Fashion February 15, 2023
Dubai’s Metaverse Mall Announced at World Government Summit
Dubai has built on its commitment to become one of the world’s top metaverse economies by announcing its first virtual mall. The Mall of the Metaverse will live within the Decentraland virtual platform and is open to shoppers “seeking increased digital experiences across retail, entertainment and leisure offerings.”
The announcement was made at the World Government Summit, a meeting of thought leaders, global experts, and decision-makers developing tools, policies, and models that shape future governments.
A Step Ahead of Online Shopping
Although it is currently in the development stage, several retail units have already been confirmed for the virtual reality mall, including supermarket giant Carrefour, VOX Cinemas, THAT Concept Store, Ghawali, and the Samsung Store. Additional vendors will be confirmed in due course.
“Our swift consumer observations, followed by an action plan and a series of testing stages, has led to a fully-fledged project that is a step ahead of online shopping,” enthused Fatima Zada, director of Omnichannels and Digital at Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Malls, which is leading the venture.
“For us at Majid Al Futtaim, it is key to keep an eye on user and shopper behaviours and how they evolve overtime,” added Khalifa Bin Braik, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Asset Management.
“We want to find new ways of creating memorable moments every day – and we’re ready to deliver that even on a network of platforms as huge as the metaverse.”
Many believe that the metaverse has the potential to enhance the way we shop online. This could manifest in many different ways. For example, instead of looking at products on a screen, your avatar could “try them on” in the metaverse. Shoppers could also explore a three-dimensional virtual store and see how products look in person before they buy them, and take trips with friends or family members navigating the same stores via their own digital selves.
This vision of a more immersive, realistic shopping experience is part of the reason why the metaverse is expected to be a $13 trillion industry by the end of the decade, with fashion and luxury retail expected to represent around $50 billion of that figure.
Many major brands have already moved onto this space, leveraging the power of web3 to enhance the customer journey and promote higher engagement. Sportswear giant Nike, for example, has its own metaverse space on Roblox (Nikeland) where users can buy and wear virtual gear, while the likes of Ralph Lauren and Chanel were recently featured within Bloomingdale’s Emperai-powered virtual world.
Ultimately, forward-looking brands will be looking to sell both physical and digital products within their avatar-driven VR/XR stores, opening up new frontiers for experiential e-commerce. The term “phygital” has already emerged to describe the ongoing integration of both digital and physical experiences.
Gucci uses Metaverse as a Product Testing Ground
Fashion houses such as Gucci and Burberry are leveraging the metaverse to test out new products and build stronger relationships with their audience.
The practice is changing the way clothing brands interact with their customers, as the metaverse becomes a virtual proving ground for new looks and styles.
Gucci does the metaverse
At the tail end of last year, Gucci embarked on a new strategy with Forever 21, its teen-focused offshoot. A range of new products from flared trousers to strappy crop tops were part of the new line the company created, but the item that proved most popular was a pink hat with the word ‘forever’ written in all caps across the front.
The hat, like all of the other clothing, was a solely digital item sold inside the metaverse. The beanie cost Gucci only around $500 to create and sell on the gaming platform, Roblox. The simple forever-hat retailed at under a dollar and sold over 1 million units. It is little surprise therefore that Gucci decided to manufacture the item for real, allowing Roblox players to match their online avatars.
Jacob Hawkins, the chief marketing and digital officer of Forever 21, explained their strategy.
“[We can] spot trends that our customers are loving and find entirely new ways to design and retail our products,” he told FT in a recent interview
It’s not just Gucci that has noticed the possibilities of marking in the digital realm. Burberry is one of the big names which has also made the leap.
In November Burberry introduced its signature tartan check to the world of Minecraft. The visual style of the brand and Minecraft made for a natural fit.
The project came in two stages. Burberry first made digital skins or outfits available to players to incorporate into their avatars. Then Burberry launched a collection of clothes inspired by the blocky graphics of Minecraft.
Phillip Hennche, Burberry’s director of channel innovation, says the crossover created huge interest for the product. Research firm Launchmetrics calculates that the strategy netted a cool $5.2 million.
These successful experiments demonstrate a workable use case for the metaverse according to Alison Bringé, Launchmetrics’ chief marketing officer.
