How will we dress when we live in the metaverse?

How will we dress when we live in the metaverse?

The partnership between Balenciaga and Fortnite is just the latest example: in a world where digital and physical merge, huge opportunities open up for fashion. And new designers are on the way

(Photo: Epic Games) Would you go to a concert by Travis Scott, a rapper with 50 million monthly listeners on Spotify, dressed in the first thing you find in your closet? If you are even minimally interested in clothing, the answer is negative: an event of this type always turns into an opportunity to show off the latest purchases.

What if it were instead a virtual concert, held by a digital Travis Scott and in which you participate through your avatar (in presence and together with millions of others)? In that case, you could still showcase store shopping that only exists in a video game. Welcome to the metaverse: the digital world in which, in the near future, we will spend part of our daily life, transferring a portion of our social and even professional life to it.

It's something that Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about a lot in recent times, who in an interview with The Verge, for example, explained how this metaverse "will be accessible across all platforms: virtual and augmented reality, but also computers, mobile devices and video game consoles. I imagine it as a continuous and simultaneous scenario in which we can be together. A kind of hybrid between today's social platforms and an environment in which we can embody ”.

What perhaps the founder of Facebook did not realize is that there is someone who is already far ahead of him. That a form (not so embryonic) of metaverse already exists and has all the credentials to continue to expand, incorporating a growing part of the physical world in which we live today. It is the digital universe of Fortnite, which has long been much more than a third-person shooter and where the Travis Scott concert we started from was really held, with 12 million users connected.

The skin market

But within Fortnite (which is produced by Epic Games) there is not only the possibility of attending the concerts of the most famous rap stars in the world. In the past, there has also been the option to go to the cinema (actually, a well done promotion for the launch of Tenet, the latest film by Christopher Nolan) or to participate in fashion shows, in which user avatars they wore their best creations subjecting them to the jury's judgment.

It shouldn't be surprising: skins (aesthetic additions that personalize the look of video game characters) have become one of the most sought after elements by gamers all over the world. And since these skins are bought within the video games themselves, the market they are able to generate is so large that, in an analysis by DMarket, they are considered "the main reason why Fornite managed to bill over a billion dollars a year ". There is not only Fortnite, of course, because skins now exist in any video game, giving life to a market that is worth something like 40 billion a year. A large portion of the overall turnover of video games, which is estimated at around 175 billion dollars and which grows in double figures year after year (thanks to its 2.6 billion players, including occasional ones).

(Photo: Epic Games)

The agreement with Balenciaga

Given the situation, it is quite natural that one of the best known brands in the world - Balenciaga, which produces luxury streetwear - has decided to enter this sector. To be precise, Balenciaga has announced a partnership with Epic Games, creating, specifically for Fortnite, skins, clothing, tools to be used in battle, bags, backpacks and clothes, which can also be purchased in special Balenciaga stores located throughout inside the digital environment.

It is not the first time that such a thing has happened: a digital version of Dionysus, a Gucci bag, was sold within the virtual universe of Roblox for over 4 thousand dollars, while already in 2019 Louis Vuitton had created skins for League of Legends. Valentino and Marc Jacobs, on their side, had instead created digital versions of some of their clothes for Animal Crossing.

Inevitably, NFTs are part of all this: digital signatures saved on the blockchain that guarantee the ownership and uniqueness of a digital object. The advantages are obvious: NFTs would offer users of a future metaverse the opportunity to demonstrate that they own a digital and original Balenciaga, perhaps a single piece certified through blockchain, and not one of the infinite digital and counterfeit copies that will inevitably populate. this world too. Not only that, NFTs allow you to store all the exchanges that a digital object has gone through and the owners to which it belonged. How much could the Fortnite skin used in the past by some celebrities be worth?

“It is only a matter of time before the biggest fashion houses enter the NFT sector”. It was not some cryptocurrency fanatic who made this statement, but Robert Triefus, executive vice-president of Gucci, speaking to Vogue Business. And in fact some smaller brands have already ventured: RTFKT (pronounced "artifact") sold the NFT of 600 pairs of sneakers for 3.1 million dollars in a few minutes (it must be said, however, that this happened in February, in full NFT fever).

Digital clothes in the real world?

So far we have talked about digital objects to show off in the world of Fornite or more generally in the metaverse that will be (and if it will be). However, there is another possibility, even more futuristic: digital clothes, but to show off in the physical world. How is it possible? An example was given by Rtfkt, which has partnered with Snapchat to allow its customers to physically wear digital sneakers, using the augmented reality filters of the social network founded by Evan Spiegel.

At the moment, the idea is still not very intriguing: only the user himself, framing his shoes with his smartphone and using a special filter, will be able to see his digital sneakers superimposed on those he wears in the physical world. The idea, however, is that one day - when we all wear augmented reality headsets - the people who pass us will no longer see (or not only) the physical clothes we wear, but the digital gadgets we have purchased: maybe a jacket. constantly on fire or a flying necklace.

These are two opposing visions: on the one hand, those who bet that the physical world will be increasingly enriched by digital elements; on the other hand, those who think that the physical world will increasingly move into a digital environment. Who's right? We will find out in the coming years, as this cyberpunk future materializes and is taking shape, before our eyes, with each passing day.

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