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Metaverse Fashion Week explained to my old man

Metaverse Fashion Week 2023 has just fashioned the future. The second annual edition of MVFW was a fashion-filled four-day event held on 28-31 March on the Decentraland platform, a virtual social world powered by the Ethereum blockchain. With over 60 designers and artists, the programme was joined by big names such as Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Diesel, alongside web natives DressX, The Fabricant and the Institute of Digital Fashion.

The runway of Metaverse Fashion Week 2023, the second edition of the event, which took place on 28-31 March

The runway of Metaverse Fashion Week 2023, the second edition of the event, which took place on 28-31 March

Featuring wearable collections, digital spaces, and ground-breaking activations from leading fashion brands, independent designers, Web3 natives and the DCL community, MVFW 2023 came after the massive success of the first edition: in March 2022, Decentraland launched the very first Metaverse Fashion Week with a line-up of digital shows and presentations from Dolce&Gabbana, Etro, Tommy Hilfiger and more, a space by Selfridges department store, as well as musical performances, gatherings, parties and plenty of opportunities to shop NFTs and wearable outfits. The event reached record numbers: more than 100,000 guests logged onto the debut MVFW and attended virtual catwalks, openings, exhibitions, concerts and after-parties. And that’s not all, as 7 million media impressions were generated, with 460 newspapers covering the programme and over 165,000 wearables, aka objects and clothes to wear in one of the most fashionable parallel worlds, as presented by fashion houses.

The DKNY MVFW23 closing party

The DKNY x MVFW23 closing party

But what was the resonance of MVFW 2023? As Vogue Business reported, “over the four-day period, the Metaverse Fashion Week on Decentraland saw an estimated 26,000 unique active users, according to the platform. Other estimates put unique visitors at nearly 8,900 and almost 60,000 total experience visits, according to data analysis by metaverse data platform Geeiq, looking at data provided by third-party vendors.” That’s why some industry insiders believe that the initial enthusiasm for the new virtual worlds is slowly waning: “Following the highs of last year’s hype, this second iteration arrives in a sobered climate,” stated Vogue Business in a dedicated article, while Dezed mentioned “a so-called crypto bear market, where investment and cultural interest in the metaverse has dwindled.” Although headlines report a “slowed metaverse momentum” or a “metaverse winter,” the 2nd edition of MVFW proved that there’s still enthusiasm for the format. “For the first time, we witnessed real cooperation between fashion brands and the community,” MVFW head Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro told Vogue Business, adding that while numbers were down, thousands more people had visited the metaverse for the first time. 

Avatars enjoying Metaverse Fashion Week 2023

Avatars enjoying Metaverse Fashion Week 2023

And those in the fashion and luxury game are proving that they are but at the beginning of exploring the possibilities this world has to offer. Web3 is a real revolution, the next and most necessary canvas upon which the evolution of luxury will be written, and fashion news is flooding in to show us how much brands believe – and invest – in the metaverse. All the major labels are boosting 3D production. Besides NTFs, apparel collections and video game exploration, the metaverse is a ‘showcase’ for designers to present their real or virtual collections. It is also the place to be for limited-edition products and eye-catching collaborations.

For the second annual Metaverse Fashion Week, Tommy Hilfiger debuted a multi-metaverse hub, powered by Emperia, across various virtual platforms

For the second annual Metaverse Fashion Week, Tommy Hilfiger debuted a multi-metaverse hub, powered by Emperia, across various virtual platforms

With a schedule featuring shows, panel talks and fashion-focused parties to expand the event beyond the traditional runway show format, MVFW 2023 followed the theme ‘Future Heritage’. With participants asked to delve deep into “the potential of fashion to bridge realities and worlds,” the expanded programme saw Decentraland collaborate for the second time with UNXD, which creates crypto-narratives for luxury fashion houses. But that’s not all, as the so-called “metaverse real estate platform” also partnered with Spatial and OVER.

The curatorial theme of MVFW23 was ‘Future Heritage’

The curatorial theme of MVFW23 was ‘Future Heritage’

Founded in Udine, Italy, OVER is a mixed reality metaverse merging physical and virtual worlds, demonstrating that not all avant-garde technologies come from Silicon Valley. Through the Over app, customers can experience unique moments: one of them was the much-anticipated hybrid AR-IRL runway show that took MVFW to Milan’s Piazza del Duomo on March 31. In a nutshell, Over planned “a fashion and tech takeover of the Piazza del Duomo, with a hybrid fashion show and other events on the closing day of Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week,” as reported by WWD. The AR metaverse fashion show grabbed attention, but Over also packed “other elements into the agenda, including a keynote address by Marco Ruffa, Pinko’s digital transformation director, a featured AR experience by Bored Apes and CryptoPunks and a panel talk” with Istituto Marangoni Managing Director Stefania Valenti and speakers from the Municipality of Milan, Polygon and PwC Italy.

 

For the second time, fashion took over the metaverse – and it was great

The new MVFW edition aimed to connect the new generation of designers, engaged in the digital world, with creatives who today would be considered “traditional”. Connected users could attend fashion shows and go from a fashion show to a luxury shopping mall and buy physical or digital clothes in the form of NFTs. DressX, the digital clothing specialist, also joined the event.

The Coach activation at Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland created by Threediem

The Coach activation at Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland created by Threediem

“I cannot wait to show the world what has developed since the last time we showcased the fashion revolution in the metaverse on a grand stage,” said Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, head of the Metaverse Fashion Week, a few days before the launch of the 2023 event, as reported by Wallpaper. “Within one year, we have shown the world one of the strongest and most obvious use cases for the metaverse yet – digital fashion. After all, we don’t all want to look like dull copies of the same avatar in our digital lives. Just like in the real world, we all want to individualise and curate the personal aesthetics that we are recognised for.”