“If you can’t buy a Gucci handbag in the real world, you can spend $5 to buy one in the metaverse,” she says. Once customers have the virtual product they are increasingly keen to own the real thing when they can purchase it. “This is a gateway to building that relationship with the consumer.”
Where Burberry and Gucci have already tread, others are now following. Around half of all French luxury brands are experimenting with the metaverse. Major brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta have formed a metaverse group to work on the space together.
The retail market
It is not just high fashion brands that are realizing the important marketing effects of the metaverse. Retail stores are exploring the crossover appeal of metaverse marketing.
High street chain ZARA recently launched its own collection of NFTs that includes bags, earrings, cuddly toys, and clothes. ZARA further offered jewelry items and nail styles. Some of the items that ZARA offers are metaverse only while others are manufactured to hit those all-important crossover consumers.
Meanwhile, on the magazine side of the fashion world, Vogue Singapore recently launched a metaverse event to mark Valentine’s day with the requisite collection of NFTs.
In every corner of the fashion world, wherever you look, there are clear indications that the metaverse is a valuable endeavor with real benefits.
Metaverse Tokens Plunge More than 90% in Value in Industry-Wide Bloodbath
Metaverse tokens with more than $1 billion in market capitalization plunged more than 90% in value throughout 2022 due to an industry-wide tanking of the crypto and metaverse markets.
Among them, ApeCoin (APE), Flow (FLOW), The Sandbox (SAND), Decentraland (MANA), Axie Infinity (AXS), Enjin Coin (ENJ), and Internet Computer (ICP) which brought so many gains to sophisticated and unsophisticated traders and investors in 2021 were hit hardest.
Also read: Metaverse Investing: Tokens or Stocks?
APE, the novel token of the ApeCoin ecosystem built on the success of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and its sister project the Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) and the Bored Ape Kennel Club (BAKC) shed 90% of its value in 2022.
APE was launched on March 17, 2022, and reached a peak of $39.40 on the same day. A total of 150 million APE was airdropped from March to mid-June to BAYC and MAYC NFT holders to help promote the coin to millions of traders and investors.
Ape and Gucci collaborates
Eventually, APE gained the support of major exchanges such as Binance, OKX, BitMart, Coinbase Pro, and Huobi Global among more than 60 crypto trading platforms.
As the primary token which will be overseeing all future activities in the ApeCoin ecosystem which includes the Otherside Metaverse and upcoming blockchain-based games, APE was accepted by fashion brand Gucci in August as a payment option for its products through a partnership with blockchain payment technology BitPay.
Aside from Gucci, TIME Magazine also accepted ApeCoin as payment for digital subscribers earlier in the year.
Despite these milestones, the collapse of TerraUSD (UST), an algorithmic stablecoin by Terraform Labs did not help the fortunes of the token in May. FTXs collapse and subsequent bankruptcy in November plunged APE further into deep losses for investors that bought the token during its peak. On Dec.31, APE was exchanging hands for $3.64, ten times below its yearly high.
The Flow blockchain has been an integral part of the non-fungible token (NFT) industry as well as the transition into the metaverse. Unlike other blockchains such as Ethereum, Algorand, and Avalanche that has multiple use cases, Flow is primarily tailored to the needs of NFTs.
After opening at $8.80 on Jan. 1, Dapper Labs, the development team behind the protocol finally launched NFL ALL DAY in a partnership with the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) in August.
NBA Top Shot highlights NFT platform
NFL ALL DAY which is similar to NBA Top Shot is an exclusive digital video highlight NFT platform that allows fans to buy, own, and trade officially licensed digital video highlights NFTs called Moments. These moments feature some of the greatest NFL players and most sought-after plays in the modern game and throughout the sport’s history.
While NFL ALL DAY added more than $70 million to the total NFT sales on the Flow blockchain in 2022, its sister project in the form of the NBA’s Top Shot failed to impress. Top Shot’s total sales of approximately $211 million throughout 2022 were below February 2021’s $224 million.
With decreasing sales due to falling global NFT market sales, traders responded negatively to FLOW. After reaching a peak of $9.44 on Jan. 2, FLOW closed 2022 with a new price of $0.6535, a 93% plunge in market capitalization from $2.9 billion to $677 million.
