In a new series from Glossy, we are looking at what brands have entered the metaverse this past month, why it matters and what they are bringing to the table. Here, the metaverse is defined as the future of the internet, a shared 3D virtual universe that users can exist in perpetually.
The next generation of this online reality will be across many metaverses that all have different characteristics and communities, as we wrote this month in our NFT explainer. According to Gucci, the brand of the moment, it’s “only a matter of time” before major fashion houses get into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other aspects of digital fashion. With fashion month wrapping in October, many brands worked NFT’s and digital garments into their collections.
Here we have a look at five brands that have taken the leap and stepped through the digital door into the metaverse.
D&G: Digital NFT’s dripping in the brand’s signature lavish style
As we covered early last month, D&G has come under fire for discrimination, primarily through its social media statements. The Collezione Genesi, or Genesis Collection, was its first collection that also included NFT’s, or non-fungible tokens, that could be bought and exchanged digitally. It fetched approximately $5.65 million when its auction concluded at the end of September, but news of the sale came out later. The collection was hosted by luxury marketplace UNXD, which functions on the Polygon platform that facilitates the building and connecting of blockchains.
Why it matters: UNXD’s D&G drop was the first-ever by a major luxury fashion brand to include NFTs. While other brands (see below) have worked with gaming platforms on NFT’s, this was the first that came directly from a luxury brand. Although D&G doesn’t have the best brand image and has entered the space first, it should not dissuade others from creating their own NFT collections.
Rebecca Minkoff: A NYFW renaissance through NFT’s
To correspond with the brand’s “I Love New York” collection shown at this season’s New York Fashion Week, Rebecca Minkoff worked with digital marketplace The Dematerialised and Yahoo on 400 digital garments. They sold out in auction at OpenSea, a peer-to-peer marketplace, in 10 minutes. The gallery of the NFT’s, including 10 photos of models in the brand’s outfits and five digital garments, was created by Yahoo, which worked in partnership with the brand.
Why it matters: This shows a different approach to creating digital collections through a media buy by Yahoo, for which this is their first NFT collaboration. The whole NFT collection was built in-house using Yahoo’s XR immersive platform. Rebecca Minkoff is known for working with alternative platforms like Clubhouse and Only Fans, and is a keen explorer of the digital space. Most importantly, the collection was also a charitable venture, as all of the proceeds from the sales were donated to the Female Founder Collective.
Balenciaga: The big drop on Fortnite
Rather than an NFT collection, the Balenciaga x Fortnite collaboration was a definitive entry into the immersive game that is Fortnite. There, online communities rule and digital garments are presented as limited edition drops, raising the value of highly sought-out pieces. Balenciaga is not necessarily a new entry into the gaming world, as its fall 2021 collection was presented in a closed gaming environment called “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow,” created using Unreal Engine. However, the direct entry into the gaming world is one that hasn’t been seen that much since users started creating high fashion collections in “Animal Crossing” at the start of the pandemic. Brands soon joined in — and, in fact, some brands are still creating fashion for AC.
Why it matters: Balenciaga has been quick to adopt new formats, but even it has not created its own NFT collection or brought a bigger brand presence to the metaverse space. Will its approach be the marker for how other luxury fashion brands navigate digital?
Charli Cohen: Creating a Pokemon shopping world with Selfridges
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokemon, clothing brand Charli Cohen launched a digital shopping experience in a digital space with Selfridges, the British high-end department store. The immersive digital shopping experience was accessible via a phone or browser, while an in-store pop-up allowed shoppers to use AR to wander around the store and look for prizes. Developed by Yahoo Ryot Lab, the “Electric City” and Kaleidodrip collection echo a similar environment to that of the latest Pokemon film.
Why it matters: Selfridges is one of the first shopping centers to get involved in AR through a dedicated space, and the collaboration allows it to touch different consumer bases, from long-time gamers and fans of Pokemon to traditional fashion consumers through Charli Cohen. Shopping experiences are already going through an evolution as stores become more experiential, and this collaboration allows for fantasy to enter the IRL. While the exploration aspect is limited, it shows the possibilities of digital for the more traditional retailer framework.
Clinique: A beauty NFT as a prize for social engagement
Clinique launched its first NFT last week with a social media campaign competition, allowing entrants to win one of three NFTs inspired by the brand’s most iconic products, Black Honey and Moisture Surge. It also granted early access to shop Black Honey Almost Lipstick (once back in stock) and products via an assortment of Clinique products delivered once a year over the next decade. In its posts across Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, users were prompted to answer, “How do you bring hope and optimism to the people around you, and who brings a smile to your face?” for a chance to win while tagging #MetaOptimist, #Clinique and #Contest in the caption. The campaign is unique in the way that it targets the brand’s existing users, bringing them into the digital space. It even tapped Cathy Hackl, CEO of the Futures Intelligence Group, to help co-develop the strategy for the drop.
Why it matters: The brand is one of a few that have regained popularity through cult products lauded on social media. It used the contest to build on its organic following across the platforms. This is a smart move that shows the brand’s engagement in the space. Clinique is the first brand in the Estée Lauder Companies portfolio to launch NFTs. The initiative reflects the company’s leading commitment to blockchain technologies and its desire to meet its consumers where they are.