The fashion world is stepping into virtual reality.
Designers including Tommy Hilfiger, Philipp Plein, and the digital-first brand Auroboros will feature in the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week, which kicks off today and runs through March 27. The virtual reality platform Decentraland will host the event which is being billed as “a milestone event in the global fashion industry.”
Metaverse Fashion Week has the opportunity introduce brands to new customers and allows luxury brands to expand their points-of-entry, says Gigi Casimiro, head of Metaverse Fashion Week at Decentraland. Not everyone can sit front row at New York Fashion Week–but anyone with WiFi and computer access can experience Metaverse Fashion Week.
And you won’t need to download any apps or invest in a special headset to view it. Decentraland is currently a browser-only virtual world, so anyone can visit the platform’s public “Luxury Fashion District,” which was designed specifically for the virtual event. “Our whole existence as a platform is based in community,” says Gigi Casimiro, head of Metaverse Fashion Week at Decentraland. “So it’s important that anyone can come and watch.”
Jonathan Simkhai shared a similar goal in his own digital debut. A few days ahead of his New York Fashion Week presentation in February, he became the first fashion designer to debut digital wearable versions of his fall/winter 2022 collection ahead of the line’s real-life counterparts. The West Hollywood, California-based designer held a virtual fashion show through the platform Second Life, in which Sim-like models wore digitized versions of Simkhai’s designs. Following the show, Second Life users could purchase digital versions of the designs for their virtual avatars. Simkhai also placed several designs up for purchase as NFTs, available in limited editions.
NFTs and digital wearables will also be available in Decentraland’s marketplace. Pricing and exact products have not yet been released, but Casimiro says that costs will vary by brand and by rarity (an NFT by a luxury fashion house sold in a single edition, for instance, may be put up for auction, while a more mass brand–like Los Angeles-based retailer Forever 21, which is participating in the event–may offer digital tokens at lower costs, or even for free).
Decentraland has worked with the signed-on businesses to educate them on the basics of web 3.0, including how to set up crypto wallets and sell NFTs–so there is a clear economic opportunity for those involved. But Casimiro sees the event as a signal of a larger trend. “There is an entire economy that is growing,” she says. “The reason why we decided to host Metaverse Fashion Week is that we saw a lot of movement within Decentraland with creators making and trading digital garments. Now, there are also brands that see there are customers who want to buy digital fashion.”