaverse was a perfect way to honor our past with an eye to what’s next.”

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

Kolb shared that the CFDA’s entry into Web3 will be marked by a curated retrospective of the past 60 years of American fashion, as well as a collection of commemorative NFTs at auction to benefit the CFDA Foundation. The exhibit is set to open in December 2022 in The Sandbox.

Although this demonstrates the CFDA’s first entry into Web3, Kolb pointed out that the organization is not yet launching a formal platform. Although Vogue Singapore’s metaverse project is set to evolve (with a new phase launching in October 2022), Kolb explained that the CFDA’s etaverse exhibition is a “test and learning” for the organization. “CFDA will begin to build its Web3 community as it integrates its current Web2 base. This will help us slowly build towards a bigger metaverse community and experience for American fashion,” he said.

Either way, Akbar Hamid, founder and CEO of 5Crypto – the creative consultancy behind the CFDA project – told Cointelegraph that bringing the CFDA community together in the metaverse is a first for fashion. “It’s a great way to educate and engage Gen Z audiences in fashion while bringing older audiences into the metaverse. It’s also an opportunity to engage metaverse creators to work on alongside iconic fashion designers and curators to reinvent visionary style and design in a voxed environment,” he said.

Will fashion communities want to engage in the metaverse?

While encouraging fashion-focused communities to engage with the metaverse may be the next step for some projects, it’s still 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, Head of Metaverse for Polygon Studios, told Cointelegraph that while brands in the Metaverse tend to have a deeper connection with their consumers, media publications are always trying to better understand this:

“The media are always trying to figure out how to use Web3 tools to engage an audience and convert them from consumers to community members or, in the best case scenario, super fans. convert one from instagram to dao [decentralized autonomous organization] member or holder of NFT is not an easy task.

However, Jinha Lee, co-founder and chief product officer of Spatial, told Cointelegraph that less than a week after the launch of New World, users have collectively spent over four million minutes on the platform. “Seeing this demonstrates that a large majority of people enjoyed the space when Vogue Singapore launched,” he said.

While this statistic is remarkable, 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 when users will visit the platform in an exploratory way rather than with a burning desire to do something else. But, while adoption may be slow, Banon believes projects like the one initiated by Vogue Singapore will ultimately impact the entire fashion and media industry:

“When we ask if more fashion magazines will want to enter the metaverse in the future, I think the only conclusion we can come to is yes. It’s a new space, brimming with innovation and authenticity, concepts that the fashion world has prided itself on since its inception, so metaverse is the next logical step I don’t believe there will be a single fashion magazine that hasn’t embraced Web3 and metaverse under a form or another in the future.

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