Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) offered a key element missing from its physical counterparts. Beyond the digital shows and virtual parties that ran from March 24-27, the event featured a premier official display for retail – purpose-built pop-up stores by luxury stalwarts like Selfridges, Tommy Hilfiger, Etro, Dolce & Gabbana and Dundas World.
Mostly located in temporary malls, these offered an NFT clothing suit to dress up one’s avatar in Metaverse Decentraland (DCL) and limited-edition physical coins redeemable via NFT – both purchasable only in cryptocurrency. The latter’s draw being that DCL was the only place to get them.
These stores also served as a showcase for physical collections with clicks to the brands’ usual e-commerce sites.
Users were directed to the DCL Marketplace to purchase the DCL-specific clothes that their avatars could actually try on to see what they looked like – both static and in motion – which is a neat touch.
The enabling technology created by fintech firm Boston Protocol meant that NFT “receipts” for physical coins were available directly from stores of participating brands like Hilfiger and Hogan.
While many retailers took advantage of the pop-up spaces offered free of charge for the duration of Metaverse Fashion Week, Philipp Plein opted to purchase “real estate” for longer-term installation.
He bought $1.4 million worth of land from DCL to build a 120-foot-tall skyscraper and “Plein Plaza” where he once opened a gallery dubbed the Museum of NFT Arts (MONA). He hosted a show on the property on MVFW, showcasing a Metaverse-only collection of seven digital outfits for avatars to rock in DCL. Among them was a matching puffer jacket and bucket hat combo featuring a print featuring the ‘Lil Monsters’ characters he created with artist Antoni Tudisco.
Although the cryptocurrency is often talked about posing a barrier to sales – Selfridges and fellow British designer Roksanda Ilincic have already opted to sell NFTs in sterling – Plein sees this as a bonus. Since last year, it has given buyers of physical goods the option to pay in crypto, both in-store and online. “It was a huge success,” he said, “we take $100,000 in crypto payments every day.”
Hogan, owned by Tod’s Group, has launched a collection of NFTs in partnership with luxury marketplace NFT Exclusible. Via the aforementioned Boston Protocol technology, they are redeemable for physical sneakers made in collaboration with artists from digital creative studio Braw Haus. When the MVFW curtain falls, the Hogan store will remain in DCL for six months.
Nicholas Kirkwood offered DCL-specific digital boots made in partnership with Metaverse community character White Rabbit. Next up will be collectible NFT artwork featuring booted incarnations of said bunny. For the cobbler who has long been obsessed with technology and animation, “it’s a natural fit, almost like coming home.”
“It’s very exciting from a creative standpoint because you’re not limited by gravity and you can make the materials do really magical things,” he says. “It also opens the brand up to a whole new audience through the NFT community.”
Lively upcycled fashion brand Imitation of Christ has collaborated with NFT’s ultimate success story, Bored Ape Yacht Club on sweater dresses featuring Metaverse’s most famous apes. They also factored the political statement into their in-store visual marketing via a “no war” installation and banners expressing their support for Ukraine.
French e-commerce accessories platform Monnier Paris (formerly Monnier Frères) was an early adopter of Web 3.0, selling digital clothing created by digital native clothing group Republiqe on its own website since Last year. It launched a cryptocurrency payment option last week.
For the DCL store, Republiqe founder James Gaubert created limited-edition clothing from Monnier-worn brands like Coach, Wandler and Ester Manas. For example, users can purchase the new Coach Tabby Pillow bag for their avatars to carry or click through the virtual store to the Monnier Paris website and buy the real one.
Gaubert is optimistic about the possibilities of Web 3.0 for retail. “It’s the most exciting thing for fashion since the Singer sewing machine he joked about at Monnier’s IRL MVFW launch party in Paris.
DCL Foundation Creative Director Sam Hamilton agrees. In the future, he says, “there will be metaverses where you can try on clothes with your own face and body shape (as opposed to your avatar like on the DCL Marketplace) so you can really see how they look on you before you buy them.
For the record, at least one of the big luxury groups is currently building its own proprietary Metaverse.
Dundas World used its pop-up store and the fashion show that will close MVFW Monday at 2 a.m. EST as vehicles to showcase an IRL collection of 12 looks you can click on its e-commerce website to shop. Visual merchandising was on point and featured the brand’s signature panthers wearing diamond necklaces.
Next up will be virtual releases made by digital native fashion outfit DressX. The two brands previously collaborated on Dundas wearables for Mary J. Blige’s Super Bowl performance in January. Don’t miss the next episode at next week’s Grammy Awards.
Another celebrity-friendly designer who participated was Giuseppe Zanotti. While he doesn’t have his own store, he’s teamed up with NFT collective DeadFellaz and fashion marketplace Neuno on a run of 1,000 digital wearables of his signature Cobra sneaker done in a zingy budgie green colorway.
Estée Lauder was the only beauty brand to participate. To promote her acclaimed Night Repair Serum, she had creative director Alex Box design a free glow aura that avatars could command from Estée’s MVFW Activation Space via a giant dropper based on the bottle. IRL. Essentially, it just involved the kind of glittery filter you might get on Instagram, but it was still a new way for beauty to join the conversation.
As for Selfridges, its undulating DCL building based on its physical store in Birmingham was selling nothing at all. She opted instead for an exhibition of 12 NFT dresses with Paco Rabanne inspired by the pioneer of the Op Art movement, Victor Vasarely. This reflects an actual display at Selfridges London. The UK retailer has long occupied the forefront of experiential retail in the physical space, so it only made sense for the virtual equivalent to follow suit.
According to Selfridges creative director Sebastian Manes, it is through such experimentation that the retailer continues to innovate. “This is how we test, learn and decide for the long term what works for our brand and our customers,” he said, adding that he is currently evaluating new applications for Web 3.0 blockchain technology.
One area of particular interest is within ReSelfridges, the brand’s luxury resale arm, as ledger-based technology offers a way to authenticate provenance.