Origins of the Metaverse
Is the Metaverse a hype or an internet breakthrough that’s here to stay. The word “Metaverse” became a buzzword after Facebook rebranded to “Meta” in October 2021. This caused a lot of confusion on what it actually means and how it will impact us. The term was first introduced in the 1991 book Mirror Worlds by David Gelernter. It talked about true-to-life mirror images trapped inside a computer. Gelernter, a computer scientist himself, predicted in the book that scientists will deploy computer systems able to capture extensive data about a particular reality. Shortly after, another writer Neal Stephenson, mentioned the word in his science fiction novel, Snow Crash, in 1992. Stephenson used the word Metaverse as what the internet has evolved into, a virtual reality.
Let’s decipher the word Meta further. The Macmillian dictionary defines it as “outside of what is real or usual”. Then, what exactly is the Metaverse? USA Today calls it “a combination of multiple elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users ‘live’ within a digital universe.”
In the Metaverse, you generally need VR equipment, come up with your own avatar and do daily things in the digital space, all in real time. You’ll be able to meet people to hang out with, work with colleagues, attend events, play games, shop and even date. Here, distance in real life does not matter.
The rise in virtual communities has been accelerated by the need for interaction brought about by the pandemic. If we cannot interact and socialize in the physical world, the demand of doing so in the virtual universe makes sense. It definitely isn’t the same, but it is something that people can benefit from in these times. And what generation has welcomed it more than by Gen Z.
How to Get into The Metaverse
One might ask, “So, how can we access this digital universe?” There are several platforms, but Decentraland is one of the most popular ones out there. Decentraland, is a market leader in blockchain-based virtual worlds. The company has experienced 10 times growth at the end of the quarter of 2021. Very impressive for a platform that only started working properly within that quarter. You can buy and sell about anything in that virtual space.
In order to buy items, cryptocurrency is required. You will need a crypto wallet as the Ethereum blockchain is where all transactions are stored on to provide true proof of ownership. That alone signals a potential for fashion to make big bucks in the virtual world.
Aside from the word Metaverse and cryptocurrency, you’ll have to understand the value in NFT’s as well. Because as an art, fashion fits perfectly into the picture. According to Glossy.co, they describe NFT (non-fungible token) as “a unit of unique data stored on the blockchain system that can be traded and sold.
Most digital files can become NFTs, but in the fashion industry, NFTs have mostly been through imagery.” These are different from skins which can still be bought within the Metaverse. Skins are clothing and accessories that already exist in the game. They are not as unique or expensive as NFT’s in the platform. Now, how fun is it to dress up your avatar? In the Metaverse, you can dress up in a wide array of choices, including branded clothes.
Virtual Fashion Week – the first of many?
May 27, 2021, marked the date for the first ever virtual fashion week in the Metaverse IMVU, which was streamed over YouTube. Although uneventful, it showed how much improvement can still be made and how big names can transform this opportunity into something spectacular. The push to get users into the metaverse has been more aggressive as companies are getting into a piece of the pie early. It would only make sense for fashion brands to catch on and delve into this new age. If you don’t see the magnitude of this modernity just yet, here are some figures.
Money in Metaverse Fashion
Decentraland reportedly sold 2.4 million dollars in their Fashion District. It is estimated that the value of 1 trillion dollars per year will be sold in the whole digital fashion metaverse. Luxury brands have started dipping their toes by selling their own NFT wearables available in gaming platforms. Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Gucci are just a few names participating in gaming collaborations.
Right now, you can purchase Balenciaga’s virtual clothing and accessories for less than $10 on Fortnite. Fortnite’s average daily users are around 4 to 8 million. Balenciaga took to this as well as collaborated with the launching of a new video game The Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, in time for the 2021 Fall and Winter Collection. Roblox, is another gaming platform where Gucci launched its Spring Garden collection. An estimated 41 to 50 million daily active users are on the platform, a large percentage of which belongs to the Gen-Z demographic.
Hopefully by now, you can see where this is going. Talk about pivoting. Now that fashion companies are leveling up to a new playing field, we are probably ready for a revamp of fashion shows in the Metaverse.
So when will the next virtual fashion week be in the metaverse? It may be closer than you think. Decentraland tweeted the dates, March 24 and 27, 2022. It will take place on Tokens.com’s virtual land. Expect consumers to watch runway collections, engage with other viewers, and buy the virtual clothing and accessories for their online avatars.
Will it catch on?
Fashion companies have now transcended to keep up with the times. This has now become an opportune time where buying clothing and accessories have become purely for aesthetics and monetary (or crypto) investment. But what about the experience? Will buying wearables for your virtual self, have the same fulfillment as trying on a new ensemble IRL? I, for one, seek out new clothes that I can look confident in. How would that translate in the virtual world, if it could. Should you consider where you will be spending your time in the next few months or years? Will you be seen more in the virtual space or out in the real world? One may argue that this is comparing oranges and apples. As there is resistance expected in every change, I am curious and will definitely, for now, be a spectator on how the fashion industry will evolve into this virtual sanity. But for now, I must say, nothing beats the feeling of getting my clothing packages in the mail. Nothing yet.