Digital fashion is here to stay

Incredible as it may seem, digital fashion has developed so much that it already needs its own fashion week with all that that implies: from fashion shows and presentations of new collections to public talks and parties with real DJs. The first digital fashion week took place from March 23 to 27 on Decentraland, a decentralized virtual social platform on the Ethereum blockchain.

Previously, Jonathan Simkhai presented his collection in Second Life just before New York Fashion Week. After the parade, evening gown skins could be purchased from NFTs to dress up user avatars in Second Life.

Decentraland also held the first full-fledged fashion week in history, which lasted for five days. On the first day, Selfridges launched a store featuring NFT from the royal exhibition currently in London: The Future of Victor Vasarely’s Work and the Influence it Had on His Contemporary Paco Rabbane, called UNIVERSE. Players can purchase NFT dresses as well as artwork from the Fondation Vasarely.

The second day

During the second day of Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW), there were many panel discussions, modeling workshops, interviews, the opening of the UNXD luxury district, and mini-games. After all, we are in the gaming space. And, perhaps, the most significant parts were two shows by Dolce & Gabbana and Philip Plein, as this is why gamers and fashionistas alike paid attention to MVFW.

Decentraland’s graphics immediately raised questions from many Instagram users who commented on the brands’ posts about MVFW. Decentraland was released in beta in 2017 and many creators questioned the graphical quality, working with what they had. Due to the quality, the parades looked ridiculous, forcing brands to post only the images of skins that were purchasable in-game. For example, Dolce & Gabbana chose cats with glasses and hairstyles as their digital models. His parade was held in a virtual room with a circular podium and flowers.

Each cat had its own style and the collection echoed the brand’s actual parade, both in the scenery and in the furs presented. This season, D&G fans will indulge in metaverse logomania, sporting animal prints, down jackets, voluminous shoulders and sunglasses, beaming with happiness.

Philipp Plein celebrated his parade with a huge skull, pointing to the symbol of the brand. The skull opened and his tongue unrolled to introduce the models walking in the parade. Fans of Philip Plein in this metaverse season await luminous goggles or respiratory masks, cat-eared helmets, down jackets, wings and bathrobes.

On the brand’s website, prices for furs that were sold fresh off the runway started at $1,500 for the Moon $urfer and went up to $15,000 for the Platinum $urfer. These skins come with a special gift: A small skeleton sitting on the shoulder, probably to justify the cost.

After the show, everyone was invited to a party where Plein streamed from his home to join the party, bragging on his Instagram stories that his clothes were being featured in the metaverse for the first time. The designer wore his brand’s custom skin: a helmet with cat ears. It’s clear that fashion in the metaverse loves cats.

Additionally, many brands opened digital boutiques in the metaverse. In the Luxury District, shoppers could find Dolce & Gabbana and Philip Plein, but also the luxury watch boutique Jacob & Co and a Hèrmes Birkin bag store. Are there other means of highlighting your status in the metaverse, if not a Birkin and a watch?

Jacob & Co launched “Metaverse Astronomy,” a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that includes eight clocks, one for each planet in the Solar System. “The clocks of the five planets closest to the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter) have been produced as unique physical clocks (including an NFT of the clock), while the three most distant planets (Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) have been split into multiple digital-only variants.”

The third day

The third day saw an Etro fashion show and the presentation of the Dress X collection. The Etro fashion show was the biggest flop of the entire MVFW, as styling average avatars in mediocre Buta-branded clothing was enough to a digital collection in the metaverse. The show was held in the same location as Dolce & Gabbana, but with less special effects and not enough glitz and flair.

The behavior of the public was far from perfect: many users rushed to get closer to the stage, spoiling the show. It was clear that the organizers had no technical restrictions to avoid it, or they did not expect it. The fans did not like the spectacle and they destroyed the presentation of the collection.

The fifth day

On the last day, there was a presentation by Estée Lauder, the first cosmetics brand to perform with glitter in the metaverse. They introduced a product that gave avatars a veil of gold glitter, which looked amazing. As a smart branding move for Estée Lauder, it gave away gold glitter – users were happy and their avatars sparkled.

There was also a parade of the Dundas brand with dresses with bows and glitter that came out of their avatars. In reality, there was nothing particularly noteworthy: the physical collection was repeated, playing with the concept of dressing oneself. Now, users can dress up their avatars. The models they used were more humanized and less clumsy.

The final touch was the Auroboros x Grimes Immersive Experience party with a performance by Grimes. It was clear to everyone that she moved much better than the standard avatars and even better than the catwalk models of this metaverse. He wore a suit with snake scales and long braids. It seemed that Grimes had been living in the metaverse for a long time, he had just adapted.

After five days of watching MVFW, it’s great to see so many brands taking part in the new page of fashion industry history, even if they couldn’t predict the outcome of this experiment. The shows did not look the way the brands had hoped, as their social media posts made clear. This is because the brands published the best photos of the show and not the reality of pixelated avatars and simple looks.

Perhaps the graphics were created specifically to make the viewers feel nostalgic, to then amaze us with impressive results and an evolution of what the future of MVFW will be like, even with realistic impressions of the clothes and the models that wear them.

The only thing we can do is hope that the next fashion week will be more technologically advanced and that Balenciaga will join the list, since it seems to be the pioneer of digital fashion in the world of luxury.

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Inna Komvarova is the founder of the popular fashion Telegram channel Mamkina. In 2019, she left her job as head of the industrial sales department at a prominent HVAC company and started working full-time in fashion media.

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