By: ALLIE MILLS
Dressing your avatar in virtual luxury? Say what? This growing trend in the digital space is gaining momentum. Let’s check out what’s in store for your pixelated doppelgänger.
Instead of attending Miami Fashion Week in person, imagine sending your avatar dressed in cutting-edge fashion from the comfort of your computer. And still make heads turn. That’s what happened at this year’s annual event. In June 2022, Metaverse Group, an NFT-based metaverse real estate company, collaborated with Miami Fashion Week to host events in the metaverse, a space called Fashion Street Estate. Outfits, also known as skins, were as fashion-forward as those on display IRL (in real life) at the Frost Science and Nader Museums. The virtual experience had fashion shows, avatar models, and catwalks. And attendees were able to purchase virtual goods via links with — get this — real money. And a lot of it. Naturally, many luxury brands are hopping into the game. Literally.
Avatar attendees at Miami Fashion Week might have been dressed in Balenciaga, Gucci, or Giuseppe Zanotti. These luxury brands dominate digital fashion right now. In 2020, Balenciaga used the popular video game “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” to present its Fall 2021 Collection. Last September, it announced a strategic partnership with Fortnite — one of the leading games in the metaverse — to present a collection of digital wearables. It was the first time in Fortnite’s history for this kind of posh alliance.
The Balenciaga store in Fortnite looks similar tobrand’s flagship in the Design District, and you can shop the clothes virtually in an area called Retail Row. And as the line between virtual and real life continues to blur, Balenciaga designed a limited-edition series of physical products with Fortnite too, available in stores and online. Think hoodies and hats emblazoned with the game’s logo.
Not to be outdone, Gucci has joined forces with platforms like Roblox, The Sims, and Genies to create looks for the platforms’ avatars. Have you heard of Gucci Town? If you haven’t, your teen relative has. In May 2022, Gucci Town became the new gathering spot on Roblox. It’s a “virtual piazza” and a “dynamic destination to discover the kaleidoscopic vision of [creative director] Alessandro Michele, express one’s own individuality, and connect with like-minded individuals from all over the world,” according to the brand’s announcement.
In Gucci Town, South Floridians will find the Gucci Shop, a boutique where they can purchase limited-edition digital collectibles like archive-inspired Gucci Blondie bags. A bragging right for many — that is, if you can score one. This Roblox-only shop is like a virtual counterpart to a brick-and-mortar store at Aventura Mall.
This is only the beginning. Last year, Gucci partnered with Superplastic to start Supergucci. Supergucci is a series of ultra-limited NFTs co-created by Michele and Superplastic’s synthetic artists Janky & Guggimon. Limited to 500 hand-numbered pieces, each NFT incorporates house codes found in the Gucci Aria collection. They made $3.5 million off the first drop. It was so successful that they did another three-part virtual product drop together in February.
For those of you reading this with minds blown, you may not realize that in popular virtual reality games like Second Life, Decentraland, or Animal Crossing, avatars can be identical to our human selves. Our digital twins, if you will. In Decentraland, a 3D virtual world browser-based platform, people spend real money to buy and sell land, houses and now Avatar wearables. These players load up on the top digital goods with their real-world greenbacks to support what is known as “the ethereum blockchain.” In fact, Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week took place only a few months before Miami Fashion Week. There, Giuseppe Zanotti officially entered the blockchain ecosystem in partnership with the NFT community DeadFellaz. The designer, in collaboration with hip-hop artist Young Thug, released 1,000 limited digital-only designs of their famed COBRAS sneaker. The lucky players who snagged them can now express their individuality by dressing their avatar in these limited-edition wearable sneakers. “The 3D snake that wraps around the shoe’s body symbolizes power and transformation, embodying the spirit of this collaboration,” said Zanotti.
The real ones will set you back $1,190. So getting them virtually is much more affordable. And while the physical-first fashion industry is still dominating, Miami may soon be running on the digital-first fashion gear. Game on!