Chief Marketing Officer at Launchmetrics, the leading Brand Performance Cloud in Fashion, Luxury and Beauty.
In recent years, the digital transformation of the fashion industry has gained significant momentum. Although digital demand for fashion and luxury could generate extra sales that reach $50 billion by 2030, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley (via The Business Of Fashion), the rise of the metaverse still represents a big challenge for luxury brands—but also a massive opportunity. Fashion houses have tried to find new ways to stay relevant in the digital world. Since the Web3 space of the internet will surely take years to develop, social gaming and NFTs could open up powerful opportunities for fashion to develop digitally. The metaverse could be the next evolution of how you use the internet, interact, work, play online and eventually dress yourself.
Enter the space through event activations.
One option for entering the metaverse with impact lies in event activations within video games’ framework. Gaming platforms offer a place where brands can exhibit their collections in a new way through digital events such as fashion shows or immersive experiences inside the creative director’s world. The unrestrained experience artists can enjoy in the metaverse may be what makes it interesting and exciting.
For example, Gucci partnered with Roblox in 2021 and invited visitors to embark on a unique trip in the virtual Gucci Garden on the platform. Entering the metaverse is also about marketing a fashion brand to a new demographic. As a matter of fact, social gaming gathers many players and their avatars together; collaborating with gaming and metaverse platforms can thus allow brands to engage with new communities. These communities are made up of consumers who are immersed in the metaverse and likely willing to connect virtually with beauty and fashion brands.
Balenciaga’s attempt to access Web3 was also a success. Through a collaboration with Fortnite, Balenciaga created a line of authentic Balenciaga x Fortnite looks, also called skins, that users could purchase for their gaming avatars. In addition, they were featured on three-dimensional billboards around the world, so they received additional attention. As part of fashion’s integration into the digital landscape, we have also seen the first Metaverse Fashion Week gather a mix of brand activations. Brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Etro and Elie Saab seized the opportunity to expand their points of entry by taking part in that metaverse fashion moment.
As well as positioning themselves as trendsetters in this new evolving landscape, brands could use their virtual presence to drive traffic back to their e-commerce stores or to sell wearable designs directly.
Take part in the NFT craze.
Getting a foot into video games is a start, but actually being a pioneer in creation within the metaverse is essential to building momentum. Indeed, the use of NFTs to create digital versions of clothes is a great tool that’s no longer reserved for artists or blockchain experts. By blending their physical and digital collections, brands can give digital value to their collections. NFTs are innovative; they allow brands to come up with the wildest creations without any constraints around materials or logistics. Moreover, the psychology of scarcity and limited editions that seems to drive the NFT mania could be a real asset for luxury brands.
Dolce & Gabbana has created NFTs with the Collezione Genesi in collaboration with UNXD: What UNXD claims is the first luxury NFT collection involving both digital and physical products, as well as privileged access to future events. When purchasing a package, the owner receives both the physical and digital items and access to future Dolce & Gabbana couture shows. NFTs can be real assets when brands use them this way, as they can encourage the buyer to engage with the fashion brand long-term and encourage brand loyalty.
In addition, Dolce & Gabbana has launched the DGFamily NFT community. As Dolce & Gabbana did, brands can launch communities as a way to provide access to real, exclusive opportunities such as early access to limited-edition drops or events. Ultimately, brands can make owning an NFT a privilege to cultivate the luxury mindset.
Accept cryptocurrency payments.
It has become undeniable to me that it’s in the best interest of brands to explore ways to adopt blockchain technology and accept cryptocurrencies as an alternative payment method.
Indeed, the blockchain can be helpful in protecting the authenticity of luxury goods. Two main benefits it could provide are preventing brands from counterfeiting products and reassuring customers that they are buying the right product. The system of tracking and tracing that can be developed on the blockchain may also help reduce operating costs in retail fashion by providing better data management and supply chain management capabilities. As an example, the Aura Blockchain Consortium was launched in 2021; it gathers leading labels such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Cartier to provide their consumers with product history and authentication for luxury goods through blockchain solutions.
Finally, luxury brands like Hublot, Gucci and Balenciaga have started accepting cryptocurrencies as a method of payment; this may help them attract customers interested in these currencies and who have money invested in cryptocurrencies. We’re now also seeing marketplaces such as Farfetch joining the movement.
Although the metaverse seems to be a very challenging phenomenon for the industry, it offers brands a few opportunities for development and the possibility to remain relevant and meaningful in the digital world. Event activations are one way they can do so; brands can also explore the blockchain and its derivatives, i.e., cryptocurrencies and NFTs. On a different note, we could wonder how the metaverse could evolve toward the fashion industry on its own; in other words, could metaverse creators, for instance, create new digital platforms entirely dedicated to showcasing fashion?