If the metaverse, NFTs, or Web3 are part of this new vocabulary that is putting the fashion industry under stress, the economic opportunities generated by the digital universe and the sustainability of this new paradigm remain unanswered questions.
The first Metaverse Fashion Week, which took place March 24-27 on the Decentraland catwalk, created quite a buzz. However, despite the participation of world-renowned brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Paco Rabanne or Dolce & Gabbana, the post-event report shows that attendees leave something to be desired and a user experience that needs to be deepened.
Facing this new paradigm, agency BEM Builders (for “Brand Experiences in the Metaverse”) has been supporting brands in their metaverse integration since 2020. FashionUnited spoke with Paul Mouginot, data specialist and co-founder of the agency, to understand the new challenges they face ( metaverse) for ready-to-wear brands and retailers.
“When a brand wants to establish itself in the metaverse, it generally goes through several stages, the first of which is to understand exactly what Web3 is (a term used to designate a decentralized network using blockchain technology) and what using the brand can make it possible to make. For this purpose, he provides BEM Builders Training in partnership with organizations such as the Institut Français de la Mode.”It is often our entry point with many players,” especially with luxury brands such as Dior and Gucci, to whom the agency provided the first major operations in the metaverse.
Second, the agency works on idea seminars with brands according to their ambition and DNA. “We invoke the concepts of ownership and transfer of digital assets and seek the best practices in terms of brand identity.” The last step is to sketch out the concept, especially thanks to his craft group (architects, 3D modeling, etc.).
If we gradually realize the economic potential of metaverse, brands are still struggling to free themselves from the constraints of the physical world in the context of their virtual experiences. Today’s metaverse is like a parallel real estate market where each actor builds new buildings (or recreates existing ones) in order to accommodate new experiences. In this booming market, BEM Builders supports brands even in acquiring land within platforms like Sandbox.
Strengthening the relationship with the client
“Today, use cases for the metaverse are still somewhat limited,” Paul Moginot explains, and we can see that retail players are still constrained by fear of the unknown. “These virtual universes are mainly used to watch, display or send messages via the game’s perspective. We try to encourage our customers to free themselves from the laws of gravity, to create funky paths or use unexpected colors.”
One of BEM Builders’ latest achievements: the virtual building for the Nelly Rudy Agency. “We reproduced the large dining room of their private mansion. On the first floor, we created a “white cube” intended to host exhibitions,” explains Paul Mugino. Nelly Rudy’s strategy: rent this space for brands to organize temporary exhibitions in the Metaverse area.
The co-founder of BEM Builders believes in developing hybrid models where new technologies enable stronger connections between brands and their customers. Today’s best example: NFTs, these “non-fungible tokens” that allow their owners to access personalized experiences. “These are new tools that make it possible to use the customer base as a medium in its own right and interact with them better,” he explains. “It is no longer about investing in advertising, but in improving the experience provided to the customer.”
Many brands have already invested in NFTs, such as Gucci, Lacoste, Diesel, AZ Factory and Boohoo, enhancing customer loyalty through the exclusive experiences made possible by holding this digital certification.
NFTs can allow brands to move forward with their business model. According to Paul Mugen, modeling in virtual universes or in the form of NFTs can liberate creativity and encourage experimentation.
The margin generated from the sale of the NFT can also be used to fund the formation of a future group. “We can imagine that in the future companies will create completely decentralized clothing collections at the request of the community. And if the community, by voting, funds the production of the collection in advance (notably thanks to cryptocurrency), then this is a new model for the brand.”
If we consider the attendance rates of the various metaverse platforms, everything leads us to believe that this new model has a future. Despite the mixed success of Metaverse Fashion Week, the number of visitors to Decentraland still runs into the hundreds of thousands daily. Roblox gaming platform recorded 49.4 million daily active users in 2021, an increase of 35 percent over the previous year.
Incorporating the metaverse presents an unprecedented opportunity for fashion brands to reach a wider audience and retain new customers. It also means accessing it “differently, through motivation and user experience,” Paul Moginot adds, on platforms whose economic model is based on in-app purchases. A new market in full development that, according to a Bloomberg study, should weigh in at nearly 750 billion euros by 2024.