As the digital world is ever-evolving, we are constantly hearing of terms that many of us may not be able to connect to or relate with. When it comes to fashion, like most industries, it’s imperative to keep up with the fast-paced changes occurring for both retailers and consumers alike. One of the latest innovations making major waves is the Metaverse. Now, while there are two known forms — the decentralised and immersive — I want to break down how it is taking the fashion industry on a virtual ride into the future. I also want to share how you can dive into all the digital fun and become a part of what Morgan Stanley is forecasting will be a $50 billion revenue opportunity for fashion and luxury by 2030.
What Does the Metaverse Mean?
According to techtarget.com, “The metaverse is a vision of what many in the computer industry believe is the next iteration of the internet: a single, shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space where humans experience life in ways they could not in the physical world,” and was a term originally used in 1992 by sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson. It is now being phrased as the next level future of the internet.
There are two forms of the metaverse: the decentralised, which focuses on blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Then there is the immersive web, which operates in virtual worlds, real estate, goods as well as AR and VR, which this article will focus on. What I have likened it to is an online interconnected utopia for each of us to carve out a creative space in the digital world for ourselves and our brands — both personal and professional.
How to Access Virtual Reality
There’s the route of a real traditionalist, such as those who prefer to use their computer or smartphone. However, these mediums have limited capabilities. Then there are those who look to the ways of the future with VR, or virtual reality, which allows you to immerse yourself into a different dimension using popular VR headsets. These are known to be both fashionable and functional.
Or you can elect the route of AR, also known as augmented reality, with sports and leisure-inspired glasses that offer an on-the-go option. However, keep in mind that tangible AR technology is still in the early stages of development and has limited options that have yet been made available to the public. We just want to keep you educated ladies, because we all know that we love options.
Want to Splurge?
These are the options for those who want to fully commit to both creating a new world and looking extra cool while doing so, like the Meta Quest Pro available for around AED 6,000. Ultra-sleek, wireless (only needed to charge) and sophisticated in black, this set comes with face and eye-tracking capabilities to ensure you look your best even in VR land and no PC (personal computer) is required to operate. If optimum experience in the Metaverse exceeds all other checkpoints, then according to PCMag MiddleEast, the Meta Quest Pro or Pro 2 (approximately AED 4,000), which is set to be released soon, will be one of your best options, as it is slated to be directly connected to the creation of Facebook’s Metaverse.
Photo credit: Xmartifydubai.com
Want to Splash?
These are options for those who are still on the fence about how this all comes together but curious enough to give it a go. When it comes to brand recognition, Sony is often a soft place to fall, like the Sony Playstation VR. Available in a cool black-and-white colour combo, it is known to be inviting with its clear visuals as well as work in perfect conjunction with its hugely popular counterparts the Playstation 4 and 5. The first VR model retails for approximately AED 1,200, or you can preorder the VR2 model, also featured, for approximately AED 2,000.
Photo credit: Playstation.com
Photo credit: Playstation.com
How to Access AR
Augmented reality allows you to adjust your surroundings, as opposed to VR, which completely alters and changes them into a computer-created image. AR is known to be a bit more interactive with the space you are already in as opposed to creating a totally different environment with VR. Plus it gives you the option to browse the web as is or dive into the developed apps made to make a new world like the Metaverse.
Known for their stylish unisex sunglass silhouette and compatibility with both i)S and Android are the Snap Spectacles. They offer Bluetooth and WiFi connection, as well sync photos and videos, have four mics for recording and high battery life. They even allow you to share directly to Snapchat. They’re the perfect pair of sunnies for those serious content creators at approximately AED 1,400, but keep in mind that this technology is still being developed, so continue research what is to come if you’re not ready to commit.
Photo credit: Esquireme.com
Do a Bit for Sport
For those who hold fashion and function foremost but are also athletic junkies, there are the Kopin Solos. They come with microphone and headphones for listening to music, operate with AR apps as well as voice control, audio guiding, and not to mention a really cool shade of orange with a sports-style silhouette. You can swipe a pair for approximately AED 1,800.
Photo credit: wearable-technologies.com
How AR/VR Are Impacting the Fashion Industry
Like all industries, fashion must constantly forecast what next and newest innovation will push us forward to the future. Throughout fashion history, technological developments have evolved the industry. Take my love as a little girl for paper dolls as an example. Now, I can dive into the digital world with my own avatars and more wardrobe options than I could have ever imagined. Or consider how hand sewing improved with the invention of the sewing machine and then the computerized sewing machine. Or how designers no longer have to sketch by hand but can create imagery through design with computer aided drafting (CAD) which now has evolved into digital design or “phygital fashion”, which we will discuss along with a few other elements.
While I personally think that consumers will always clamor to in-person interaction for fashion as they appreciate the ability to touch, feel, and connect with gorgeous garments, digitisation is leading the way.
