How can the metaverse help create value for fashion brands?
Consumer behavior has shifted, and increasing numbers of people value their digital persona more than the physical persona, showcasing who they are digitally. But many brands have yet to provide a solution, and can open up to new revenue models to supply virtual assets and goods like clothing.
We work with nonfungible-token (NFT) artists backed by Christie’s and Sotheby’s who are developing avatar projects and bringing them into our metaverse, so you naturally think about clothing and individual expression. How are people in the metaverse going to dress and express their individuality? How are we going to make the designs unique yet scalable? Can generative design enable mass customization for digital clothing?
And then there’s the physical space. How can you make the journey of product discovery, try-on and purchase more connected? Then how can you make resale more accessible, profitable, and efficient? We work with luxury and premium brands that are looking to digitize their collections and offer digital brand experiences to unlock new revenue streams and provide digitally immersive access points to their brand and product stories. Once these brands have their virtual worlds, they often want to enable their community to build, customize and monetize with their branded environments, structures, art, clothing, and furniture, which opens doors to even more opportunities.
What will help drive interoperability across platforms?
I believe, as more and more platforms adopt blockchain technology, it will allow for token-gated experiences, where you can bring your digital persona inside a virtual space. So as more companies adopt it, people’s wallets can become containers for them to carry around all of their assets.
And because you’ll be able to buy different things from different platforms and use them across different spaces—which is something consumers already are keen on—there will be more incentive for platforms to work together over time. At least that is what we’d hope for.
What role does the independent creator play in the metaverse?
Seeing the evolution of e-commerce (toward social commerce), I imagine brands will want to showcase their products in their own immersive ways in their own virtual worlds. More and more brands, even in the luxury space, are moving away from established third parties to build and expand their e-commerce capabilities and are turning to independents to maintain ownership of the platform and data and the ability to define all the rules of engagement.
In terms of the incentives for independents to create something for large brands, they would want to know what royalties they will see, and whether they will see those indefinitely—for example, from primary versus secondary sales, so there’s been a big shift from that perspective.
I do see digital creators really driving this new digital renaissance, and it’s going to be interesting to see how brands start collaborating more openly and transparently with them.
What are you most excited about for fashion brands looking to get into the metaverse?
I would say token gating will be big in Web3, as well as a focus on building stronger communities across all sectors, including luxury and fashion in general. And this provides fashion brands a gateway to offer unique experiences.
Although we initially viewed this as providing one-off experiences in terms of where brands were at and ready to take on, we are transforming our luxury metaverse platform into more of an evergreen experience where it’s always available. We typically tell brands to build a hub that anyone can join from all over the world. Then you can start adding that token-gated experience to extend the sense of exclusivity to the metaverse, with different portals to different areas that only offer access to certain users. That’s how we’re building it out at the moment, to enable utilities for NFTs and phygital products.
And then there’s the NFT marketplace component, which will enable brands to extend the consumer journey out of virtual worlds and provide more monetization opportunities.