A monumental change was announced on October 28, 2021, sending shockwaves through the technological community and now the world. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, and chief executive of Facebook, announced the platform will now rebrand as Meta Platforms Inc. or Meta for short. Zuckerberg holds a visionary of a future employing a mix of virtual reality and other technological components, bringing the internet to life.
Clothing will play a big part in this universe, freeing individuals from real-world restrictions and encouraging unique and personal styles. This immersive experience holds promise to the ever-changing fashion industry, further alleviating boundaries between fashion and technology, intersecting the former with the latter. Our technology-driven values at ÀLA.HAUSSE hopes to align with the future way of living, creating greener spaces both in the physical, and virtual world.
Imagine it as a digital world of interconnected communities, using components of virtual and augmented reality to create a hyper alternative environment where we coexist to meet, work, and play. From shopping and concerts to conferences and worldwide traveling trips, the next evolution of connectivity will alter the way we communicate. With the use of augmented reality glasses, virtual reality headsets, and other forms of mediums, users will be teleported in a world tailored to their desires. If we learned one thing from the pandemic, it is that technology is uprising faster than ever before.
The term was first coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel entitled, “Snow Crash”, in which people control avatars in a virtual 3D world; shopping, socializing, living in a realistic environment that converges physical and augmented properties in a shared online space. Many developments were made in creating and accessing such domains, with Fornite holding virtual concerts in their games or Microsoft preparing to launch holograms in Microsoft Teams, yet Facebook is determined to be a front-line pioneer in their developments.
Although Meta estimates it would take roughly 10 years to construct and popularize the features of the metaverse, the ongoing development of this initiative is ensured to alter the way we function in the future.
Apparel is going to play a big factor in the metaverse, one of the key features in this world will be the way we present ourselves, just as it is here on Earth. The difference being all norms and restrictions we reside in today, do not exist in the metaverse; there will not be a need to obey existing principles and with the elimination of determinants such as distance and smaller markets, the increased accessibility of fashion is expected to change the way we approach clothing.
In his presentation of this initiative, Zuckerberg showed a glimpse of what to expect in terms of the digital wear aspect in this virtual world. Immersed in the world, he approaches his closet with an avatar doppelgänger standing adjacent, swiping through his closet to change the avatar’s outfit before heading to a shared virtual space. He explains users will have a wardrobe of different clothes for different occasions, stylized to their liking with designs from different apps and creators. Virtual wear changes the landscape of the industry, colliding real and digital fashion opportunities.
Meta’s inclusion of digital fashion is not the first time we have seen it in the industry, with the importance of virtual properties significantly increasing in the past years from the abrupt shift online, the acclaim of digital fashion shows, NFT’s, augmented reality beauty and other alike
products have skyrocketed.
The fashion house marked its entry into the virtual sphere once it announced a collaboration with Fortnite. On the platform, limited edition Balenciaga pieces were released for Fornite avatars, crossing boundaries between the virtual and physical and raising the prime value of its sought-out apparel.
In partnership with department store Selfridges, clothing brand Charli Cohen created a digital shopping experience in honour of Pokemon’s 25 anniversary. This experience was held in a digital space through a browser, phone, or augmented reality in stores, allowing users to shop through the virtual store and look for prizes
D&G set an astounding record for $6 million in sales for fashion NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, and for being the first luxury brand to incorporate NFTs in their business model when hosting an auction with the UNXD marketplace, selling a nine-piece virtual collection.
Selling out a gallery of NFTs in 10 minutes at the OpenSea marketplace, Rebecca Minkoff worked with Yahoo and The Dematerialised on 400 virtual garments. Using Yahoo’s XR immersive platform to build the collection, this effort showed the gradual uprising of NFTs and fashion.
With the term “metaverse” being mentioned during investor presentations 128 times so far in 2021, compared to the 7 times last year, the trend of fashion companies colliding with the virtual world is expected to rapidly expand.
With the fashion industry contributing to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, it is no question that sustainability efforts need to be driven within the industry. Currently, people are purchasing 60% more garments than they were 20 years ago, with 85% of textiles ending up in landfills each year.
Although textiles account for a large percentage of environmentally harmful consequences caused by fashion, there are many underlying efforts causing great damage to ecosystems worldwide as well. For example, a 2020 research report on travel taken by designers and buyers when attending major fashion weeks, such as London, Milan, Paris, and New York generated 241,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. This number is equivalent to the Eiffel Tower being lit for 30,60 years or 51,000 cars on the road. With hundreds of other fashion weeks being held, the total carbon footprint from travel alone is significant.
With the empowerment and use of digital wear, now present in the metaverse, modern technological developments can create a new route of sustainability.
When Helinski Fashion Week went purely digital this year, the carbon footprint per visitor dropped from 137kg to 0.66kg. Digital wear reduces the overproduction of clothes, saves time, and consumes fewer materials, saving 3,300 liters of water per garment and emitting 97% less carbon emission. The future of virtual fashion is an opportunity to reroute the current carbon footprint of the industry, lean forward towards eco-friendly practices, and make a long-lasting impact.
With the metaverse being in its early stages of development, there is no telling of the change it will create in the way we shop, dress, and approach fashion. The current foundation depicts a promising future, where fashion and sustainability are synonymous, where digital wear becomes a catalyst for eco-friendly initiatives in the fashion industry.
With the alignment of values between ÀLA.HAUSSE and the metaverse, there are endless possibilities of what is to come; perhaps an integration into the virtual universe, bridging the gap of carbon emissions created by digital wear even further, or the adoption of augmented reality within the application. Although there is an exciting unpredictability, one thing is certain, the opening of the metaverse will present sustainable options we have not dreamt of yet.