In the year After a high-profile appearance in 2022, Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week will soon light up virtual stores and runways again, with the second installment set for March 28 to 31.
Details have been sparse since virtual-world platform and partner NFT marketplace UNXD announced the fashion event in December. WWD reached out to Decentraland to learn more about what’s on tap, as well as some of the featured brands and organizations heading to MVFW 2023.
The curatorial theme may be “heritage of the future,” but there’s another one that takes a big swing at a problem that plagues different styles: They don’t often work together. An earlier press release mentions the interaction, as another one will be released sometime on Monday.
According to the first press release seen by WWD, the show “demonstrates the potential for collaboration between open metaverses and pushes the boundaries of what digital fashion means.”
Giovanna Casimiro, producer of Decentraland Metaverse, who runs the fashion week, explained in an interview with WWD.
One of the main values in the first edition was to try to unite designers and expand the possibilities of aesthetics and brands. So after the first issue, we decided to go in the metaverse,” she explained. “When we talk about extending communication, it’s starting to collaborate with other universes and variables to create an agenda. [that’s] Cross platform.
As an example, she pointed to the group’s official partnership with virtual-world platforms Spatial and Beyond. The latter, Metaverse, which specializes in augmented reality, has been working with Decentraland on a cross-platform wearable design competition, and the winners will be featured in a hybrid AR/IRL. [”in real life”] catwalk at the four-day event in Milan. Other metaverses are interested in connecting concurrent agendas or satellite events to MVFW, Casamiro added.
Interoperability also extends to NFTs, a big change for wearables compared to last year’s event. At the time, brands were unable to connect external NFTs to their virtual garments in Decentraland. Since then, the developers have worked on this feature, and in September, Dolce and Gabbana – a former and returning MVFW brand – specifically highlighted the Disco Drip NFTs by linking them to Decentraland wearables, allowing owners to wear them for a virtual night out. City.
This tie-in works with NFTs alongside a physical product, simplifying how brands can deliver avatar-ready real-world fashion twins. Some of that effort may be aimed at Boson Protocol, a marketplace for so-called “phygmatic” goods, which is another former and returning MVFW participant.
“There’s a particular case of Rubin Singer,” says Casamiro, referring to the couture designer. “This year he is collaborating with Asian designers to create a digital piece. So it’s creating a digital twin for physical clothing. [this event] But especially this year, I think different brands will try to bring that angle.
A different relationship between the real and virtual worlds is at work, and instead comes in a heartfelt form: Vuelta’s artists collective plans to honor the late Vivienne Westwood by paying her own tribute to the “Queen of Punk Fashion”. The installation is part souvenir, part gaming experience. According to Vuelta founder Bay Buckner, the goal is to encourage people to learn more about the designer’s life and work.
“We created this installation around the concept of ‘Dear Vivienne,’ which is a letter to us as artists, thanking her for her wonderful style and movement,” Backner told WWD. There are different aspects, but they all work together.
According to her, the installation is spread over three floors of the building itself and is meant to take visitors on a tour of Westwood life. The game also does a designer-based code-breaking puzzle. “So The Code Challenge takes people through the life and achievements of Vivienne Westwood. [encouraging them] to examine the place. The installations are references to all aspects of her career and activities.
In a different corner of Durban, another creative engine is churning with the opening of a new Fashion Plaza dedicated to emerging designers. The goal, to highlight and encourage collaboration between established brands and emerging talent, is directly related to MVFW’s “Heritage of the Future” theme.
For Casamiro, it’s a way to “bring about a more critical conversation about the future of fashion” and connect the dots between innovation, heritage and tradition. The plaza’s featured brands also reflect this, with new names like Gaian and Alo at one end and the iconic heritage brand, Coach, at the other, a luxury handbag company showing live at MVFW for the first time. Last year, he joined retailer Monier Paris, and the experience was “truly awesome,” Coach’s vice president of global brand marketing and digital experience René Klein told WWD. But that participation was limited.
Now the coach goes out on his own. The brand plans to highlight its signature product, the Tabby bag, and hopes that Plaza Web 3.0 will inspire artists to create.
The experimental nature of this effort speaks to the coach’s broader view of measurement, as an environment of experimentation and learning. “We were really trying to better understand and explore how people engage with brands on these different platforms,” Klein said. “There are these new places that are taking time share, interest share. The most important thing for us during this testing exercise is to better understand what it means to someone in this environment, to be a brand and how to engage with them.
The company’s plans include a location or pop-up, though probably not a store selling products, Klein said. Coach was still finalizing details at the press conference, so it’s unclear if virtual swag or freebies will be part of the mix. The token is no stranger to NFTs, so it can offer POAPs, as well as proof-of-attendance tokens or wearables as rewards just for visiting.
For many fashion brands, such as Coach, today’s exchange is not about transactions, but experiences, and these are expanding in exciting ways. Decentraland’s Casamiro observed that brands are actively looking for ways to connect virtual and real-world events, with some looking to offer Decentraland’s video feed in their physical stores. Designer Vivienne Tam recently did the same thing for New York Fashion Week, but in both directions: Spring Studio audiences could watch her virtual show, while Metaverse guests saw her live stream of the real-world event.
The MVFW producer is a fan of this type of thinking. “The value of the metaverse is when the metaverse emerges from its own place, from its own existence. Because if everyone just goes to the fantasy and stays there, if they don’t come back, the experience is not complete. I’m a big believer that we need to create those immersive hybrid experiences.
Of course, the next virtual fashion week won’t benefit from the NFT and metaverse hype that the first enjoyed when the trends were at their peak. Since then, the mood has softened, and that hasn’t escaped Casamiro, who admits the number of brands this year is lower than last year.
That may be true, but many go to the luxury district, Fashion Plaza and other zones – from DressX, Perry Ellis and Tommy Hilfiger to Dolce & Gabbana – and the virtual fashion week still attracts new participants like Coach. Adidas will also join for the first time.
Activewear giant plans to unveil “Adidas Virtual Gear,” its first-ever digital apparel collection, an exclusive, community-centric experience for ITM owners, “Into the Metaverse” NFTs, and Decentraland users.
Next month, MVFW will also welcome its first internationally recognized fashion week as a participant, with plans to host Miami Fashion Week events and runway shows around the world at L’Atelier.
The newcomers join returning brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, a company experienced in embracing technology and new digital platforms. In other words, Tommy is not playing with his metaverse strategy. The MVFW presentation will include unique NFTs and PoPs, collaborative work with Web 3.0 artist and wearables, fashion design competition using AI, integrated features, portals in the structure that open access to other entities, virtual experiments of AR filters, selfie booth for social sharing and more.
“Metavas is a unique space that allows us to play with different elements to surprise and engage the consumer,” said Avery Baker, Tommy Hilfiger Global President and Chief Brand Officer. “Our four-day launch will further expand the boundaries of the multi-story space that illuminates the platform. We offer audiences something new to engage with daily and interactive production experiences that connect the community across multiple platforms.