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Metaverse Fashion Week: The hits and misses

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Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week received far more industry attention than any digital fashion event before it.

Its arrival was timely — peak hype even, as the metaverse and NFTs move into popular lexicon. Virtual real estate platform Decentraland jumped at the opportunity to recruit fashion brands and fans to its blockchain-based platform for the four-day event. The verdict so far? Mixed and possibly premature, but in terms of excitement and eyeballs, a success, according to brands and metaverse consultants.

“It is just the beginning. We need to take one step at a time,” says Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, the head of Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW). As browsers and computers become more powerful, she adds, the quality will improve and more closely resemble the results that the fashion community often expects. Overall, Casimiro says, feedback from participating brands is that they are happy with the result; organisers are already planning to take what they learned from the first iteration and apply it to the next event, which is slated to take place a year from now.

The series of fashion-focused events, which ended Sunday, attracted a wide variety of brands and creatives, including Etro, Dundas, Dolce & Gabbana and Estée Lauder. Still, some notable players in the metaverse, including Gucci and Ralph Lauren, did not participate. The entire experience was blockchain-based, created on land sold as NFTs and digital fashion bought and worn as NFTs.

For some, especially those who have been developing digital fashion for years, it was too soon to broadcast a blockchain-based fashion event and too late to position this as the best that digital fashion technology can do, based on other examples of high-profile projects. On LinkedIn, the digital fashion community traded notes: “The user experience might need to improve just a tad to facilitate mass adoption,” wrote Anne-Christine Polet, who is leading PVH Corp’s 3D design capabilities. “The future looks like the past,” commented Kerry Murphy, co-founder of digital fashion house The Fabricant, which created the first NFT dress ever sold. But, he added, while the user experience is “from the ’90s”, development is speeding up and will be better next year.

According to feedback from other attendees, the graphics were rudimentary compared to previous digital fashion events, such as the Fabric of Reality show in 2020 or Gucci’s Roblox garden in 2021, and the experience was often compromised by glitches, including massive delays or events turning into black screens of code, that made it challenging at times to experience planned events. It was also hard to visualise turnout, as when Decentraland gets crowded, it automatically places visitors in multiple different realms.