Metaverse Token the Sandbox (SAND) Was Not Spared
The Sandbox began 2022 strong with a trading price of $5.85. During the first month of 2022, the Sandbox announced a $50 million fund for what it called its startup metaverse accelerator program. Projects were allotted $250,000 in investments and additional incentives were given to the top-performing projects and this included The Sandbox (SAND) digital asset and LAND, a digital real estate housed in The Sandbox’s metaverse.
The Sandbox became a behemoth metaverse platform in 2022 as Warner Music Group partnered with the platform to create music-themed LAND in January.
Aside from this, the Sandbox partnered with another NFT project called the World of Women to drive the mentorship of females through education in March.
Within the same month, multinational universal bank and financial services holding company HSBC entered the metaverse via the Sandbox to offer educational finance games to its clients.
Several new metaverse platforms saw the light
The second half of the year saw new partnerships formed with the latest coming through Playboy. Playboy announced in July that it will be creating a MetaMansion social game inside the Sandbox with NFT collectibles and special experiences for the Playboy community.
Despite the new milestones other metaverse platforms will be envious of, the damage done by Terra and later FTX which culminated in the search for Do Kwon and the arrest of Sam Bankman-Friend respectively reflected negatively in the value of SAND, the novel token of the Sandbox.
While the Sandbox brought in more than $90 million in NFT sales in 2022, there was a significant decline of 93% in SAND’s price from a peak of $6.01 on Jan. 1 to $0.383 on Dec. 31.
Other coins followed along down
Other metaverse coins such as MANA, AXS, ENJ, and ICP also saw double-digit percentage losses throughout 2022.
ICP, the cryptocurrency of Internet Computer, a project which aims to decentralize everything on the internet plunged by 83%.
ENJ, the novel token of Enjin Coin, an ecosystem of interconnected blockchain-based gaming products shed 90% of its value while AXS, the native asset of Axie Infinity, the highest-selling NFT by all-time sales also went down by 93% due to a drop in the average sale value of Axie NFTs.
MANA, the token behind Decentraland, a virtual destination for the buying and selling of virtual land, estate, and avatars also plummeted by 90% due to an industry-wide bloodbath that has wiped more than $2 trillion off the total market capitalization of the entire decentralized finance market.
Metaverse Fashion Week Hits the Digital Catwalk This Spring
Decentraland is set to host the Spring Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) in March, the second such fashion week in the virtual environment.
Earlier this year Decentraland hosted 108,000 people at the first-ever MVFW. Luxury fashion brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Selfridges, Guo Pei and Paco Rabanne took part in the landmark event.
Now Decentraland and its partners, including the non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace UNXD, is seeking to repeat the trick next year. This time the two will collaborate with the Spatial and OVER metaverses to seek out a wider audience.
“After our successful first season with Decentraland, we’re thrilled to be expanding the MVFW platform together to encompass additional metaverses,” said Shashi Menon, Co-Founder and CEO of UNXD.
Digital fashion makes a strong use case
Fashion-conscious metizens minted over 165,000 free NFT wearables at the previous MVFW suggesting strong demand for digital wearables.
Now Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, the head of MVFW, argues that digital fashion is providing one of the strongest use cases for the metaverse.
“I am incredibly honored to be leading the second annual Metaverse Fashion Week and cannot wait to show the world what has developed since the last time we showcased the fashion revolution in the metaverse on a grand stage,” said Dr. Casimiro.
“Within one year, we have shown the world one of the strongest and most obvious use cases for the metaverse yet—digital fashion. After all, we don’t all want to look like dull copies of the same avatar in our digital lives. Just like in the real world, we all want to individualize and curate the personal aesthetics that we are recognized for.”
The theme of Spring MVFW is ‘Future Heritage,’ which is illustrative of how the event is seeking to connect traditional fashion houses with emerging creative talent.
Metaverse fashion week hits the catwalk
MVFW will hit the luxury fashion district of Decentraland between March 28-31, 2023. The event will see internationally recognizable fashion houses return to the catwalk in the Decentraland fashion arena.
Those who wish to register for the event can do so here.
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