Fashion, design and luxury brands spend a lot of time and money protecting their intellectual property, but the boundaries around creative ownership are fast blurring due to a host of Web3-focused companies that are eager to collaborate with fans and customers.
Metaverse fashion is still in its early stages, and there are myriad kinks that need to be resolved, including the optimization of clothing and accessories on different platforms; high-quality image definition, and the ability of garments to move and flow as if they were made from real silk or satin.
There is a big learning issue, too. Where does an aspiring fashion student learn how to create a couture gown fit for a metaverse event, and how do creative platforms like DressX, The Fabricant and Auroboros enlist as many users as possible to help test their technologies?
It all requires a new, and more collaborative, way of thinking.
Cocreation is the answer, said Alissa Aulbekova, creative director and cofounder of Auroboros, which creates physical couture and digital-only ready-to-wear. “Brands that are very established and have their own legacy need to see, and exploit, the point of view of Gen Z,” she said.
“That’s where you’ll get a genuine response, and new designs that will be long-lasting. Work with Gen Z and you’ll be able to create a legacy for the future, something joyful and fun, and super-important for fashion.”
Michaela Larosse, head of content and strategy at The Fabricant, the London-based fashion house that creates digital couture and fashion experiences, said Web3 is all about “decentralization, letting go of creative control, and allowing the audience to cocreate.”
She believes that “building the wardrobe of the metaverse” has to be a group effort.
At The Fabricant, anyone can make their own digital fashion garments, and mint them as an NFT.
“We invite brands and artists to create the silhouettes and digital fabrics. And then the audience member gets to come in and become a cocreator and receive equal recognition in the creation of the garment, which is a big step forward,” she said.
When a cocreated piece is sold, The Fabricant takes a 10 percent cut, and then the revenue is divided evenly among the designer, the fabric maker and the person minting the NFT.
The Fabricant isn’t stopping there in its quest to democratize metaverse fashion: Larosse and the team is already offering free Twitch sessions in a bid to “demystify” the process of fashion design, laying bare the tools, tech and techniques involved.
She said the next step is to open a digital fashion academy where people will be able to learn about Web3 skills and knowledge, such as blockchain and crypto, so designers are equipped to mint and sell their creations.
“Our team loves this kind of teaching and imparting their knowledge about the space, and it’s incredibly important that we onboard as many people as we can into the environment. Looking ahead, we will need to create billions of garments in the metaverse, so more people need to participate.
“These aren’t necessarily conversations that are being had in fashion schools right now, but they are going to be part of the future of the industry. Getting that knowledge and skill set out there is incredibly important. Our academy is not quite evolved yet, but that’s where we’re going,” Larosse said.
Daria Shapovalova, founder and chief executive officer of DressX, a platform that aims to offer an “infinite digital closet,” and sells items for people to wear on their social feeds and video calls, or to dress their online avatars, focused instead on sustainability opportunities in the space.
“Digital fashion has the answer to [physical] mass market production,” she said, adding that one of the first people the DressX hired was a chief sustainability officer.
“We publish all this data on our website, and we have patented methodology of how to calculate the impact of digital versus physical fashion, including CO2 and water usage. It’s better to try and see the opportunity” that Web3 fashion offers.
Asked about what advice they would offer to future entrepreneurs in the metaverse design space, all three women said communication, engagement and a bold approach were key.
“Start now! Don’t be afraid and don’t wait because it’s better to be among the first hundred people embracing something new. I would encourage everyone to start as soon as possible, to try, to fail, to make mistakes. Understand what’s best for your brands, but obviously do not lose your DNA,” said Shapovalova.
Aulbekova of Auroboros urged prospective business leaders to “get to know your community. Your audience can be so generous, so giving. When you feel the connection, that’s when the cocreation happens.”
She speaks from experience.
Auroboros started by using biomimicry to create one-of-a-kind pieces that grow on the body, and then fall apart. Last year, the company introduced rtw during London Fashion Week and invited consumers to try pieces on via Snapchat by scanning QR codes on Auroboros billboards and posters throughout London.
Larosse said Web 3.0 audiences “expect to interact with your team,” and there always needs to be “an open two-way conversation, and a community. Everything is storytelling, it always has been, and always will be. And it’s incredibly important for this space. People want to buy into your story as much as they do your aesthetic. Both of those things are incredibly important,” she said.
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