Models walking on upside runways. Floating handbags abducting fashionistas. Colossal mannequins warning of the end times. These are just a few of the highlights of this year's Metaverse Fashion Week, an event showcasing more than 60 designers and artists that wraps up Friday.
Decentraland is hosting the event for the second time. Traditional brands including Coach, Adidas and Dolce & Gabbana have signed onto the event, alongside digital fashion houses like The Fabricant.
The event has been plagued by some of the recurring technical issues with the metaverse — namely, glitchy graphics and slow response times. But despite the hiccups with the new technology, brands have largely unveiled their digital fashion shows and immersive experiences as planned.
Still, Metaverse Fashion Week comes amid tough developments for digital fashion.
Instagram recently rolled back plans to support the digital collectibles known as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. The move was a blow for creators and brands who had planned to launch limited-edition NFTs on the social media platform to drum up interest for their businesses. Meanwhile, TikTok — another popular platform for brands and creators alike — has found itself under fire, with the company’s CEO testifying before Congress last week over concerns about the app’s ability to shield user data.
None of those developments has stood in the way of the Metaverse Fashion Week, which last year drew more than 100,000 attendees. Below are five ways brands have been engaging in the event, from creating interactive art exhibitions to launching one-of-a-kind digital fashion shows.
Adidas showcases digital collection
Late last year, Adidas launched a 16-piece collection of digital wearables, released as NFTs, that could be worn by avatars throughout the metaverse. At the time, Adidas executives lauded the offering as a new frontier for the brand.
“We’re extremely proud to say that this virtual collection represents more than just a historic first for adidas,” Nic Galway, senior vice president of creative direction for Adidas Originals, said in a statement. “It also represents an idea of wearable clothing that can transcend time and space.”
The brand played with those themes Wednesday during its first digital fashion show in the metaverse, which took full advantage of the virtual world’s lack of gravity. The Adidas runway occasionally transformed into something akin to a giant gyrosphere, which digital models had no trouble traversing.
Art collective highlights Vivienne Westwood’s legacy
Art collective Vueltta debuted an immersive exhibit meant to honor the life and legacy of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who died late last year at age 81. The exhibit features a game that requires players to use information about Westwood’s life and activism, along with clues in the metaverse exhibit, to decode a puzzle.
The exhibit trumpets Westwood as a pioneer in virtual fashion, noting that she made all of her catwalks digital during her last decade to reduce their climate impact. It also highlights Westwood’s criticism of fast fashion and rampant consumerism.
Through the exhibit, Vueltta said it aims to “highlight the connections between Vivienne’s legacy of ‘anti-fashion’ rebellion with the counter-cultural creativity of today’s digital worlds.”
Institute of Digital Fashion teams with rising designer Bradley Sharpe
The Institute of Digital Fashion, which describes its mission as using technology to create a more democratic and sustainable future, teamed up with rising womenswear designer Bradley Sharpe to debut a limited-edition collection of wearable NFTs during Metaverse Fashion Week.
The team-up was a first for Sharpe, who said in a statement that he entered the partnership “knowing absolutely nothing about the possibilities of the metaverse and the impact it could have on my creativity.”
The Institute of Digital Fashion questions consumerism in one of the pieces in the two-item collection, which is printed with the words, “At the end of the world, do you need more clothes?” The other is a digital version of a gown Sharpe debuted in AW23 that features gathered sleeves and a hood.
Coach creates interactive Tabby purse
Coach also created immersive experiences, designing a giant version of its Tabby bag in the metaverse that could beam users up into virtual space where they could interact with digital artists and collect digital wearables.
The brand debuted the digital space only a few weeks after launching its “In My Tabby” campaign, which features celebrities including Lil Nas X and Camila Mendes sharing personal stories that shaped their identities.
Tommy Hilfiger introduces multi-metaverse hub
Tommy Hilfiger worked with virtual reality platform Emperia to debut a multi-metaverse hub that could portal users to other digital destinations, including Decentraland, DressX, Ready Player Me, Roblox and Spatial. The hub towers over the virtual lands with its iconic “TH” monogram.
Inside the hub, users can explore digital shopping opportunities, use a photobooth and participate in an artificial intelligence fashion design competition.
As part of the event, Tommy Hilfiger also released four exclusive items in both the digital and physical world. For instance, the brand’s e-commerce channels offer a varsity jacket, while users can wear the same jacket digitally on the Ready Player Me platform.