 

How things went down: Anyone with an Internet connection could get involved with MVFW 

The theme chosen for this year mixes tradition and innovation. It is the perfect synthesis to describe the MVFW, created to let the audience experience fashion from different points of view and make it accessible to everyone, not just insiders, as well as attracting users from another generation. 

Pioneered by Decentraland and UNXD, in collaboration with the Spatial and OVER metaverses, MVFW23 invited the global community to experience the latest advancements in metaversal interoperability and digital fashion

Pioneered by Decentraland and UNXD, in collaboration with the Spatial and OVER metaverses, MVFW23 invited the global community to experience the latest advancements in metaversal interoperability and digital fashion

Accessing Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week was simple. Visitors only had to link their cryptocurrency wallet or visit the virtual world in ‘guest’ mode. The global digital fashion social network Decentraland provided the coordinates of each area where the events took place; with a simple ‘jump in’, they could reach the after-parties, digital shops, fashion shows and conferences organised by various brands.

 

Shows & the Metaverse

Although the event took place in multiple meta-verse spaces, the core was still the Luxury District in Decentraland, within which fashion brands displayed their virtual shop windows. 

The heart of fashion in Decentraland. The Luxury Fashion District was where global fashion brands displayed their virtual storefronts during MVFW23

The heart of fashion in Decentraland. The UNXD Luxury Fashion District was where global fashion brands displayed their virtual storefronts during MVFW23

When the first MVFW 2022 kicked off, renowned fashion brands such as Etro and Hogan customised the metaverse with their style, showing what digital fashion would look like. This year’s experience was no different, with various aesthetics in this parallel world, somewhere between the future of Web3 and the fashion tradition.

 

All the major highlights from the 2023 Metaverse Fashion Week: the big-name brands that brought their designs to this virtual world 

 

A new realm of possibility, MVFW 2023 saw the participation of the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Adidas, DKNY, Diesel, Clarks, and a line-up of digital fashion houses and platforms such as DRESSX, Phygicode, The Fabricant, Altr, The Institute of Digital Fashion, House of Web3 and Meta Fashion House. 

Dolce & Gabbana already showed on Decentraland in MVFW 2022. There, it presented its journey into the Metaverse, which began in 2021 with several NFT collections that gave the brand greater artistic and artisanal visibility. For the 2023 edition, Dolce & Gabbana led the charge towards the next wave with winning designs from its Future Rewards competition, where the brand collaborated with emerging talents to release a co-branded Wearables line. 

The closing party of Metaverse Fashion Week 2023

The DKNY x MVFW23 closing party

DKNY offered a unique and immersive experience, bringing the city’s dynamic energy into the virtual world, with a four-floor building consisting of a DKNY boutique, a New York-style pizzeria, an art gallery and a rooftop lounge that offered a breathtaking view of the city skyline.

The Hilfiger space at Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland

The Hilfiger space at Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland

Tommy Hilfiger, who already participated in last year’s event by opening a digital shop in the Boson Portal District, returned to MVFW with new products, AI technology and incredible initiatives. These included a challenge among the community of aspiring designers participating in the event, where Tommy Hilfiger himself selected the winner. As Vogue Business stated, “Tommy Hilfiger’s experience linked out to multiple other metaverse platforms, including Emperia, Roblox and DressX. It resulted in four times the retention in their activation compared to last year’s MVFW.”

An image from the Adidas Virtual Gear digital wearables NFT capsule collection

An image from the Adidas Virtual Gear digital wearables NFT capsule collection

Adidas hosted a fashion show and party, but the brand’s first participation in MVFW also involved a community-first experience encompassing the owners of its Virtual Gear tokens and the Decentraland visitors. Owners of the label’s Virtual Gear non-fungible tokens (NFT) could request an exclusive 3D twin to use on avatars inside the Decentraland platform.

The Diesel party

The Diesel party

According to Vogue Business, “Diesel hosted a DJ set and party, where avatars danced via ‘emotes0 and flexed their digital ensembles; they also could explore some Diesel and D-Cave digital fashion on display and claim a free red Diesel cap (token-holders had access to additional pieces).” While “Coach’s experience included a quest, artist collaborations and an AR wearable, all tied to the narrative of its Tabby bag marketing campaign.”

Clarks entered the Metaverse for the second time with the launch of Clarks Arcade, an immersive entertainment hub

Clarks entered the Metaverse for the second time with the launch of Clarks Arcade, an immersive entertainment hub

The British footwear brand Clarks entered the space with the launch of Clarks Arcade, halfway between a disco club and an amusement park. In this space, guests could experience nostalgic carnival games, win unique wearables, and enjoy Clarks-themed video games, dance battles, and vintage fairground rides.

 

Why do we need a fashion week in the metaverse? Physical shows in the Big Four are no longer enough

Events in the virtual world have tremendous potential for new younger consumers, such as Gen Z or Gen Alpha, but at the same time, brands do not intend to move away from the traditions in the fashion world. Innovation must be perceived as strengthening fashion houses.

Avatars enjoying Metaverse Fashion Week 2023

Avatars enjoying Metaverse Fashion Week 2023

At the same time, “fashion and couture are not new to the Metaverse,” as pointed out by Sam Hamilton, creative director of the Decentraland Foundation and co-organiser of MVFW 2023. “Decentraland has been at the forefront of digital fashion, in demand since the launch of wearables in 2020. Since then, creators have been working on these digital wearables’ technical and style limits, creating a booming economy.”

 

 

Agnese Pasquinelli
Fashion Business, Digital Communication & Media student, 2nd year, Milan
Course
Programme
undergraduate-BA (Hons) Degrees · 3-Year courses