How Luxury Retail’s Big Metaverse Fashion Week Experiment In Decentraland Played Out With Virtual Stores, NFT Wearables, A Bored Ape Collaboration And More

Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) offered a key element missing from its physical counterparts. Beyond the digital shows and virtual parties that took place from March 24-27, the event featured a standout official showcase for retail: purpose-built pop-up stores by luxury stalwarts like Selfridges, Tommy Hilfiger, Etro , Dolce & Gabbana and Dundas World.

Located for the most part in pop-up shopping malls, these offered a combination of portable NFT devices to store one’s avatar in Metaverse Decentraland (DCL) and limited-edition physical pieces redeemable via NFT, both purchasable only in cryptocurrency. The appeal of the latter is that DCL was the only place to get them.

These stores also served as a showcase for the physical collections with access to the brands’ usual e-commerce sites.

Users were directed to the DCL market to purchase the DCL-specific wearables that their avatars could try on to see what they look like, both static and in motion, which is a nice touch.

Enabling technology created by the Boston Protocol fintech team meant that NFT ‘receipts’ for physical parts were available directly from stores of participating brands such as Hilfiger and Hogan.

While many retailers took advantage of temporary spaces offered for free during Metaverse Fashion Week, Philipp Plein opted to purchase “real estate” for a longer-term installation.

He bought $1.4 million worth of land in DCL to build a 120-foot-tall skyscraper and ‘Plein Plaza’, where he has already opened a gallery called the NFT Museum of Arts (MONA). He put on a show at the property about MVFW, featuring an exclusive Metaverse collection of seven digital sets for avatars to rock out at DCL. Among them was a matching quilted coat and bucket hat combo emblazoned with the ‘Lil Monsters’ characters he created with artist Antoni Tudisco.

While cryptocurrencies are often talked about as a barrier to sales, Selfridges and fellow British designer Roksanda Ilincic have previously opted to sell NFTs in sterling, which Plein sees as an advantage. Since last year, it has given buyers of physical goods the option to pay with cryptocurrency, both in-store and online. “It has been a great success,” he said, “we receive $100,000 in crypto payments every day.”

Hogan, owned by Tod’s Group, launched a collection of NFTs in association with the luxury NFT marketplace Exclusible. Through the aforementioned Boston Protocol technology, they can be redeemed for physical sneakers created in collaboration with artists from the digital creative studio Braw Haus. When the curtain falls on MVFW, the Hogan store will remain in DCL for six months.

Nicholas Kirkwood offered DCL-specific digital boots made in association with the Metaverse community character White Rabbit. Next up will be NFT collectible artwork featuring booted incarnations of said bunny. For the shoemaker who has long been obsessed with both technology and animation, “it feels natural, almost like coming home.”

“It’s very exciting from a creative angle, because you’re not limited by gravity and you can make materials do really magical things,” he says. “It also opens up the brand to a whole new audience through the NFT community.”

Upcycled fashion brand Buzzy Imitation of Christ collaborated with NFT’s final success story Bored Ape Yacht Club on sweater dresses featuring the Metaverse’s most famous monkeys. They also took the political statement into account in their in-store visual marketing through a ‘no war’ installation and banners expressing support for Ukraine.

French e-commerce accessories platform Monnier Paris (formerly Monnier Frères) was another early adopter of Web 3.0, selling digital wearables created by digital native clothing team Republiqe on its own website since last year. It launched a cryptocurrency payment option last week.

For the DCL store, Republiqe founder James Gaubert created limited-edition apparel from Monnier’s brands, including Coach, Wandler and Ester Manas. For example, users can purchase the new Coach Tabby Pillow bag for their avatars to carry, or click through to the virtual store to go to the Monnier Paris website and purchase the real thing.

Gaubert is optimistic about the possibilities of web 3.0 for retail. “It’s the most exciting thing for fashion since the Singer sewing machine he teased at Monnier’s IRL MVFW launch party in Paris.

DCL Foundation Creative Director Sam Hamilton agrees. In the future, he says, “there will be metaverses where you can try on clothes with your own face and body shape (as opposed to your avatar like on the DCL Marketplace) so you can really see what it looks like on you before. you buy them

For the record, at least one of the big luxury groups is currently building its own proprietary Metaverse.

Dundas World used its pop-up store and the closing MVFW fashion show on Monday at 2am EST as vehicles to introduce an IRL collection of 12 click-to-buy styles on its e-commerce website. Visual merchandising was on trend, featuring the brand’s signature panthers wearing diamond collars.

The next step will be the virtual versions made by the digital native fashion team DressX. The two brands previously collaborated on clothing Dundas made for Mary J. Blige’s Super Bowl performance in January. Keep an eye out for the next installment at the Grammy Awards next week.

Another celebrity-friendly designer who took part was Giuseppe Zanotti. While he didn’t have his own store, he did partner with NFT collective DeadFellaz and fashion marketplace Neuno on a series of 1,000 digital wearables of his signature Cobra sneaker done in a zingy parrot green.

Estée Lauder was the only beauty brand to participate. To promote her famous Night Serum, creative director Alex Box designed a free glow aura that avatars could call in from Estée’s MVFW activation slot via a giant dropper based on the IRL bottle. Essentially, it just involved the kind of sparkly filter she might get on Instagram, but it was still a novel way for the beauty to join the conversation.

As for Selfridges, its billowing DCL building based on its brick-and-mortar Birmingham store sold nothing at all. Instead, he opted for an exhibition of 12 NFT dresses with Paco Rabanne inspired by the pioneer of the Op Art movement, Victor Vasarely. This mirrors a real life exhibition at Selfridges London. The UK-based retailer has long been at the forefront of experiential commerce within physical space, so it made sense for the virtual equivalent to do the same.

According to Selfridges Creative Director Sebastian Manes, it is through such experimentation that the retailer continues to innovate. “This is how we test, learn and decide in the long run what works for our brand and our customers,” he said, adding that he is currently evaluating new applications for Web 3.0 blockchain technology.

One particular area of ​​interest is within ReSelfridges, the brand’s luxury resale arm, as registry-based technology offers a means of authenticating provenance.

As in the early days of the Internet and e-commerce, Web 3.0 still has a long way to go in terms of user experience, which is far from perfect. However, as every brand representative interviewed here will testify, the opportunities are immense and this is a great retail experiment that they are confident they will benefit from in the long run. *WAGMI.