How the metaverse is democratizing the fashion world


Make room on the runway, Armani, Versace and Ralph Lauren. 

Fashion is being democratized — and its future is virtual and moving to the metaverse

“The world’s next Coco Chanel might be a young, 10-year-old, 8-year-old girl designing clothes in Roblox,” Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer and co-founder of innovation and design consulting company Journey said in a discussion at this week’s virtual MetaBeat event. (Want to join us IRL? Come to the in-person MetaBeat event on Tuesday, October 4, in San Francisco.)

Fashion and technology are converging in both physical and virtual spaces, she said — and this isn’t only changing who is a fashion designer, but who can say they are one. 

“It’s truly amazing to watch fashion and art pushing the limits of what we can do with this technology,” said Hackl. “It’s this moment and this feeling in the tech industry and the fashion industry of coming closer together than ever before.”

For instance, Journey helped Walmart build Walmart Land and Walmart’s University of Play, two “new immersive experiences” within Roblox. The retail giant announced the new virtual endeavors this week, describing them as “bringing to life the best of Walmart’s ‘isles’ in a virtual world.” 

“Walmart Land will bring the best fashion, style, beauty and entertainment items directly to the global Roblox community of over 52 million daily users,” the company announced in a blog post. “The retailer will continue to bring the fun with Walmart’s Universe of Play — the ultimate virtual toy destination in Roblox, just in time for those oh-so-real holiday wish lists.” 

Users can explore a virtual store of merchandise, or “verch” for their avatars, ride Ferris wheels and play games and participate in competitions to earn tokens and badges. There’s also an “Electric Island” music festival with an interactive piano walkway, a dance challenge, a Netflix trivia experience with actor Noah Schnapp and a DJ booth where users can learn to mix different beats. This will host an “Electric Fest” in October, a motion-capture concert featuring artists Madison Beer, Kane Brown and YUNGBLUD.

Meanwhile, a “House of Style” will offer products from af94, UOMA by Sharon C., ITK by Brooklyn and Bailey, Lottie London and Bubble, and will feature a virtual dressing room, a strike-a-pose challenge, a cosmetics obstacle course and a roller-skating rink. 

This entrance of one of the world’s largest companies into the metaverse is nothing less than a landmark event, said Hackl. 

“It’s the Fortune 1, massive retailer entering the space in a way that feels organic and well done,” she said. 

Making the impossible, possible

Meanwhile, Amsterdam-based digital fashion platform Fabricant Studio debuted its first collection in November; Hackl participated by co-creating the “Godmother of the metaverse gown.”

“It was a beautiful moment for me,” she said, as she never dreamed that she could ever design couture. 

The metaverse is “making the impossible possible, making the unthinkable completely at your fingertips,” agreed Sasha Wallinger, head of Web3 and metaverse strategy at Journey. 

Wallinger described a “fashion language” of thinking several seasons ahead, ‘breaking to build’ and experimenting — much like the evolving metaverse experience. 

The metaverse is “a new tool, a new mechanism of taking a risk, but having a really high reward in that risk,” she said. “It’s really truly bringing the fun back to that creative experience, that marketing journey.”

No doubt, marketing and sales can often become stale, she said, but the metaverse is reinventing and innovating branding and development.

And, while that can be about building “beautiful worlds” of gaming, it can also include building communities and events as Walmart has, Hackl pointed out. 

No doubt, the metaverse is still being built itself, and much like the World Wide Web, it’s unclear how it will take shape, morph and evolve. 

“Will we call it metaverse in 10 years? I don’t know,” said Hackl. But in any case, “in the metaverse, we are all world builders and now is our time to build.”

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