Accessories and digital clothing, among the new businesses in the metaverse

Paris Hilton has her own avatar, created by a company called Genies. It is a kind of double for life. Paris and other celebrities or artists -especially musical ones- use these doubles in the networks, to market their products or to reinforce their own identity, to ensure effective visibility.

Mass fashion brands are moving into the avatar economy, metaverse, or the NFT explosion. Virtual worlds such as Roblox or Fortnite arise, which stimulate these firms to continue experimenting with virtual goods. Understanding consumers, giving them what they want, producing more and faster, innovating in products, materials, ideas and businesses… Some start-ups enter the fashion business applying technologies that revolutionize the sector.

Digital identities become a lucrative opportunity taking advantage of the metaverse and NFTs, although it must be taken into account that these virtual worlds open the door to more (and new) cyber crimes, and this in turn makes security solutions make it a priority.

It seems clear that the use of virtual goods is moving beyond gaming environments, helping brands create new markets and online experiences.

These non-tangible goods (items that cannot be touched and can only be accessed and traded in virtual environments) create a market of more than $200 billion, according to CB Insights.

In these new worlds, users interact in the form of avatars that can be customized with clothing, accessories, and all kinds of products that can be purchased.

Along with their popularity in virtual worlds, avatars have grown in ubiquity thanks to apps like Snapchat, social platforms like Zepeto and VRChat, or avatar technology developers like Genies.

The new universe of digital identities is of increasing interest to younger generations, especially members of Generation Z, who feel more comfortable online than offline. As the importance of the virtual self grows, the opportunities to sell identities to digital users multiply. The “go straight to avatar” concept presents tremendous opportunities for monetization and branding. According to CB Insights, in 2022 this direct-to-avatar model is expected to take off as brands bet on the future of virtual worlds and compete for online relevance.

There are examples of recent collaborations between fashion brands and virtual platforms, such as the virtual space Gucci Garden created by Gucci for two weeks on Roblox. The fashion house put some hard-to-find items on the platform, with the support of the Gucci creator community, which has decided to enter the metaverse. The Gucci Garden space, open for 14 days in May 2021, included themed rooms where visitors shed their avatars to become a neutral mannequin. The Roblox engine allowed interaction in various environments with dynamic textures and patterns personalized for each visitor’s mannequin. Additionally, the developer avatar editor offered visitors the freedom to purchase and wear exclusive Gucci virtual items.

Other companies are trying out different direct-to-avatar strategies, such as launching digital storefronts or permanent “experiences” in these worlds: there’s the Vans World interactive skateboard and skate park, also on Roblox; blockchain-based worlds like The Sandbox, where Adidas bought a plot of virtual land, or Decentraland, where Sotheby’s has opened a virtual gallery; NFT mobile apps like The Game by Louis Vuitton; and other NFT experiments like Nike’s Rtfkt studio, which has created digital virtual sneaker collectibles.

The strategies from direct to avatar will be embraced by gamers seeking business opportunities in the metaverse, from professional sports teams to restaurant chains. But also in the field of entertainment, where events marketed to consumer avatars can draw crowds and also generate revenue. It is the example of Ariana Grande and her three-day series of concerts in Fortnite in August 2021, with an audience of millions and generating more than US $ 20 million in revenue.

Real estate and real estate businesses are also looking at virtual worlds. Years ago I missed the idea of ​​selling plots on the Moon or considering the construction of hotels in space. Today it is not strange to talk about the purchase or possession of virtual land and plots.

Creators of digital experiences

NaverZ announced at the end of January this year the launch of a US$100 million fund for the platform that allows creators to develop 2D and 3D content for mobile phones, PCs or virtual reality devices. The initiative followed a US$190 million Series B round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II.

Naver Z develops Zepeto, which runs the Zepeto 3D avatar application, an amalgamation of entertainment, gaming and social networking experiences that enables users to render their ‘selfies’ into 3D avatars, design digital spaces and interact with others. Zepeto has users all over the world, but particularly among women in their teens and twenties in South Korea and China. Because of its global reach, designer brands like Gucci and Ralph Lauren, as well as celebrities like Blackpink and Selena Gomez, turn to Zepeto to build their own branded digital experiences. Designer accessories that are prohibitively expensive for most people in real life are affordable in the virtual world of Zepeto.

