Last week, popular metaverse solution Decentraland partnered with UNXD, Vogue Arabia, Boson Protocol, and my company, Cash Labs, to put on the first-ever large-scale virtual fashion week in the metaverse. The event featured participation from over 70 brands and artists, including fashion industry mainstays such as Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfinger, Etro, Elie Saab, Brytehall and SHOWstudio, amongst others. Attendees and curators, such like myself, sought to explore the presentation of fashion in every format possible in the metaverse, from runway shows to retail experiences, gallery presentations to film festivals.
As hosting a Fashion-Week-scale event in an on-chain metaverse proved to be quite the feat, with numerous challenges to overcome throughout the planning process, we can finally say that this event capped off as a shining success. Despite poor internet connections, crashing computers, and other technical growing pains, this event onboarded thousands of new users of all ages into the metaverse and Web3. Within, there were innovations, triumphs, and pain points to remember, as there were key takeaways from this massive virtual event.
The future of e-commerce lives in the metaverse
Amongst several marketplace & e-commerce partners, Boson Protocol was one of Decentraland’s key collaborators working on this year’s fashion week. What they presented was nothing short of innovation. Via my Decentraland avatar, I walked from store to store and purchased pieces of virtual clothing quite seamlessly, using Ethereum via virtual kiosks. However, the real magic was that when I finished my purchases, I was sent to a page to enter my shipping information in order to receive a real IRL wearable piece of fashion mimicking the wearable I just bought. Suffice to say, the future of e-commerce is now moving into the metaverse as I was personally able to buy at least half a dozen real clothing items via my avatar in Decentraland. What Boson Protocol is doing is truly visionary, and I can’t wait to see wider adoption of these types of “meta-commerce” solutions—so to coin a term.
Beyond Boson’s activation, there were multiple retail experiences presented by UNXD, Rarible, the Vegas City District, and independent pop-ups from major brands like Philipp Plein and Estée Lauder. According to Stephane de La Faverie, Global Brand President of Estée Lauder & AERIN Beauty and Group President of The Estée Lauder Companies, “It marks a pivotal point for Estée Lauder in how we reach and engage new and existing consumers in the metaverse.”
While these brands opted to offer wearables only accessible in the metaverse, many did sell in significant numbers. According to the Decentraland Foundation’s Creative Director, Sam Hamilton, wearables selling in large volumes in DCL is far from a new phenomenon. “Decentraland has been on the cutting edge of rare and in-demand digital fashion since the launch of avatar wearables in 2020. Since that time, creators have been pushing both the technical and stylistic limits of Decentraland wearables and have created a booming economy with over $1 million in sales of avatar wearables last year,” remarks Hamilton.
Many current Internet speeds and devices can’t facilitate metaverse use
According to Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, the Decentraland Foundation’s Head of Metaverse Fashion Week, “MVFW22 [was] a moment in time when the fashion world witnessed the future of fashion, and how this world will enable them to meet new audiences, advance fashion sustainability, and reevaluate diversity and accessibility in fashion.” It is safe to say that MVFW22 accomplished all of the things that Casimiro mentioned and more. Though despite all of its triumphs, it is unfortunate to mention that many were unable to witness the excitement of the event due to sub-par internet connections or computer processors.
The reality of operating in the Web3 space is that we are living and working in the future. And the reality of the matter is that the future requires a lightning-fast internet connection and a computer with a decent graphics card plus enough RAM to process a metaverse solution, such as Decentraland, at its fullest. As it stands, you cannot currently view Decentraland on a phone, or most laptops with less than 16GB of ram. Even on a MacBook Pro with 32 gigs of ram and an excellent graphics card, running Decentraland on its highest “ultra” setting proved to be severely taxing on my device. So what can we take away from this? While part of the solution is reliant on technologies optimising their systems to be less exhaustive on devices/systems–if we want high-quality graphics and more immersive environments, we are all going to have to start upgrading our hardware if we expect ideal results.
The intersection of art and fashion had never been stronger in the metaverse
Apart from curating the event as a whole, on behalf of the Decentraland foundation, I was given a gallery space, the Cash Labs Gallery, to curate as I pleased. I sought to exhibit work that existed at the intersection of art and fashion–an ethereal realm that fits comfortably within the context of the metaverse. Featuring virtual fashion “wearable” garments presented as sculptures, fashion photography and 3D renderings (both moving and still) of fashion garments on figures, fashion on film, and more–the metaverse allows for unlimited potential in exhibiting fashion garments. Without the confines of reality, fashion garments can float effortlessly in virtual space, suspended exactly as their creator intended. This can be seen now in the virtual Cash Labs gallery space where offerings from brands including SHOWstudio, Karl Lagerfeld, Kid Super, AVAVAV by Beate Karlson, Krista Kim x The Fabricant, and more are on display.
While this is far from the only gallery space in Decentraland, and I implore first-time users to explore established galleries such as the Museum District, I do believe it is unique in the range of ways where 25 artists were involved. I too, explored the notion of what fashion can be in the context of the metaverse. It was amazing to see so many people virtually experience the space via their avatars, commenting in the chatbox, and encouraging others to “teleport” to the gallery.
If you want to see it for yourself, this is one of the activations that will remain up for the next month, accessible at the coordinates 72,16 or via the link on the official events page.