Metaverse has as much to offer to small fashion retailers as it does to big brands, as authenticity — not notability — will be one of the defining factors of success.
The concept of the metaverse is still nascent, however, it harbors immense potential for the fashion industry. Moreover, the freedom and flexibility of WEB3 allow fashion vendors of any size to break into the virtual world and take advantage of its vast opportunities, among which — less market entry barriers for up-and-coming creators and a space fueling creative expression.
Room for all
The world’s largest fashion houses have already started dipping their toes into the uncharted waters of the metaverse. Last year, the Italian fashion house Gucci released a digital-only bag, which was sold for a much higher price than its real-life equivalent. Louis Vuitton, the French luxury brand, has taken one step further by launching an NFT-embedded mobile application “Louis the Game”. This year the brand is investing further, having added new NFTs and quests for players to discover.
However, the prospects of new-age fashion are not reserved only for the ‘best and biggest’. Indrė Viltrakytė, the co-founder of the Rebels, an NFT project seeking to bridge IRL and WEB3 fashion, has emphasized authenticity, a natural fit for decentralized values, and transparency as the defining factors of successful meta-based projects.
“In WEB3, people have the power to decide who is worthy of success. We’ve already seen some big brands’ half-baked projects that flopped, as this community can tell the difference between passion-backed initiatives and the ones that are only seeking profit,” she said. “In this space, money or size is not what leads to success — it’s being raw and authentic. That’s why a small fashion boutique has just as big of a chance to make a statement as the industry’s veterans.”
Easier entry for emerging talents
WEB3 also eliminates certain barriers that may have previously limited up-and-coming fashion industry creatives. According to Viltrakytė, an independent designer or a fashion brand has to produce anywhere from 2 to 16 collections a year, which can be financially challenging for someone that is just starting out.
“The Rebels is a continuation of our IRL fashion house, so we know how tough the entire fashion cycle can be, starting from producing samples to participating in trade shows and marketing to consumers,” she said. “Turning your clothes into NFTs and selling them through blockchain-powered fashion marketplaces is much more accessible and affordable, especially if you are a digitally native brand. Also, an authentic origin story could help emerging talents to establish a strong presence without the need for paid ads.”
She also noted that Gen Z’ers, who are one of the main metaverse audiences’, value originality and sustainability above all, and boutique brands can channel these values much better than big conglomerates.
Breaking in as a non-tech business
While the idea of settling into the metaverse may be intimidating, especially for smaller brands, Viltrakyte has reassured that — although certain tech knowledge is a must-have — the attitude with which a business immerses itself into the space is far more important.
“Approaching with an attitude of “how can I give value’, rather than ‘how can this benefit me’ makes a whole lot of difference. Later, it all boils down to ‘learning by doing’, whether it’s selling digital collections, creating a first virtual fashion show, or listing an NFT collection,” said the fashion expert. “Also, I’ve learned that the WEB3 community is very welcoming, and connecting with people in Discord, Twitter, and other hubs can help to better understand the space.”
Decentraland, Roblox, and other metaverses are quickly positioning themselves as a prospective new channel to market brands. As early adopters could make use of the first-mover advantage, Ms Viltrakytė urged to take advantage of this and encouraged fashion SMEs to join the virtual community.
“A lot of digital artists already discovered WEB3 and NFTs as means to make a living out of their art. Now it’s the time for designers, fashion artists, and small brands to discover the opportunities, reinvent themselves, and make the most out of this technology.”