Digital showrooms have created space in which retailers and consumers alike can have access to goods and even preview the latest and most exclusive collections without leaving their home. They are now offering the convenience of even the most luxurious fashion at their fingertips. With add-ons like virtual fitting rooms and try-on services as well as spaces that provide interactive tours, the digital showroom is determined to bring the industry into a new era of access.
Dive into Decentraland
Known as the brand that hosted the very first MVFW or Metaverse Fashion Week in 2022, Decentraland did so with a range of price points. There was fast fashion brand Forever 21, which launched a digital store filled with NFTs and avatars in their branded clothing, as well as luxury streetwear designer Philipp Plein, who launched Plein Sport, a digital sports segment to his successful brand. Then there was makeup conglomerate Estée Lauder and their wearable NFT, all who had representation in the world of virtual reality.
You access Decentraland by creating an avatar and then register for a variety of services ranging from free apps to paid ones. Access to MVFW does not require tickets or passes; however, you’ll need an Ethereum wallet with Decentraland’s own cryptocurrency MANA in order to purchase digital outfits or goods from any of the retailers.
Photo credit: Decentraland.org
Photo credit: Authentic Brands LLC for Wall Street Journal
Photo credit: ZoeMagazine.net
Photo credit: Metaversepost.io
Ready for Roblox by Ralph Lauren
Although the platform launched in 2006, the community of Roblox has quickly risen to digital masses with its release of curated communities like the Ralph Lauren experience. Its winter escape collection of signature gear was created exclusively for the Roblox brand and offered gender neutral options alongside an immersive winter wonderland filled with ice skating, a marshmallow toasting session, and a personalised Polo Ralph Lauren hot chocolate. This gaming excursion dropped new limited edition products and accessories while providing avatars with an array of stylish clothing options to choose from.
Photo credit: Robbreport.com
Let’s Get Phygital
Phygital fashion is becoming an integral piece of the prêt-à-porter puzzle for the digital world. It combines both physical and digital fashion in a way that brands can now create, market, merchandise, and sell their products in a fresh and innovative way while giving consumers access to exclusive items.
There are several ways that brands can get in on the phygital action. For example, Adidas and its collection of digital jackets, or woman-led local brands like Queen Mode Labs with their recent launch of digital fashion and ability to help you create your own collections.
Retailers can catch the attention of digital consumers by taking note of how Adidas created its capsule collections. This 16-piece limited edition drop had individualistic designs on each jacket, ensuring that once purchased, the owner would have exclusive rights. The pieces were given to buyers at random with the option to keep it or sell it on the market.
However, if you elected to sell your piece, you’d have to conduct the sale of the piece without prior knowledge of which of the 16 you received, similar to a lottery. The appeal would be that you want to keep your original item, increasing the value and rarity of a piece that is one of only 16 available. This collection was available exclusively in Sandbox, another virtual world similar to that of Decentraland. Each piece retailed for approximately AED 4,400.
Photo credit: VogueBusiness.com
Queen For a Day (Or a Lifetime)
Led by the local glamorous founder of the Modist turned game and tech educator, Ghizlan Guenez and her partner in taking the fashion and tech future by storm, Hajar Oushine, Queen Mode was created with the mission of “empowering choice and enabling diversity” in Dubai and beyond. The pair are building a community that is bridging the gap of understanding technology and the modern woman with their limited number of unique Queen NFTs.
What Queen Mode has done so differently is to integrate a decentralised item like the NFT with the immersive side of the digital world to bring phygital fashion offerings of wearables, skins and much more.
As for their NFTs, not only are they designed by a fellow female creative, Alejandra Michel Munguia, but they are all individually designed with special powers and energies that speak through the digital art.
Like Adidas, you have the option to sell your piece if you wish However Queen Mode encourages women to become and remain NFT holders. This is with hopes that once you purchase the Queen NFT, you will remain a lifetime member of their exclusive group, which allows you to access to their global network of business women from all industries and creates space to provide interconnected solutions while growing your personal and professional brand.
To learn more about Queen Mode Labs as well as a breakdown of what it means to own a NFT or engage in Web3, the entity that hosts the Metaverse and its many options- connect with them at QueenMode.io where you can also view their latest designer collection drop.
Photo credit: Queenmode.io
Photo credit: Queenmode.io
How Can I Embrace the New Digital World, and Is the Metaverse Meant for Me?
Technology is a part of our everyday lives and its evolution impacts so many of the industries we work with and participate in. I recommend determining what parts of future technology you find fascinating and exploring them a bit more. Play around a bit with avatars or join local groups like Queen Mode or other Web3 entities that can teach you how to safely and responsibly research what works for you.
Maybe you are a fan of data and finance and identify with the decentralized web or you appreciate visual arts and creativity and can explore the immersive web a bit more. The decision is yours, but a new and much more digitized future is fastly approaching. I hope this information shed a bit more light on how you can make your own way into the magic of the Metaverse.