A parallel world for the ‘celebrities’

Genies, the virtual avatar company that makes cartoon-style digital versions of celebrities, counts Paris Hilton, Camila Cabello and Priyanka Chopra as some of its latest investors. All three participated in May 2021 as investors in the €59 million ($65 million) funding round led by Bond, with participation from NEA, Breyer Capital, Tull Investment Group, Dapper Labs, NetEase and Coinbase Ventures. Bond was created by Mary Meeker and other former leaders of the Kleiner Perkins Digital Growth Fund in 2018, and has already raised more than $3.25 billion in two funds.

Genies CEO and founder Akash Nigam says Paris Hilton’s support, in particular, has to do with Genies’ approach to the crypto space and the sale of NFTs, which is a concept of authenticating real property in Internet. Genies avatars help advertise and sell digital items that can be purchased as crypto-backed NFTs, and its partnership with Warner Music will see the company expand its avatar ‘park’ to music artists.

Precisely the music sector is one of the examples of the potential of the metaverse, where artists turn to ‘Fortnite’ and Roblox to hold virtual concerts online.

Genies wants to become the virtual identity for people to express themselves in the digital world. It started with celebrities to capture moments for events such as album launches, songs and guest appearances, and saw a moment of great use during the pandemic. Their activity has helped celebrities generate income, even when they can’t go anywhere in person.

The money from last May’s round will be used to invest in the technology behind the Genie avatar system and to continue building the digital goods marketplace on Dapper Labs’ Flow platform, which will support non-fungible tokens that they allow users to create uniquely identifiable digital items with the help of ‘blockchain’.

Roblox, the unicorn of metaverse

Roblox’s name appears several times due to its relationship with other companies, platforms and new agents in the metaverse. Basically it is a platform where it is possible to create and share online with other players. They themselves assure that their mission is “to bring the whole world together through play” and they boast of “fostering imagination, creation and fun with friends while exploring millions of immersive 3D experiences, created by a global community of developers”.

Roblox began betting on the educational sector, developing video games that teach robotics, space exploration, engineering, computer science, and biomedical science. The idea is that users continue to be users when they finish interacting with educational games, and that they consume products and services.

At the beginning of the year, Carlos Blanco, serial entrepreneur, investor and founder of Nuclio, Encomenda and Connector, predicted in ‘Expansión Start Up’ that “in this third decade of the 21st century another company will be born that will have to do with the metaverse. It will be a company of the dimensions and characteristics of Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon or Google. But this will not happen in 2022”. Blanco then bet on Roblox within five or 10 years and assured that the company “will know how to attract children and adolescents as Instagram did in its day.”

Shopping experience and community

‘Vans World’ is an experience created by the Vans company in collaboration with Roblox community developers, The Gang Stockholm, combining skateboarding, fashion and community. It is a 3D space in which users of the video game platform can practice this sport, try on and purchase exclusive Vans products. The experience allows each participant to create their own style or build their perfect board. Additionally, with access to millions of people in the Roblox metaverse, brands can reach fans and engage new ones in an immersive way, while also marketing their brands in the metaverse.

Digital art to dress (or shoe) your avatar

Among the experiments with NFT, it is worth highlighting the operation at the end of 2021 in which Nike announced the acquisition of Rtfkt, a company dedicated to creating digital products for the metaversewhich is basically a digital art studio.

Rtfkt was founded in 2020 and maintains a team dedicated to creating NFTs, blockchain authentication, and augmented reality. For Nike, which has ‘Nikeland’ -a metaverse available through the Roblox video game platform, in which users can dress their avatars with the brand’s clothing-, the Rtfkt operation was strategic to compete in the metaverse, since he managed to have his own digital art studio to create NFTs.

To use in another dimension

Some brands want to gain a foothold in the burgeoning business of reselling virtual goods. Companies like The Fabricant, founded by Amber Slooten and Kerry Murppy, operate here, working at the intersection of fashion and technology manufacturing digital couture and fashion experiences. In 2019 The Fabricant sold a virtual dress for €7,750 in bitcoin that can only be ‘worn’ digitally.

Today The Fabricant helps brands to adopt 3D technology in clients called ‘phygital’ that sell garments exclusively in 3D.

Some luxury brands are moving towards avatar fashion, especially in relation to the video game industry: Louis Vuitton launched a ‘League of Legends’ collection; Moschino, another for ‘The Sims’; and Gucci makes a bid for virtual fashion with a digital collection for a style app, exclusive outfits, virtual ‘looks’ for Genies avatars and sneakers for the ‘Aglet’ mobile game, which allow players to collect virtual shoes from big brands like Nike, Chanel and Balenciaga. Others, such as the French start-up Arianee, develop digital protocols that use watermarks based on non-fungible tokens and that serve to authenticate luxury items. Arianee works with Breitling and the Richemont Group conglomerate.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker