Young Designers Set Sights on Metaverse Fashion
When we are subsumed into the metaverse, our digital selves will need digital wardrobes. After all, what avatar would be seen dead in some standard-issue shirt and pants? This isn’t Sim City anymore.
Digital fashion is allowing designers to create garments free from supply chain concerns, gravity, and even basic physiology. Flaming boots, gravity-defying dresses that float like octopus limbs, capes the color of galaxies, these are some of the garments that could be for sale on your local metaverse high street.
“This year we’ll have a Decentraland platform set up so users can go in and dress in the digital wearables we’ll create for them,” said Joanna Lim, founder of metaverse fashion, Made In Real Life (MIRL). “They can take our original designs like clothes, helmets, etc. and ‘wear’ it on social media like Instagram and TikTok.”
Other projects like DRESSX have a huge catalog of digital clothes at reasonable prices. You buy the item and send in a photo of yourself so the clothing can be grafted onto your picture. Surely this is the beta version of what will become garments that will be worn by our 3D avatars in virtual worlds. Digital designer Diane Wallinger “is absolutely sure that garments can generate emotions, even if they are not worn physically.”
While the designs at DRESSX are too outlandish to be sewn up and sent to your doorstep. Brands like Adidas and Gucci have paired physical clothing with digital versions that people own as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Last year, both brands released NFTs that could be redeemed for physical items.
“Adidas and Gucci are the premium brands for metaverse wearables that are top-tier audience would be interested in,” said Vaibhav Sethm CEO of metaverse fashion project Bitliberte. “Who wouldn’t love showing their new Adidas sneakers or Gucci bad in the fast-paced Metaverse world? Imagine walking through a mall in the Metaverse, buying digital wearables, and receiving on-chain proof of ownership and a unique physical deliverable.”
For metaverse fashion innovators like Seth, solving some of the fashion industry’s problems is part of the deal. Textile waste is very hard to recycle leading to 85% of all textiles thrown away in the U.S. — roughly 13 million tonnes in 2017 — being either dumped into landfills or burned, according to the BBC.
Metaverse fashion solves this by reimagining the buying process. Instead of fashion brands renting warehouses and expensive shops and filling them with inventories that create tons of surplus each year, they could create metaverse shops where people can try on clothes using virtual reality. If the buyer likes the latest jacket, it is manufactured to order and sent via post — removing the need for shops and wasteful inventories.
“Eventually, if people shop online, they will get used to augmented reality tech and try on a 3D model of the article so they don’t need a physical wearable to change into in the fitting room,” said Lim. “This will help create a more sustainable industry because only the clothes that are worn and fit will be produced.”
And it’s not just the wasteful nature of the current fashion industry the web3 cohort are trying to solve. The idea of “FashionFi” (a portmanteau of ‘fashion’ and ‘finance’) takes digital clothing one step further by addressing the finance and management side of the industry. For example, Bitliberte is creating decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) to run a string of fashion outlets in India.
“We are helping consumers to bridge the gap between physical clothes and virtual ownership on the blockchain,” said Seth. “We are creating a DAO-based ecosystem of NFTs, fashion products, metaverse assets, metaverse outlets, and physical outlets.”
Over in Singapore, MIRL is focusing on developing an incubator program where holders of their crypto token will have the right to vote on which designer’s project they want to fund. “We are empowering emerging designers,” said Lim. “Helping them to launch a fashion collection — not just NFTs — but the physical process as well.”
Metaverse mania has birthed a number of projects that have become multi-billion-dollar companies, and FashionFi could be the next big trend. When designers are backed by large crypto companies, who knows what delicious designs they will create? Now blockchain technology is offering solutions to the long-standing problems of waste and supply chain mismanagement, it looks like the fashion industry is getting the makeover it needs.
Two Start-ups Set to Take over the Metaverse with Their Outlandish Garments was originally published in Entrepreneur’s Handbook on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.