More and more fashion’s big names are exploring the virtual world that heralds Web 3.0. Their products and immaterial experiences assert themselves as signs of new times, always tinged with exclusivity.
Welcome to the next world. In 2022, not a week passed without a poster announcing its entry into the metaverse, this virtual parallel space with strong creative and commercial potential. This, of course, applies to the so-called “new generation” brands, but also to giant brands such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Prada or Balenciaga, who are embarking on a digital adventure, each with their own style in Communication and ideas. For those who are not of Generation Z, this phenomenon at first glance is quite complex. We talk about blockchain, NFT, cryptocurrency, virtual products, video games…
Concretely, what does the house do when it takes off in the metaverse? It is above all about making clothes, fashion accessories, pieces of jewelry and sometimes digital champagne – Dom Perignon has done this – from products that already exist. “Luxury homes, sometimes more than a century old, have built their reputation on their expertise and on inspiring creative proposals. Most of the time, they want to retain that notion of luxury when they offer things in the immersive universe. À ce stade, l’idée n’est donc pas de remplacer le réel mais d’offrir la version virtuelle d’un bel objet réel”, explique Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, cofondateur d’Arianee, une plateforme qui conseille les marques sur ce actor.
These digital products evolve on the web, generally between social networking and online gaming. These “looks” – as this is how these dummy clothes and accessories should be called in jargon – offer the possibility for players and netizens to decorate their digital pairs – avatars – with powerful looking pieces. A way for homes to target a new generation of connected consumers as much as they influence, and to communicate through channels that are stronger than they seem. Thus, at the end of 2021, the American giant Ralph Lauren launched a digital collection of clothing for winter sports, inspired by the Polo Sport line of the 90s, and everything was available for sale exclusively on the video game platform Roblox. A process accompanied by a digital experience: The Ralph Lauren Winter Escape, a game that allows fashionistas to explore the world of Ralph Lauren in the metaverse. “Our entry into the metaverse is a natural extension of our lifestyle brand, which has always aimed to bring customers into the worlds of Ralph Lauren,” said Alice Delahnt, Director of Content and Digital at Ralph Lauren. Our partnership with Roblox builds on years of digital innovation and underscores our belief in the potential of virtual economies and spaces — particularly in our relationship with the next generation of consumers. »
This is not an isolated case. Last December, Louis Vuitton imagined a virtual game to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of its founder. Lewis rudely baptized: The game, the experiment featured Vivian, a monogrammed spell, searching for 200 birthday candles on a background of house history. Also hidden are 30 NFTs (these non-fungible tokens, or non-fungible tokens, which are equivalent to title deeds to virtual objects), 10 of which have been signed by artist Beeple, a precursor to the sector. “The media is changing so quickly that you have to be able to constantly tell your story in new ways to communicate,” explains Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton President and CEO.
Parallel world of investment
Lured by the art market, precious NFTs, precious objects in the metaverse, are already in favor of the world of luxury and fashion. Dolce & Gabbana presented Collezione Genesi, which is off-duty, a series of nine NFT haute couture pieces (three jackets, men’s suit, dresses, tiaras and tiaras) unveiled in Venice during Alta Moda; Burberry has created its own NFT accessories in collaboration with video game platform Blankos Block Party; And Gucci just launched ‘SuperGucci’, a set of 250 NFTs that will be marketed in three phases…Because they are digital, these new types of products sometimes fetch huge amounts of money. Thus, the sale of Dolce & Gabbana NFTs, which took place on the specialized UNXD platform, brought in more than 5 million euros.
In this parallel world, each house advances at its own pace and without losing sight of its identity. This is the case of Fendi which, in January, unveiled real cases with a futuristic finish (brushed aluminum) designed to accommodate a physical Ledger cryptocurrency electronic wallet (a type of USB key). “Fendi is synonymous with innovation and craftsmanship, and we love ‘trick the eye.’ For us, creation is as much about the invisible as it is about the visible, which is why it is so important for us to embrace this near future and become a bridge between physical and virtual luxury. Fendi’s applied symbols are “Ledger’s innovative hardware is an exciting first step. Who knows where this might lead us?” commented Silvia Fendi, Artistic Director of Accessories and Men’s Collections.
Beyond products, major fashion events are not immune to this digital revolution. During the last week of haute couture, creator Julien Fournié proposed a pictorial work called First Love, in which two silhouettes were imagined for Pubg Mobile. Another scenario: At the end of 2021 across the channel, at the time of the British Fashion Awards, it was the turn of the British Fashion Council to adapt to the times by presenting an entirely new award: Metaverse Design, given to cSapphire, a content creator speaking on the Roblox platform. It is clear that young connected people have not finished changing the laws in force. Balenciaga recently announced the creation of a division dedicated to this parallel market (Metaverse Business Unit). By all indications, the metaverse is about to become the new playground and expression of the fashion and luxury industry. And the opposite is likely true.