The last week of March saw a memorable event: the first Metaverse Fashion Week (or MVFW) that took place in Decentraland – proving that we are on the threshold of the virtual fashion market.
On the one hand, the Metaverse Fashion Week has once again gained more media coverage than the last real editions. On the other hand, this is an incredible opportunity for designers and brands to move away from the snobbery that is online sales without personality.
The result? Something similar to the recent automated trading bot craze: a creative and commercial cocktail that refreshes the sector – despite some technical difficulties. Therefore, this first MVFW edition raised real questions about the potential of virtual fashion.
First Impressions of the Digital Catwalk
The desired start of the Metaverse Fashion Week took place on a Thursday, with the expected Dolce & Gabbana show. A few hours before the show, UNXD Luxury District lit up in a shower of lasers at coordinates -100, -18.
The center of this district is openly inspired by the Avenue Montaigne of the 8th arrondissement of Paris, which is home to luxury boutiques such as Etro, Frank Muller, Dolce & Gabbana, and Auroboros.
In the spotlight (literally), is a catwalk in the shape of an “8”. Although, compared to the actual model runway shows, Decentraland only let in avatars wearing the latest collections.
Everything went according to plan. Too much, perhaps, until the hundred or so spectators who had gathered began to write messages. “Nothing’s happening on my end – what about yours?” said one visitor, whose experience seemed to be shared.
By the time these people logged back in, the show had sadly ended, with a giant countdown announcing a long wait for the next one.
Supernatural, but not so much for Decentraland
A problem that seems to have occurred in the same way on Friday, at the Etro show, and to a lesser extent over the weekend. Some missed the cloud of pink stars that Etro rained down for the occasion.
Unfortunately, even a strong fiber and a gaming PC are not always enough to guarantee a stable presence.
Another venue that hosted several parades was Kollectif Catwalk (97,-13). This time it was a transparent tube forming a loop. Here, too, many Decentralanders crowded along this futuristic catwalk.
Perry Ellis, Christine Massary, MTA x DressX and 8sian followed each other. Virtual mannequins paraded, stopped, made the same three pauses and returned several times. This repetitive aspect was well thought out, as it allowed visitors to join the ongoing event without having missed anything.
Another of the most anticipated fashion show venues was Plein Plaza (-80,-57). The German designer did not disappoint. In the center of the vast venue, a gastropod-like creature periodically opened its macabre mouth from which a supernatural-looking mannequin emerged.
Supernatural, but not so much for Decentraland. That’s one of the lessons of this first MVFW: maybe brands don’t go far enough.
Should We Adapt the Real Codes to Virtual Ones?
Friendly and welcoming, the Decentraland regulars stroll through their metaverse in outfits more extravagant than the others: neon wings, backlit suits, robotic parkas, centaur bodies….
One could also say that an event supported by major brands was eagerly awaited. However, some of the shows seemed to pale in comparison to those who attended them.
This raises the question of the meta-strategy to be adopted by brands in the real world: settle for the spirit present in the physical collections, like Etro, or adapt it to the creative delusions allowed by the virtual (at the risk of missing out), like D&G?
The only certainty is that, given the diversity of looks worn by visitors, the potential customers are there. It remains to be seen the real size of this market and the investment it can justify within brands.
Beyond the fashion shows, Fashion Week was the occasion for Selfridges to inaugurate its flagship store (63, 14), a building with a honeycomb facade (directly inspired by its real flagship store in Birmingham) presenting the virtual creations of Paco Rabanne.
On Rue Rarible (-44, 70), visitors could also find the flagshipships of Perry Ellis or Puma x Artisant, and big-name companies such as Crypto Couture.
Ikks also launched its flagship store on another street dedicated to fashion, Portal Fashion District (-86, 108), which houses some fifteen brands, including Hogan and Tommy Hilfiger.
Tommy Hilfiger himself was present at this MVFW. Unfortunately, as some visitors complained on Friday, an error in the official schedule (corrected after the fact) made his speech much later than his actual time.
Thus, Fashion Week seems doomed to have scheduling problems even in the metaverse. Moreover, while the proposed panel discussions at MVFW are relevant in substance, attending them from virtual bleachers, in front of a screen within the screen, raises questions about the complexity of the proposed form.
Strolling through the shopping streets of Decentraland also raises questions. The advantage of physical retail over shopping websites is that you can see the clothes up close.
In a metaverse flagship store, the latter is no more visible than in Decentraland’s home market. This will sooner or later raise the question of the relevance of these stores modeled on the real thing, beyond the experience itself
Estée Lauder, whose products are not easily “virtualized”, seems to have followed this reasoning for its location (-17,140), put on the program of this MVFW: a giant jar of night cream floating in the air, with an “Estée Lauder Experience” inside for visitors.
Conclusion: A Long Way Ahead
As expected, the first Metaverse Fashion Week was not going to be perfect. Still, there is great promise awaiting us.
The fact that so many designers and brands participated is a huge step towards virtual fashion – and that, which the vast majority of the population still doesn’t understand.
Like any significant start in our real world, there is still a long road ahead for Metaverse Fashion Weeks.
Also, for the next editions, it is likely that more people will join, so get your ‘ticket’ early!