What it takes to build metaverse fashion week

Here’s what to expect from Decentraland’s virtual rendition of fashion week this year.
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· 5 min read

Metaverse Fashion Week 2022 spanned three days in virtual world Decentraland. The event featured more than 60 brands and Web3 projects, and included shops, fashion shows, and phygital sales. Dolce & Gabbana’s catwalk featured cat models, and Grimes performed live. And the whole thing came together in just three months.

When Head of Metaverse Fashion Week Giovanna Casimiro joined Decentraland in 2021, the wheels were already in motion to get a virtual fashion week off the ground.

“There is already an established economy of wearables in the platform,” she told Retail Brew. “There were already established designers creating 3D clothing and people consuming 3D clothing in that ecosystem.”

Casimiro is bringing the event back to that digital fashion ecosystem at the end of March. MFW 2023 will be a feat of both fashion and technology, bringing in augmented reality and live components, not to mention a slew of new brands. To prepare, Decentraland has been tightening up the tech and partnering with other virtual worlds.

Casimiro herself has a background that spans pattern design and dyes in the physical fashion world and digital experiences including augmented and virtual reality. She also has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. focusing on art and mixed realities (That’s Doctor Casimiro to you!).

Building fashion week on the internet

Putting together MFW isn’t all that different from putting on a live event, Casimiro explained.

To get brands ready, there are three phases: onboarding, creative ideation, then several rounds of execution testing, she said. And this year’s batch of brands are coming prepared.

“Last year, the major challenge was to really make the discussion tangible [so] brands could really understand and feel grounded in what they were doing,” Casimiro said.

In 2022, brands weren’t familiar with the creative possibilities open to them in the metaverse, she explained. “This year, I can feel more maturity,” Casimiro said. “They know better how they want to target and who they want to target.”

In the past 12 months, many brands have made their own NFTs and metaverse activations and have a vision for connecting those projects, she said. And, more importantly, many have started to build out their own in-house metaverse and Web3 teams, and are bringing more senior executives into the process.

At MFW 2023, expect to see brands incorporating their physical stores, for example by hosting simultaneous events digitally and in brick-and-mortar, or by offering physical MFW goods in their shops, Casimiro said.

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Creative juices: “Fashion week is always a grind,” said David Cummings, founder of metaverse design studio MetaSkins, which facilitates brand activations in Decentraland. “It’s that big activation that a lot of physical brands know about and want to take part,” he told Retail Brew.

This year, brands are pushing beyond their comfort zones when it comes to the runway, so expect some out of this world wearables, Cummings said. “A lot of the creations that are coming to us are meant to be the bridge between something wacky in the physical form, but also implementing that digital touch.”

Whole new updated world: Casimiro said several takeaways from MFW 2022 have led to changes in this year’s event, starting with the runway shows.

The length of last year’s shows mirrored physical fashion weeks, with each show lasting about 20 minutes. “That was tricky, because in the metaverse, not everyone is there at the same time,” she explained.

This year, shows will be on a one-hour loop, giving visitors a bigger window to watch. And events will be more condensed, with parties happening in the same locations as shows, and with more signage to point visitors in the right direction.

Not all brands want to sell wearables or host a runway show, Casimiro added. Some are planning NFT giveaways and gated experiences for holders of their own tokens, while Dolce & Gabbana is working on a co-creation project with up and coming designers, Casimiro said.

But the biggest change with this year’s fashion week is the increased interoperability: MFW 2023 will also include other metaverses, including Over the Reality and Spatial, to bring the event to life on multiple platforms.

Over founder Diego Di Tomasso, whose platform focuses on AR, said the move to expand beyond Decentraland is an important one, and pointed to cross-platform wearables as evidence that the collaboration is making the metaverse more useful for consumers.

  • Casimiro said Decentraland is now offering linked wearables, allowing digital items to cross in and out of the platform.

Over is planning an augmented reality catwalk for this year’s MFW, which will involve a physical (but empty) catwalk in Milan, where a live audience will only be able to see models through their mobile devices.

“We are bringing the metaverse out of the VR world and to the physical world, and mixing it together,” Di Tomasso said.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.