Fashion and music festivals go hand in hand and nowhere more so than at Coachella. Following Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland, Absolut Vodka has launched Absolut.Land, a Coachella inspired pop-up experience in the same virtual world. The launch coincides with the first weekend of the California music festival and headline act is a festival appropriate collection of digital fashion wearables.
“As a brand, we thrive on being at the forefront of culture, and fashion is a large part of that,” says Pam Forbus, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard North America.
During the 90s, Absolut had Tom Ford, John Galliano, Helmut Lang, Versace, Stella McCartney and Jean Paul Gaultier reimagine its bottle design. More recent collaborations include those with Sacai and MSGM.
For its Absolut.Land project, the Pernod Ricard owned brand has linked with cult New York designer Susan Alexandra to make three digital fashion accessories and has created additional pieces including rainbow motif bodycon dresses, shorts and caps inspired by the festival scene and its longstanding involvement with Pride and the LGBTQ+ communities.
However, unlike Sacai’s cooler jacket for its signature bottle, these digital only pieces are designed to be worn by your avatar.
According to Matt Bond, founder of digital consultancy Banquet Labs, Metaverse wearables carry a similar cachet to IRL fashion. “They are used to communicate your status and identity,” he says. “Much like a curated Instagram feed, sporting a rare wearable is basically the new blue check mark for the Metaverse.”
“People have always said that my product lends itself so well to the digital world,” says Susan Alexandra founder, Susan Korn who is known for her colorful beaded bags and jewelry that draw inspiration from food and drink. Real life collaborations include a partnership with Champion sportswear.
She riffed off her bestselling Martini Bag to create avatar earrings while both those and a digital ‘cocktail bag’ drew inspiration from the new Citron flavor Absolut is promoting. She also made a pair of digital flatform shoes — footwear is something she has always wanted to do in real life but has thus far proved too expensive. The joy of digital fashion, she says, is that the creative process is “unbridled by practicality and cost.”
She reveals that the digital design process is remarkably similar to the physical one where she sends a watercolor or an iPad drawing to her director of production. “The (digital) designer asked (similar) questions about how the pieces would move and where they would sit on the body,” she said.
Korn was also attracted by the sustainability angle of digital fashion — something that has always been a key pillar of her brand. Her regular line is all produced in New York City within a couple of miles of her Lower East Side store. Similarly aligned neighbors include the New York flagship of Emily Bode, the 2021 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year who is known for her luxury upcycled one of a kind garments.
While Korn had already planned out the year ahead she’s now reconsidering how she can replace some of her physical launches with Metaverse drops.
Pam Forbus revealed that Absolut has doubled its media investment this fiscal year with nearly 80% going to digital and that it has dedicated about 10% of its annual marketing spend to the Coachella program.
Absolut’s Decentraland experience is a reimagining of its IRL Coachella activations and features an ‘antigravity’ dance floor accessed via a colorful ‘Pride Tunnel’, a gallery based on its physical museum space in Stockholm and a Selfie Room where users can screenshot their avatars. “The Metaverse is a haven for creatives,” says Forbus, “there is so much opportunity to bring various elements to life.”
The Absolut wearables are all free and will be air-dropped to visitors by digital brand ambassadors in exchange for their performing various challenges and sharing photos via social media channels.
While wearables designed for a particular metaverse, in this case Decentraland, can only be worn in Decentraland, Matt Bond predicts that in the future wearables will be transferable between metaverses — to The Sandbox for example — and for this reason, he says, “the value of these assets will only continue to grow.”