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  • Writer's pictureEugenie Mae

Virtual clothes and gaming: Fashion is still excited about the metaverse

Whoever said that the metaverse was already a has-been? Certainly not the luxury fashion industry, who's continuing to roll out initiatives for this parallel world to blur the boundaries between real and virtual. One year after the name change from Facebook to Meta, here are the latest developments testifying to the fashion industry's infatuation with this new world of avatars.

After having explored the infinite possibilities offered by NFTs from top to bottom, the fashion industry seems to be investing in its positioning when it comes to digital fashion and gaming. These are two playgrounds that it has been experimenting with for over a year now, but where activity now seems to be ramping up. The latest launches of luxury brands like Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, H&M, and Gucci revolve around these virtual worlds. This would seem to be a tentative step forward, but it is certain to show a growing interest in an entire industry for these futuristic practices and milieus.

The winning duo of virtual fashion and gaming

The latest Metaverse Fashion Trend Report by Roblox, published in early November, reveals that Generation Z nowadays gives as much importance to virtual fashion as to physical – or 'real' – fashion. A revelation that gives brands and luxury labels something to think about, as they try to win the favours of this key target market whose purchasing power keeps growing over the years, it's not surprising to realise renewed interest from the entire industry for virtual wear of all kinds, that continue to gain ground.

After Balenciaga in 2021, followed by Moncler and Armani Beauty, it is now the Ralph Lauren label that has announced a partnership with popular game 'Fortnite' (Epic Games), with the key collection "Polo Stadium Ralph Lauren." It's an opportunity for the luxury brand to present digital clothing and accessories, which can be transposed in the real world, to some 350 million potential players (the number of registered users in 2022). Balmain meanwhile has announced a partnership with the video game "Need for Speed" (Electronic Arts) with the introduction of some of its latest creations in digital versions.

At the same time, Dolce & Gabbana has teamed up with Mkers, this time focusing on e-sports through the 'gooDGame' project. Beyond initiatives created around the practice of e-sports, the Italian house has also created a collection, although this time exclusively for gamers, as well as a web series of eight episodes produced by Frank by Frame. Once again, this is a way to gain attention from gaming enthusiasts if not their business, the majority of whom belong to Gen Z.

H&M also aims to make its metaverse mark, although more modestly, with the Innovation Metaverse Design Story collection, to be discovered from December 8. Although it is a physical collection, it will be available for virtual fitting sessions thanks to five augmented reality filters designed with the Institute of Digital Fashion. A first initiative for the ready-to-wear giant, showing – yet again – that interest in the metaverse is coming from absolutely all segments of the fashion industry.

At the frontier between real and virtual

In its report, Roblox states that three quarters of Generation Z (Americans) devote part of their budget to virtual fashion, changing their style according to their moods and feelings (53%), and even according to where they happen to find themselves in the metaverse (37%) and their activity there. The transposition of real life into this parallel universe is therefore no longer the stuff of science fiction, proving even more strongly the potential of digital clothing.

And this seems set to strengthen in the weeks and months to come. While more than 62 million virtual clothes and accessories were designed on Roblox in 2022, the platform also announced a partnership with the prestigious Parsons School of Design involving a course on the creation of digital clothes, as well as on the relationship between physical and digital fashion – collaboration that says a lot about fashion's interest in these new virtual worlds.

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