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Decoding Metaverse For Fashion Retail

Over 3 billion people played digital games in 2021 (source: Statista). With the virtual world getting better and better, we see a movement of increasing virtual immersion and trading digital goods in the time ahead. It is always good to take any new idea through mental models for optimal output. We wrote an article on the mental models here. This quote is very relevant as you start to think about the next steps.

One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions

Werner Von Braun

Metaverse is a catch-all phrase for all the existing technologies. They include virtual and augmented reality, multi-player video games, and the digital twins. This edit looks at the trend and possible potential opportunities of metaverse for fashion retail.

Companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Nike, Snap, Nvidia, Epic Games, Tencent are all immersing themselves into this universe of the metaverse.

Every important part of life is going digital. Reproducing Shaan Puri’s tweet here captures this perspective well.

Work –> from factories to laptops. boardrooms to zooms.

Friends –> from neighbors to followers. Where do you find like-minded people? Twitter. Reddit. etc.

Games –> more kids play Fortnite than basketball & football combined.

Identity –> filters are the new makeup. Stories are your personal billboard to broadcast who you are.

What matters more. What do you look like in real life? or what you look like on Instagram?

So if you play this forward another 10-20 years – we will cross into the metaverse The moment in time where digital matters more to us than physical. Our attention used to be 99% on our physical environment.

TVs dropped that to 85%

Computers down to 70%

Phones.. 50%

We will view this trend through a different lens.

The Gaming

With the gaming population more than streaming videos and the immersion being much more, it is already the metaverse.

Gamers are living in Minecraft or the world of warcraft as avatars in the virtual world. Companies like Epic games which has over 115 million users and Microsoft which owns Minecraft are looking at capitalizing on this growing userbase.

This Metaverse for fashion retail: There are already collaborations happening in this space. Here are three use cases and their adoption by select brands & designers.

  1. Digital fashion and product testing : Gucci x Wanna
  2. Dressing game characters in Branded products : Balenciaga x Fortnite
  3. Digital fashion selling through NFT : RTFKT X Fewocious ( Digital sneakers worth US$ 3 million sold in under 5 minutes)

We see an opportunity for brands both physical and digital-native ones to start entering the space, gear their capabilities and partnerships. We also see a creator’s economy developing.

Here is a well-curated video from BoF on metaverse.

BoF on Fashion and Metaverse

The Mixed Reality

For example, Facebook is using this approach along with sensors to create an immersive world. The rapid acquisition of AR/VR startups by Facebook is also indicating this direction.

This Metaverse for fashion retail: Being part of the mixed reality in open platforms like Facebook can help a brand give exposure to this experience with the consumers. This needs building capabilities or building partnerships.

The Video Avatar

The last two years through covid brought us to platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams in our digital video avatars. Microsoft is looking at an enterprise metaverse with our avatars attending meetings.

This Metaverse for fashion retail: We see this being living the metaverse as a team within the organization. We have already started living that in some form. Here is a detailed video of Microsoft’s CEO with HBR on metaverse and flexible work.

The NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens)

With increasing time spent in the virtual world, virtual goods are getting traction. The crypto world is creating a parallel de-centralized world of finance.

Here is a Bloomberg quick take video on fashion NFT.

This Metaverse for fashion retail: This can be a huge driver of building a business with authentic digital assets. There is no doubt that digital products will be a lot more sustainable. Digital products consume only 3% of the carbon footprint of physical products making it all the more earth-friendly.

A New Perspective

This tweet thread by Shaan Puri has an interesting perspective

Reproducing the thread here.

Hot take: Everyone is wrong about the Metaverse. Here’s my 3 part theory..

Part IEveryone is wrong

Most people think “the metaverse” is a virtual place. Like in the movie Ready Player One. A virtual world, like Minecraft, Roblox, or like Zuck showed in the Facebook demo yesterday. But what if it’s not a place?

Part II – It’s Not a Place, It’s a Time

A time?

Yes, a moment in time. You know in artificial intelligence, there’s an idea of “the singularity”? It’s a moment in time where AI becomes smarter than humans. The moment when artificial intelligence > human intelligence

Part III – What it is

The metaverse is the moment in time where our digital life is worth more to us than our physical life. This is not an overnight change. Or an invention by some steve jobs type. It’s a gradual change that’s been happening for 20 yrs.”

In Conclusion,

We are at the beginning of a journey that will grow over the next many years. It is good to get in, learn, build capabilities and capitalize at the right time.

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