The Market of the Future?

In 2022, investors have already poured more than $3.8 billion into blockchain-related startups, surpassing even last year’s (total $ invested: 17.9B) record pace. What does fashion have to do with it?

Key Takeaways

  1. Web3 promotes decentralization, openness, and excellent user utility, subverting the digital basics from the first and second stages of the web (Web1 = read, Web2 = read and write, Web3 = read, write and own).
  2. In 2022, it's predicted there will be 1.1 billion mobile AR users worldwide, and by 2024, 34 million VR headset installations.
  3. Starting on the 24th of March 2022, the first-ever fashion week will be hosted on the metaverse platform, Decentraland. Visitors can even buy and wear digital clothing from catwalk avatars as NFTs.

With the next internet iteration, the fashion market should expect massive disruptions catapulting it into a new digital age. Web3 promotes decentralization, openness, and excellent user utility, subverting the digital basics from the first and second stages of the web (Web1 = read, Web2 = read and write, Web3 = read, write and own). All of which will lead to never seen before digital capabilities—the metaverse included.

Needless to say, fashion isn't exempt from digital evolution. For instance, the virtual-social sphere, “the metaverse,” is already a staging site of a brand new fashion movement. Virtual avatars exceed the physical limitations of the human form, allowing for creative expression never seen before.  However, while virtual platforms don’t yet hold up to real-life events, the metaverse gives brands and fashion enthusiasts a chance to interact in a global space without real-world restrictions. With the rising favor of virtual reality, digital events (and products) are becoming increasingly realistic. Of course, it goes without saying this creates a novel canvas for fashion events.

Image courtesy of haltakov.eth

In 2022, it's predicted there will be 1.1 billion mobile AR users worldwide, and by 2024, 34 million VR headset installations. When you couple these stats with the fact that in 2021 almost $41 billion worth of crypto was spent on NFT marketplaces, it's safe to say that no consumer-centric industry will be unaffected.

With all this change afoot, brands are starting to see the value of investing in all-new digital spaces. As a result, they're creating more and more virtual products for customers. For example, last year, Nike acquired a non-fungible token studio that produces digital collectibles, including digital sneakers.

The concept of dressing up digital avatars is nothing new. Millions of gamers worldwide have purchased accessories, clothing, and skins for their digital characters. The same goes for digital social spaces where fashion is integral to the user experience - for instance, 3D chat IMVU, released in 2004. This brand successfully monetized digital avatar clothing years ago!

Adidas Originals Into the Metaverse initiative

Fast forward to today, and the digital clothing market is now reaching the mainstream with the metaverse. Companies like Nike, Adidas, and Vans are betting that fashion in gaming will skyrocket in popularity. In fact, Nike has filed seven new trademark applications that suggest the brand is planning to further produce virtual accessories, clothing, and footwear. As for Adidas, it launched a sell-out limited edition NFT in collaboration with Bored Ape Yacht Club, gmoney, and PUNKS comic. In the case of Vans, the company has launched its “Vans World” skatepark interactive experience in partnership with Roblox. Here, Vans fans can customize their own shoes and build their perfect board. 

Starting on the 24th of March 2022, the first-ever fashion week will be hosted on the metaverse platform, Decentraland. The virtual event spans four days and invites thousands of visitors and dozens of global brands to enjoy various activities, including virtual fashion shows, live music sessions, and even branded after parties. Digital visitors can even buy and wear digital clothing from catwalk avatars as NFTs. In addition, some brands will offer physical counterparts for customers to buy.

The set design, soundtrack, and atmosphere that makes real-life fashion weeks so special won't be missing from the digital variant. UNXD, which has worked with Dolce & Gabbana on its NFTs, is helping to curate the programming. This virtual event isn't like anything seen in previous years, i.e., just an alternative to real-life events that couldn’t take place. Instead, it's the first official virtual fashion week of its kind.

Image courtesy of DressX


The moral of the story? Digital fashion spaces are gaining popularity, and designer brands are taking them increasingly seriously. For example, Gucci and Ralph Lauren have already opened popup spaces in Roblox. The metaverse presents all-new opportunities for a new creative potential. For example, browsing DressX, an online marketplace for digital fashion, reveals trends the physical world could never sustain. For instance, transparent garments, glow effects, dresses made from fire, and other elements are just some of the ideas on offer. In addition, the metaverse enables users to change their avatars in ways that surpass the physical world. For example, users can change their proportions, add details like wings or tails, change their complexion and gender, and much more.

It's also worth noting that launching a digital fashion brand doesn’t require the same start-up funds. New digital designers can enter this revolutionary fashion market without the restrictions posed on traditional fashion houses. After all, there's no need to manufacture physical wares, store inventory, or worry about material constraints, making this industry appealing to many fashion entrepreneurs.

The world is watching the metaverse with bated breath, and we predict there will be no shortage of innovations in the next year that might well change the face of fashion for good.