What is 'metaverse'? ... or the question, more accurately stated, is this: what is a metaverse?
Because there can be many metaverses and, indeed, there are already a multitude in existence!
A metaverse is basically a completely contained virtual or digital world.
In this virtual world, everything exists that would exist in the real world ... plus more. You have real estate to buy or land to build on, you can own a pet or a farm of animals, you can own a business and sell goods and services, you can go to events, you can make friends.
And last but not least, you can express yourself through fashion - metaverse fashion.
In a metaverse, of which there are many that are already alive and kicking and available to participate in, you operate through your avatar. This is basically a representation of yourself, your virtual self, sometimes known as a 'digital twin'
If you are familiar with playing video games you will know what an avatar is and how closely you can start to associate with it and its adventures in digital space.
In the metaverse, as there is so much more to do and get lost in, your avatar becomes even more 'alive' and central to your experience.
Just as we care so much about what our clothes are saying about us and the statement we are making IRL, when meeting people and creating impressions in this new world, becoming a digital fashion superstar and having an exciting choice of virtual fashion in your digital closet is the next frontier.
For fashion designers, fashion brands, whether luxury brands or emerging brands, digital clothing and NFT fashion, available to buy for use in the metaverse, comprises the new world of fashion - the fashion metaverse, in many ways, represents the future of the fashion industry 2.0.
This year has been almost like a launch of this metaverse fashion industry; especially with luxury fashion making a splash by taking the metaverse 'high fashion'.
The very first metaverse fashion week was held in Decentraland in March - an event as unmissable and 'needed to be at' as any fashion week in real life.
In real-time, we were able to see virtual fashion shows from brands like Philipp Plein (an early adopter of everything fashion NFT related). Philipp Plein showcased his NFT collection in the Decentraland metaverse, in a virtual space that rivalled any catwalk in London, Paris or Milan.
The space is called 'Plein Plaza' and was purchased for over a million real-world dollars (!) and also houses an NFT museum and is a space where they have plans to build many more exciting venues.
Estée Lauder was also another brand featuring in the digital fashion week, and used NFTs in an interesting way to promote their brand based on the brand’s top-selling serum, Advanced Night Repair. Users were able to step inside the bottle and claim one NFT that gave their avatar a glowing, radiant aura inspired by the serum.
A lot of fun and amusement and plenty of creativity, for sure.
However, this is just the start.
Expect a regular digital fashion week in the future, we doubt this will be a one-off event. There are simply too many opportunities to connect with consumers in new ways and also opportunities to link digital and physical fashion through metaverse events, such as this one.
So far Decentraland is leading the way as a high fashion metaverse and seems to be the one which brands are crowding around and converging on, but it is still early days.
Mark Zuckerberg has launched his metaverse in the US and it is soon to be in the UK and Europe. He has also recently launched his take on metaverse fashion by bringing on board iconic, 'fashion darling' brands such as Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne to dress the avatars of his world.
Although there is a mixed reaction to Zucks take on the metaverse, as well as the fashion created for the avatars, there is no doubt that with Meta being such a leading tech company, they will be able to shape the future of what happens, to an extent.
We say 'to an extent' ... as the battle for the best and biggest metaverse is still wide open. There are metaverses still being built and which many people are betting will be amazing.
There is Sandbox, which is very popular, and also old metaverses such as Second Life, which are coming back to life and may well have a revival and resurgence.
And then there are games, which are not metaverses per se, but are so long-running and loved by fans, that the gamers feel as though it is a world, their world, - and they need new clothes for them.
Each of these digital worlds is separate at the moment which is a problem for the buyer of fashion NFTs because they cannot be worn in different metaverses.
However, there are plans for this to change and it is anticipated that a solution will be found so that when you buy a fashion NFT you will be able to wear it in multiple arenas, for example, Web 2 like Instagram and TikTok through augmented reality, and also in Web 3 - i.e. metaverses and virtual reality.
This is when things become exciting and digital fashion starts to become not just a plaything or fun toy but a very useful asset. Something we will need as much as real-world fashion as we start to live increasingly in the metaverse.
As time goes by, we will move more fluidly between the two - for example, we may attend a work conference in Decentraland and then go for drinks with work colleagues at a local real world pub ... or vice versa. And as the real world and metaverse develop synergies and the metaverse developes real use cases, so will metaverse fashion.
As always watch this space!