The digital realm, from Balenciaga to Nike, luxury & consumer brands rush into the virtual world for their pots of gold
Potentially THE most trending word for 2021, particularly since Facebook renamed themselves to META, “Metaverse” has been the talk of the town. We have heard top CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella right to casual users talk about it. So, what exactly is the “Metaverse”?
According to the New York Times, “The metaverse is the convergence of two ideas that have been around for many years: virtual reality and a digital second life.”
For decades, technologists have dreamed of an era when our virtual lives play as important a role as our physical realities. In theory, we would spend lots of time interacting with our friends and colleagues in virtual space. As a result, we would spend money there, too, on outfits and objects for our digital avatars.”
The Metaverse in Numbers & Interesting Facts
- The Metaverse market was worth $46 billion in 2020
- The science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’ coined the “Metaverse” phrase in 1992
- The word ‘Metaverse’ means ‘beyond the universe’
- 38 % of gamers between the age of 10 to 20 in key video game markets have played a proto-metaverse game in 2021.
- Roblox had roughly 50 million daily users in the fourth quarter of 2021.
- The hardware segment dominates the Metaverse industry, with VR gear sales are set to hit $10 billion in 2022
The word is booming, and so is its value — according to a Bloomberg report from December 2021, the metaverse market will grow to nearly $800 billion by 2024, further reinstating the rising interest in shared worlds, 3D interactions, the convergence of digital and physical worlds.
The report further goes to state that, Gaming, AR, VR create a $413 billion primary market. Within this primary market opportunity that may reach $412.9 billion in 2024 vs. $274.9 billion in 2020, software and services revenue as well as in-game advertising revenue accounts for about 70% of the total market size. Gaming hardware, including gaming PCs and peripherals and AR/VR hardware such as Facebook’s Oculus, accounts for the remainder of the primary market opportunity.
Live events, social ads can double market. The ability to bring live events such as concerts, film showings and sports into 3D virtual worlds represent additional opportunities for game makers as they elevate online experiences into 3D social worlds to capitalize on the Metaverse opportunity.
Looking good in the metaverse.
Gamers already have a long history of using clothes and accessories to establish their virtual identities, and there’s every indication that metaverse users will do the same. Executives of luxury brands are taking the trend seriously and moving quickly to capitalize on the opportunity to sell virtual versions of their products to people in the metaverse.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expects this niche to be big in the metaverse. Zuckerberg says, “Avatars will be as common as profile pictures today, but instead of a static image, they’re going to be living 3D representations of you, your expressions, your gestures that are going to make interactions much richer than anything that’s possible online today. You’ll probably have a photo realistic avatar for work, a stylized one for hanging out, and maybe even a fantasy one for gaming. You’re going to have a wardrobe of virtual clothes for different occasions designed by different creators and from different apps and experiences.”
Here’s a look at some of our favourite luxury brands that have stepped into the digital realm.
GUCCI x ROBLOX
The Italian fashion house’s NFT experiment was launched in May 2021 when Gucci unveiled its first NFT-related product. Interestingly, it wasn’t really about fashion for its centenary celebrations. It is a four-minute film, Aria, co-created by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele and director Floria Sigismondi to accompany a runway show by the former.
As part of the “Proof of Sovereignty” sale organised by Lady PheOnix, a digital artist, the film sold for USD 25,000 by art auction house Christie’s. All proceeds from the sale would go to UNICEF USA for COVID-19 vaccine initiatives.
This is not the first time Gucci stepped into the metaverse. It had unveiled one of its first ranges of digital fashion products, and it wasn’t even considered an NFT.
Last year, Louis Vuitton celebrated its second centenary. To pay homage to its founder, an adventure-based game – Louis the Game – was released.
The mobile game follows the character of Vivienne through six worlds, collecting 200 candles to commemorate the birthday of Louis Vuitton.
The brand created its own story and world to explore, similar to a role-playing game (RPG) you’d find on the PlayStation. On starting the game, you enter a world where you can run around and collect items while customizing your character in Louis Vuitton fashion wear.
To add to all of that, 30 NFTs created by artist Beeple were placed around the game for players to find.
Like many other brands, Louis Vuitton is tapping into ways it can reach younger audiences without turning them off by having to purchase anything.
However, these NFTs, unlike other blockchain games, cannot be traded on any marketplaces, making them purely digital collectables.
BALENCIAGE X FORTNITE
Like many high-end fashion brands, Balenciaga has also ventured into the metaverse and near the end of 2021 was the first to take on Fortnite. Players of the open-world video game could purchase digital outfits inspired by real-life Balenciaga pieces from its virtual boutique.
While most of the merchandise had to be purchased, some items could be unlocked, like Balenciaga’s Triple S Sneakers.The hub was live for one week only and players could hang out with each other, try on outfits in changing booths and add the brand’s merch to their inventories.
And to tie this into the real world, a series of clothing would also be available in select Balenciaga stores and website. To top it all off, fans who would buy real-life apparel could also unlock the Balenciaga outfits in Fortnite.
The British luxury fashion house collaborated with Mythical Games to launch its first NFT in the latter’s game titled Blankos Block Party. If you are a passionate collector of toys in the real world, then be assured to be hooked on to this virtual world full of vinyl toys called Blankos.
The multiplayer game allows players to buy and trade NFT toys and has several gaming modes and levels where they can enjoy completing various quests and challenges. Burberry’s limited-edition and limited-quantity NFT in this Mythical Games gaming arena is called Shark B, which is a shark figurine bearing the TB Summer logo.
The fashion house has also launched many NFT accessories that can be bought for Shark B and used on any other Blanko in this game.
NIKE x RFTKT
Sneaker enthusiasts can try on the new pieces from the Nike range, but they cannot be worn in real life. Entering the virtual NFT world, the sneaker giant acquired the digital sneaker brand RTKFT on 14 December 2021.
Established in 2020, RTKFT was co-founded by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev and is dedicated to blurring the lines between sports, gaming and sportswear. In early 2021, RTFKT teamed up with “Fewocious”, a popular crypto artist, and sold around 600 pairs of shoes, fetching a whopping USD 3.1 million in under seven minutes.
RTKFT launched a virtual “try on” session of the sneakers on Snapchat, after which bidders could enter the digital auction. The winners were given the physical shoes, but the real coveted asset remains the digital ones.
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