Metaverse Fashion Week recap: How 2 brands tackled the NFT opportunity

Two of many brands taking part in Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week over the weekend, Gen-Z fashion brand Cider and premium American brand Tommy Hilfiger approached the opportunity with different NFT strategies. 

The fashion NFT space has been boosted by its own dedicated event on a gaming platform with the Decentraland fashion week. As the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week, it featured fashion shows, galleries and brand-hosted panels that were shown in Decentraland’s Fashion District through March 27. Bringing in traditional brands like DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Paco Rabanne, Etro, Estée Lauder and Forever 21, as well as Hermès reseller Prive Porter, the brand presence at the event was split between traditional brands and digitally native ones. Digitally native brands include DeadFellaz, DressX, The Dematerialised, FangGang, Auroboros and Mortiverse.

The fashion week was positioned as an experiment and proved to be a good way for brands to test out different approaches when it comes to launching digital stores and campaigns, as well as NFTs. 

Cider, a Gen-Z e-commerce brand launched in 2020, has largely avoided going down the traditional retailer route, which was reflected in its Metaverse Fashion Week strategy. With no physical store, it opted out of setting up a store in Decentraland. Instead, it used its Decentraland space to create a fun in-game experience for its consumers. Titled Ciderland, the space featured a photo wall and rainbow design mural. It was created in partnership with Boson Portal, the metaverse service platform from blockchain company Boson Protocol. The brand also hosted a dedicated fashion show on Saturday to play into the experiential gaming experience.  

“We are realizing that the metaverse and Web3 are trends that are really happening, and we want to meet our audience where they are. How we [approach] the space is [ensuring] it’s not about marketing fluff, but it’s all about providing a good experience for the audience. In Web3 terms, it’s a utility, [where you can] have a good experience hanging out there virtually, and where you could buy something, even something tangible.” said Yu Oppel, co-founder of Cider.

The experience offered opportunities to buy Cider digital wearables for Decentraland avatars. With the purchase of a Cider digital wearable NFT, consumers automatically received access to Ciderland in Decentraland. Moving forward, they’ll also receive access to exclusive promotions, as well as IRL and digital events.

The ultra-fast fashion brand has already been engaging with its consumers on Instagram and Discord. Oppel said Gen-Z consumers appreciate brand efforts to build a community. “We would love to use the metaverse as a way to engage with our audience on a long-term basis,” she said. “In the future, they could help us vote on what kind of a collection to make or what kind of style directions we take, or they could meet us somewhere for an exciting new real life event. The possibilities are endless.” 

Gaining constant insight from social media polls and direct insights from its Gen-Z employees, the brand has a foothold on the Gen-Z market. It sells in over 100 countries and has 2.7 million followers on Instagram. It completed its B round of funding in September last year, and is valued at over $1 billion, making it one of the fastest growing unicorn companies in the world. Earlier this month, Cider polled its Instagram followers and found that nearly 60% have no clue what an NFT is, echoing other recent statistics. While Gen Z’s interest in NFT’s may be small, gaming is decidedly popular among the demo. According to Newzoo’s annual gaming report, 81% of Gen Zers have played a game in the past six months, making it the highest share of any generation. Therefore, Cider is launching a dedicated infographic serving as an NFT explainer on its Instagram. It’s also inviting its community to ask questions about NFTs through their Discord. 

“If we are entering a new space, it’s important that we help our audience understand the whys of us doing it in the first place and really explain the whole thing to them,” said Oppel. In addition, Cider is interested in bringing more Decentraland gamers to the brand. The hope is that its Metaverse Fashion Week presence was effective in doing so.

Meanwhile, American fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger, a comparatively more traditional company, has already been experimenting with the metaverse across multiple platforms, and Decentraland’s fashion week simply provided another opportunity to engage with this new audience. For the event, it set up a store in Decentraland’s Fashion District. Prior, there was the 2020 launch of “Tommy Island” in Animal Crossing, a strategic Roblox partnership in 2021 and the March 2022 launch of Team Tommy, a community-led initiative incorporating eight gamers as brand influencers and livestreamers, as a means of further stepping into the gaming world. 

In the store, the brand virtually showcased its spring 2022 collection via floating 3D renderings of styles, in partnership with Boson Protocol. Its customers were also able to shop for phygital items, in the form of NFTs for their avatars and their physical counterparts. Phygital items are an increasingly popular proposition, according to Justin Banon, co-founder of Boson Protocol. 

“The huge trend that’s coming this summer — because we’re already building this for a group of people — is high-end items being sold as digi-physicals,” he said.”If you buy a high-end, physical handbag, you’re going to expect it to come with an NFT wearable. And if you buy an NFT wearable, then it’s gonna come with the physical equivalent. It’s a merging of worlds.”

Get news and analysis about fashion, beauty and culture delivered to your inbox every morning.