With over 20 years' experience in the creative and design field, Lionell Schuring, VP & Chief Creative Officer at Mobiquity shares his view in this article on how metaverse and NFTs will disrupt the future of the fashion industry.
What is metaverse, exactly?
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around metaverse. As a creative I am more interested in making innovation real rather than just talking about it. Despite the never-ending buzz, this whole concept of metaverse is still too fluid and there is no metaverse yet. What we have now are just technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are reaching critical mass and which you can already use to solve problems and frictions in our daily lives.
I believe that once metaverse becomes a reality – in whatever shape - we will just have to call it the internet again. Concisely, metaverse is the natural evolution of the internet we know today. Early on, the internet consisted only of computers talking to computers. Web 1.0 computers connected us to all kinds of information, then Web 2.0 connected us to other people, and now Web 3.0 connects us to places and material objects.
But this will not mean people, places, and objects will only meet each other in VR. It will be a constant mixture of realities and the moment you do not feel the borders between realities is when metaverse is truly born – or better said - our next step in the evolution of the internet. To make it practical, you can still feel a big boundary now when you have a meeting. It is perfectly fine when all the participants are online, it works flawlessly when everyone is in one room together, but we are all struggling when it is hybrid. Once that feeling fades away, we will have made a huge step forward in experiencing metaverse.
Digital Fashion is built for metaverse
As we have already seen in the past year, fashion is one of the first industries that has effective use cases in metaverse. One of my hobbies is playing computer games. While I was playing World of Warcraft over a decade ago, I realized that using clothing and fashion as a statement of who we are can easily transcend from our physical to the digital world.
Moving forward 10 years later, I see that many games now allow users to craft outfits for their avatars using digital fashion. Therefore, it has now become a frequent practice to tap into digital fashion to express yourself and make your character unique in various online games. So, yes, fashion plays the same role in our digital world as it does in the physical world.
How metaverse brings positive change to animal cruelty in fashion
Before we dive into fur, let's first talk about the fashion industry in general. Lately, we are reading a lot of negative news around NFTs and blockchain and how much energy these technologies use. While the climate controversy swirling around NFTs is true and is a key factor to mention and be dealt with, we should also be looking into the insane amount of energy being wasted in the fashion industry by growing and harvesting the resources to produce and distribute clothes. With low prices and ever-changing collections, fashion brands and the clothing industry are tempting shoppers to over-consume mass-produced items which contributes to more than 92 million tons of waste annually. You will not have all this waste in the digital world.
Now going back to the fur industry, this brings another layer of complexity to the fashion landscape. Nowadays, buying and wearing fur clothes is cruel and unnecessary, so if you are looking to wear them on the streets for a casual walk, you will be rightfully considered to be an outcast. Wearing fur is no longer only frowned upon in many parts of the world, but people were also attacked in the streets of London or New York if they wore so much as a fur scarf. The obvious reason is the huge animal cruelty that goes with it. To substitute real fur and its implications to the animals and the environment, but still use this garment from a fashion point of view, we're launching a UNFUR digital fashion collection using NFTs. This initiative creates a debate between wearing fur in the digital world while no animals are being hurt and auctioning the NFTs and using the money we get to fight the fur industry in the physical world. Once we launch the collection on June 14th at MET AMS, you can make a bid and be part of this fight against the fur industry.
With NFTs growing appetite for digital garments collections, the fashion industry will have to evolve
Fashion in metaverse is unlimited, but NFTs are the backbone of metaverse’s revenue generation, so they co-exist to revolutionize the digital fashion industry. As digital fashion has come to the forefront, we are at a stage where fashion has just started to engage with NFTs.
Because the digital world presents us with no boundaries in our creativity, I will not even start to predict where fashion will go in the future. But in the fur fashion case, NFTs and digital fashion can bring new possibilities to develop further. By becoming sustainable and animal cruelty free, both have the potential to expand and redefine fur fashion as we know it.
What is next for brands launching into metaverse?
Ever since digital became part of our lives, it has been attacking brands. Mapping out how your brand is different, memorable and desirable by your ideal customer is just something to help people in their decision to choose your products. Playing this game used to be relatively simple, sometimes you didn’t even have to have a good product, if your brand power was strong enough to convince people to buy from you. But now with digital disrupting the ecosystem, brands need to work harder to create enough gravity to pull people towards them.
As a brand you need to orchestrate a whole symphony of touch points that make people’s experience easier and meaningful with your brand. This whole metaverse is just another layer you need to deal with as a brand. You just have to find the value in it for your customers and your business. It’s quite like the internet in 1995. You just have to go in, look at what’s possible but also very quickly start finding out what’s valuable.
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