MILAN — The OTB Group is ready to hit the metaverse.
The parent company of Diesel, Maison Margiela and Jil Sander, among other brands, said Tuesday it has established a company called Brave Virtual Xperience, or BVX, to help brands across its portfolio develop projects, products and initiatives intended for the metaverse.
“This is one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on. We can write the future of the brands and of society and the way the latter will live in the upcoming world,” the executive told WWD.
“It is no different from the birth of the internet, when everybody grasped its potential but no one could really exploit it. I think we are facing a similar scenario. The blockchain and metaverse are offering new perspectives on how we will live, and that’s very cool,” he added.
Rosso, an avid gamer and CEO of D-Cave, a lifestyle gaming platform, is tasked with spearheading the competence center in developing a “new means of direct interaction with the end consumer, with the goal of strengthening the engagement and expand the offering of digital products,” the Breganze, Italy-based group said in a statement.
Although he declined to provide investment figures, Rosso said they will be “a consequence of the action plan we are defining and also a consequence of how much each brand in the portfolio will want to exploit the metaverse.”
To be sure, the metaverse could represent a lucrative opportunity for luxury brands. According to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, social gaming could add up to $20 billion to the luxury sector’s total addressable market, while NFTs in the form of luxury collectibles could become a $25 billion business in Morgan Stanley’s “blue-sky analysis.”
While revenues from these digital streams are negligible now, metaverse gaming and NFTs could represent 10 percent of luxury’s addressable market by 2030, the investment firm predicts.
OTB chairman Renzo Rosso said: “I have always believed that technology could be the next frontier in the fashion world. With BVX we will become pioneers of our industry in the digital and metaverse worlds, presiding the virtual worlds and anticipating the needs of new generation consumers,” he added.
Stefano Rosso concurred. “The explosion of metaverses pushed the group to understand that it was crucial to not only work on the physical component, but also express each brand’s potential in new virtual worlds,” he said. “It’s yet to be determined how society and people will adopt and blend their physical and virtual lives and, moving from there, we’ll be able to understand the real business potential.”
The goal of BVX is to work across brands while forging ties with the main players in the gaming and metaverse worlds. Rosso said group brands are holding conversations about their plans for the metaverse, but made clear that he sees the opportunity as a tangible business driver, rather than a marketing tool.
“Making such a big step as a company is a testament to the fact that we’re taking this very seriously. It will become a pivotal asset to flank existing distributing channels,” he offered.
The blockchain technology is expected to enable the group in fully exploiting the potential of virtual worlds turning them into business drivers, Rosso said.
As a founding partner of the Aura Blockchain Consortium, which it joined in October, OTB will rely on it as a technology partner to BVX, helping the latter capitalize on virtual items. Stefano Rosso is also a board member of the Aura Blockchain Consortium.
“Technology changed the premises for such a project, making it all the more interesting,” Rosso said, referring to the blockchain-enabled opportunities in the metaverse.
“It’s up to brands to fully exploit the potential offered by technology.…The aim of BVX is to create and develop interesting initiatives, actions and partnerships encompassing the blockchain technology. They are two tiles of the same puzzle,” he said.
The executive underscored how OTB has always been at the forefront of the digital conversation, having set up an e-commerce site as far back as the ‘90s, partnered with sci-fi videogame G-Police in the early 2000s and launched a Diesel partnership with The Sims in 2009. Most recently, the denim company unveiled a new hero sneaker called the Prototype, which also comes as an NFT, thanks to a partnership with neuno.io — a start-up platform aiming to become the luxury NFT marketplace.
According to Rosso, BVX is also embracing a start-up mindset, in sync with tech companies operating in this field. Currently operating with a small team, his aim is to set up a “dynamic company,” which is based in Milan but will preserve a flexible structure.