What is the meaning of Meta?
On Thursday, all the online — and offline — chatter was about Facebook’s new Meta announcement, and Mark Zuckerberg’s bet on the next big computing platform, or “embodied internet,” as he described it in a slickly produced video outlining investments his company is making in the future concept.
Naturally, there was a lot of cynicism about renaming the parent company (but not its individual apps) at a time when Facebook is in the fight of its life, trying to prove that it’s not the dark lord destroying American democracy.
And at a Mytheresa lunch I attended at the Hotel Bel-Air, there were also some snickers about the less-than-inspiring blue Meta chain link logo, which didn’t find much favor among the luxury fashion-loving set.
(It was one of several events that e-commerce platform Mytheresa held in Los Angeles this week, to get to know the city’s style mavens, among them Thursday’s lunch host Nyakio Grieco, founder of Thirteen Lune, fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson, journalist Jessica Yellin, and super-stylist Jeanne Yang.)
But there was also a great deal of dream talk about the fashion and style opportunities for Facebook’s slice of the metaverse.
“They will need furniture and rugs in the metaverse,” suggested John Frierson, president of The Novogratz, the L.A. interior and product design brand created by Cortney and Robert Novogratz, the hip, arty couple with seven kids who have been featured on several reality shows.
Meta, at least as it was shown in the keynote video, could use a bit of Novogratz whimsy.
Not that Zuckerberg’s Pacific Northwest sci-fi modern lair, with a floating fireplace and outdoor workout islands, was not interior-designed, all the way down to the family photos on his shelves…it was just a bit bland.
One of the promises of Meta, which aims to jump-start the metaverse, not own it (riiight!), is that anyone will be able to design their own spaces, and worlds, via its proprietary social virtual reality platforms Horizon Home and Horizon Worlds.
“This isn’t about spending more time on-screen, it’s about making that time better,” said Zuckerberg, extolling the New Age-y virtue of presence the virtual world will somehow create. “In the next decade, we hope to reach 1 billion people and host hundreds of billions in commerce.”
Fashion will be part of that — “a wardrobe of virtual clothes,” as he put it, showing off a tech bro’s favorite monochrome T-shirt and pants uniform, a space suit and a skeleton costume as potential options.
“I want to provide ways for as many people as possible to create in the metaverse,” he went on, explaining that he will try to keep creator fees as low as possible. Does that mean, at last, we will all be able to become digital fashion designers?
Zuckerberg also said Meta is exploring new ownership models — so that digital objects and wardrobes can move from one app to another, but also no doubt, so that all those NFTs the 1 percent have been gobbling up can be displayed exclusively in their digital spaces. Because someone has to show off that $69 million Beeple, right?
To explain the commerce potential of Meta, director of product Vishal Shah took the floor, along with Nigerian-American beauty content creator Jackie Aina, founder of the Southern California-based brand of scented candles Forvrmood.
Aina brought a whiff of feminine mod to Meta, creating her own virtual brand world of pastel couches, white marble tables, gold-framed paintings and cherry blossom bouquets. Dressed in a lavender gown with pearl buttons and heels, she said the space was the perfect place to gather her team for curating, brainstorming and maybe even a launch party.
Perhaps for an exclusive Meta product launch, Shah suggested, explaining how the metaverse and the real world will interact to market and sell. “This is the endless possibility of my imagination,” Aina replied when asked what Meta means to her.
There are already digital storefronts on crypto currency and gaming sites, but who will open the first with Facebook’s Meta?
Perhaps Forvrmood. Pop-culture crazed Gucci, hosting its next runway show in L.A. on Tuesday, could also be a contender. Alessandro Michele could easily have designed the silver sequined suit Jon Batiste donned for his cameo on the Meta stage to promote the world’s entertainment value, and when he appeared at an after party open to anyone. (Zuckerberg went out of his way to say the vision for his virtual reality world is egalitarian, but what about those algorithms…?)
Tech-savvy Balenciaga has already showed a runway collection inside a video game, so it would be a natural Meta brand. Or Dolce & Gabbana could take the leap. Because despite practically being canceled by the digital world on at least two occasions, the brand dazzled it earlier this month when it sold an NFT couture collection titled “Collezione Genesi” on digital luxury marketplace UNXD for a record $15 million.
Maybe the designers could host Alta Meta in lieu of Alta Moda? Watch the meta fashion space.