By Julie A. Evans – Guest Contributor
There’s been a lot of people discussing the Metaverse and how it will affect certain industries. All of it centers around adding additional layers of connectivity while at the same time being able to take a more sustainable approach.
The latest industry to start adopting the Metaverse more and more is the fashion industry. Looking at some current possible uses today for fashion and this type of tech can help show us the vision of the future.
A switch to sustainability
Unfortunately, the fashion industry is notoriously one of the least sustainable areas out there. There’s a lot of movement now to work towards more recycled and sustainable fashion, with varying levels of success.
There’s also a cyclical nature towards style where there are primarily two different seasons per year to launch new items across the board, with the clothing itself lasting a lot longer than a season. That leaves a lot of clothing being made and not always being utilized immediately, leaving the potential for a lot of waste.
To produce this amount of clothing also consumes a lot of resources, with some fabrics, such as a pair of jeans requiring 1,800 gallons of water to be consumed by the cotton that produces it.
So, it’s important to know exactly what needs to be produced before actually going ahead with it. This is where the Metaverse comes in as a practical application. Besides the sheer processing power of data behind it and using this big data to let the fashion industry know what to produce, it will allow users to simply style themselves virtually with an avatar that suits their likeness.
That will lead to more on-demand fashion, allowing for products to be produced when they’re going to be bought instead of trying to stack them up in stores and wait for people to purchase them.
The reduction of the retail location
If we’ve been taught anything when it comes to recent events, it’s to definitely switch to a more online shopping experience. Yet we still miss the experience of being able to experience high fashion through their lavish and luxurious retail outlets.
Part of the shopping experience for designer fashion is heading to the store itself and seeing what is available. It’s about being put into the mindset of the store, and when it comes to online shopping, it seems very standard, with just a list of images and items, with minimal interaction or inspiration.
More designers have started exploring the Metaverse as a way to be pioneers in the industry and reach a new target demographic. Gucci is a prominent example that has jumped headfirst into the Metaverse by designing a virtual online experience and having already handled several collaborations with artists to produce Non Fungible tokens or NFTs.
Gucci, as with many fashion houses and retailers in general, has already purchased plots of virtual land in the Sandbox digital universe in preparation to have a presence when people start to interact more with the Metaverse itself.
This helps reduce the overall need for so many retail outlets that are expensive to operate and cost a lot of utilities to maintain. In addition, this helps to manage operational expenses for the company as they help to reduce their overall carbon footprint by switching everything to a completely digital format.
The ability to experiment with fashion
Designing within the Metaverse allows for more artistic creativity and allows for a much quicker turnaround time. In addition, by being able to design in a digital environment, it’s easier to shift patterns, colors, sizes, and cuts in a digital format until the right fashion piece is created. This helps to reduce the physical waste when prototyping fashion garments.
Ultimately as we expand the technologies that surround the Metaverse, the other senses besides sound and sight will be able to be used, such as touch. Therefore, it won’t be just about the look of the fabric but also the feel of the fabric, enabling a truly unique experience for the fashion designers and those looking to purchase these items from a consumer side.
Additionally, it’ll be able to be possible to seamlessly integrate these in the Metaverse as there are more sensory objects that are coming out to support this.
A whole new target demographic
Collaboration in fashion is nothing new, but the way it’s now possible in the Metaverse and through NFTs has limitlessly expanded the reach of fashion. Previously industries that could not seem further apart are now collaborating regularly, especially in the gaming industry.
An example of this is the collaboration between Gucci Garden and Roblox, a direct metaverse gaming collaboration. As this industry is one of the primary ways of showing what the Metaverse could look like, more fashion brands are using it as a channel to push their products into these worlds.
It’s a perfect medium for the gaming industry because it allows people to digitally show their uniqueness while they play games, based on their in-game ‘look’. They’re able to make purchases of these virtual fashion items and showcase them to a much wider audience than previously possible while at the same time proving ownership through the functionality provided by NFT’s underlying architecture in the blockchain space.
As NFTs continue to become more mainstream for anything that is related to digital products, it’s going to make it much easier to incorporate as social media avatars, gaming avatars, and eventually the items we utilize in-game and how they end up looking. All of this is already happening and will continue to be a focal point.
This helps to open the combination of big data with machine learning to have AI develop what fashion’s future can look like. It’s already starting there with predictive analytics and trend analysis and eventually will lead to virtual fashion shows that you can personalize to everyone that is watching it. This makes it a more inclusive and relevant fashion show for those who participate.
Sustainable fashion is in our reach
Whether we start seeing less real-life fashion and more digital fashion is yet to be seen. Still, as we have started shifting to a more digital, remote working lifestyle, we have an urge to be able to express ourselves, and the digital Metaverse that is just in its infancy is already showing us that it’s possible.
So whether it’s the ability to buy clothing on demand and to help reduce the waste the fashion industry produces or giving us a way to express ourselves virtually when socializing or playing video games, there’s a large push in the fashion tech industry that’s specifically focused on integration with the Metaverse.
At its core, this will help true realization through all the various touchpoints, behavioral patterns, and other big data sets to produce fashion that will ultimately sell out completely without having it go down the entire chain to the bargain bin in discount clothing stores.
Sustainable fashion is within our reach, and the more we push the initial process to a digital format within the growing Metaverse, the better the carbon footprint is eliminated by the digital footprint. It will elevate the industry and access to fashion on a global scale.
Julie A. Evans is a Sustainable Fashion Technology Innovator based in MIami. With a decade of experience working in the fashion industry, she is a former Zara (Inditex group) executive who founded Sustalytics, a tech platform for brands and retailers to predict what will sell and avoid overstock waste.