Metaverse Fashion Week was a promising prototype for the future. Here’s why.

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After a month of constant hype across social media, digital media and the Internet’s 2.0 and 3.0 incarnations, the first Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) ever debuted on March 24th. For some, the fashion extravaganza – which took place on the Decentraland platform and featured some of the world’s most recognizable luxury brands – was seen as a kind of Web3 democratization of global high fashion.

Instead of the shows being highly exclusive events accessible only to the richest, best-connected or best-known professionals, anyone with a Decentraland avatar could log on and sit in front of the tracks, browse the Luxury Fashion District and take part in lavish after-parties.

But despite all the anticipation surrounding the first MVFW, the event itself was a dilapidated product with no definitive proof of concept. And like almost everything that faltered in its early days, it inspired far more questions than answers. How popular was he really? How profitable would this be for fashion brands? What was the relationship between a brand’s metaverse footprint and the brand in the real world and its physical clothing lines? The uncertainty abounded.

Here is my best attempt to answer some of these questions and overcome some of this uncertainty.

1. MVFW 2022 was the beta year

Decentralized saw 108,000 unique visitors in the four days surrounding MVFW, a number that does not exclusively represent those avatars committed to the fashion show. By comparison, the two annual reruns of New York Fashion Week draw about 230,000 people together. But to compare the first MVFW with its counterparts in real life is ruthless foolishness; while New York Fashion Week has been around in some form since 1943, Decentraland’s version has just launched this year. In other words, it is almost impossible to consider the event a success or failure based on these statistics.

Related: Metaverse Fashion Week: The Future of Fashion Shows

According to countless reports, the procedure had many shortcomings. People have complained about erroneous graphics, delayed processing speeds, and recurring browser crashes. The week’s main events – the parades themselves – were notable for the relatively low level of attendees and the chaotic and unregulated ways in which they interacted with their surroundings (some journalists reported seeing avatars of the public smash the tracks in a roughly simple show). There was, all things considered, a kind of user experience (UX) mess that talked about an event and a world that was still far from its fully matured top form.

However, instead of dwelling too much on all of MVFW’s surface defects, people would be much better off thinking of it as a product in its most rudimentary form – a promising prototype. Decentraland will continue to upgrade its servers and introduce updated versions of its blockchain-based software, and the technology will eventually be able to seamlessly accommodate many more avatars in its virtual reality world. And as the subsequent fashion weeks become more carefully planned and more thoroughly executed – with the kind of learned social norms, etiquette and protocols that reflect the physical world – there is no reason to doubt its sustainability.

2. The Luxury Fashion District is ready for a breakthrough

MVFW has represented the Web3 debuts for some of the world’s most iconic luxury brands, including Selfridges, Dolce & Gabbana, Hogan and Chufy. These brands have officially planted their flags on Decentraland’s metaversal platform by opening their digital stores in the Luxury Fashion District, located in the larger fashion district of Decentraland’s Genesis City. And while reviews of many of the week’s clothing-themed events covered a fairly wide selection, the grand openings of these new “flagship” stores served as a great demonstration of the fashion industry’s opportunities in the metaverse.

Related: Metaverse Wars: What’s the Future of Social Media?

The high-rise buildings occupied buildings with sleek and often futuristic architecture – Selfridge’s state-of-the-art black and purple multi-storey structure resembled two Zeppelin airships stacked on top of each other – careful attention to fine detail and interiors capturing their signature style and dazzling abundance (Dundas) the store featured 3D renderings of the brand’s incomparable panthers with diamond collars). Given how quickly it all came together – and presumably how new to the metaverse most of these brands and their leadership – it was an impressive display.

Perhaps more than anything else, it explained how luxury fashion companies would be able to recreate their coveted store experiences in Web3 in a way that was simply not possible in Web2’s flat, transactional mechanics.

Fashion in Metaverse must and will evolve

Despite all of MVFW’s flashy aesthetics and pomp and circumstance, the event’s relationship to the companies’ actual products remains haphazard and largely unresolved. Some brands like Tommy Hilfiger offered clicks to their main e-commerce sites. Others, like Dundas, have given store visitors the opportunity to buy NFT clothing – clothing and accessories that their avatars can wear in Decentraland. A third hybrid approach allowed individuals to purchase NFTs that could be exchanged for exclusive physical clothing. There was not a single dominant model for how to approach the economic dimension of the fashion week, and many brands probably interpreted it as little more than a marketing opportunity.

Related: Luxury brands are trying to participate in the meta-verse

One of the seemingly inevitable questions I ask myself now is whether the fashion industry – so far an enthusiastic and aggressive early adopter of the meta-verse – will use Web3 as a simple, thinly veiled platform for Web2 capitalism, or whether it has something more grandiose and avant-garde.

As traffic to traditional brick-and-mortar stores continues to decline – even in rare shopping districts like Fifth Avenue – some consumers will nonetheless still demand the immersive, couture experience of going through designer stores’ carefully curated and fair environments and searching for the perfect accessory, garment or beauty item. The possibilities for Decentraland and Metaverse to regain that sense of material enchantment and fulfill a seemingly timeless desire are virtually limitless. Only time will tell whether luxury brands take full advantage of this.

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