The pandemic has been changing the way we live, the way we shop, the way we consume. We now live in a world where the online world has become as important as the offline world. The Fashion industry has been leading this virtual trend as this other dimension offers a lot of opportunities. Through virtual gaming, Fashion is able to find a new source of revenue and advertising. With AR and VR, the apparel sector discovers how to market its products in an appealing, fun and engaging way. As our lives are becoming more and more social media oriented, Virtual Fashion could appear as a new profitable and sustainable category.
The gaming world, a great opportunity for Virtual Fashion
With the lockdown, more and more people have been joining the gaming world which now reaches 2.7 billion people globally (statistica 2020). The Fashion industry understood that there is a huge opportunity to target players who want to express themselves in the virtual world and a lot of money to make.
The DLC, the fashion virtual accessories, a source of revenue
Digital assets or download contents are usually items which enables you to enhance your game experience and can include some pure aesthetic contents like character outfits, weapon skins, cosmetics extra to new features and extra characters. Game Marketplace Wax estimates that the in-game digital assets could be worth 50 billion dollars. Hence it is not surprising that many fashion brands have collaborated in the creation of virtual clothes for famous games: Nicolas Ghesquière (Louis Vuitton) designed custom skins for Leagues of Legend Heroes, Tissot made virtual watches for NBA2K20series and sold 113,309 of them in a few months, Moschino and Gucci created outfits for the SIMS virtual world, just to name a few.
Virtual Fashion within gaming as a form of advertising
Among the most fashionable games of 2020, Animal Crossing New Horizons from Nintendo is undoubtedly the winner of virtual fashion, where fashion designers can present their new collections in the form of downloadable clothes. As physical fashion shows were not possible this year, Marc Jacobs offered for free outfits of his Spring Summer 2020 collection and Pre Fall 2020/21 collections to the 11 millions players of Animal Crossing. Many other collaborations followed like Valentino, Maison Margiela, Net-à-Porter with Isabelle Marrant. Furthermore with Animal Crossing, virtual avatars can be shared on social media . Three instagram accounts @NookStreetMarket, @CrossingTheRunway and @AnimalCrossingFashionArchiv, have made those outfits popular, sharing the looks with thousands of followers which gives extra visibility to those creations.
RVR concept first fashion virtual game, a new way to engage and trigger the purchase
While gaming, people are fully engaged and having fun. It’s a fantastic way to interact with customers. Based on this principle, Drest created the world’s first interactive luxury fashion styling game, based on RVR:“Reals items, made Virtual, then shoppable in Reality”. Users play at being a fashion stylist by browsing into a virtual closet that reflects the latest fashion trends, full of luxury clothes, accessories and make-up . More than 200 luxury brands from Gucci, Fendi to Breitling are available on the app. You first select a style challenge or theme (that can be sponsored by brands) then you choose an avatar and dress it based on your taste. Once you finalise your look you can submit it. Your fashion style will be evaluated and rewarded by both an algorithm (a tech-based measure to ensure the criterias are being met) and DREST community. With rewards you are able to buy new virtual clothes for your next look. If you want to improve your looks you can also buy extra credits.
» Engaged users spend on average 33 minutes a day in app and 7 minutes per session, completing 5 sessions a day. » said Lisa Bridgett, COO, DREST who spoke at Technology in Luxury 2021 from Luxury Briefing.
All the clothes or make-up available on the app can be purchased on Farfetch, hence it’s a great way for customers to discover and buy fashion brands and an opportunity for brands to advertise their products.
Fashion and Virtual Reality, a great way to market your products
Virtual fashion shows are replacing fashion shows and showrooms
Since the pandemic, most of the physical fashion shows and showrooms have been cancelled. Those events are crucial for the wholesale business and some new ways to present collections to fashion buyers have been put in place. Balenciaga’s Afterworld show was in the form of a bespoke video game experience where buyers could select an avatar and wander in a virtual showroom.
Holome (now Beem) created a technology that helps to process videos of people and show them in an AR environment that can be accessed via smartphone or AR enabled device. Thanks to HoloMe, JW Anderson could record videos of models wearing the Spring 2021 collection in London instead of a fashion catwalk. NuORDER is another technology used by brands or retailers to deliver a seamless wholesale process, where buyers can look for items in a virtual showroom, plan assortments visually and buy on the spot.
The Virtual Fashion store is the new store
With stores shutting down, retailers and brands have been looking for ways to recreate the same experience online as offline and enhance digital shopping experience. Obsess is one of the companies that have been helping brands to create an immersive e-commerce experience thanks to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality platforms without the need of any app. Among some of their best achievements are the Beverly Hills Ralph Lauren Flagship Virtual Store or the Tommy Hilfiger’s Holiday Pop Up with an imaginative snow room. Within the virtual store, you can wander around like in a real store, select a product and discover product videos, photos or details about it. Besides you can also purchase directly the products in the virtual store.
“What we’ve seen from these virtual stores have increased customer engagement, loyalty and conversion rates,” said Neha Singh interviewed by simtf.com
With all those great benefits , virtual stores and pop ups seem to have bright futures.
Virtual models as the new Influencer
With Digital fashion, a new category of Influencers have appeared: the Virtual Influencers. You may be familiar with the 5 famous avatars whose styles created strong coverage and drove conversion for some brands: Miquela 3 Million Followers worked for Calvin Klein, Shudu Gram 250 K Followers for Fenty, Imma Gram 330 K Followers for Amazon, Ruby9100m 79 K Followers for Fendi, Noonoouri 379 K Followers for Dior. With Virtual Influencers, brands can fully control what will be posted and don’t need to worry about any actions that could damage the brand ‘s image.
Snapchat, the best social media app to engage through virtuality
Snapchat is incontestably one of the leader in AR with more than 200 millions users engaging with AR daily. Christian Dior was one of the first brands to partner with the app for AR try on for the launch of its footwear B27 last fall. They created an augmented reality experience so that users could virtually try on six different pairs of the new sneakers. A whole advertising campaign was created around with the experience promoted via the Snapchat Lenses Carousel and the Snap Ads to AR Lens format with videos representing models playing with the lens. The campaign was a real success generating more than 2.3 million organic views and 6.2 x ROA ( return on ads spend). Snapchat now brings the experience further, as virtual stores are as well available on the app as done for American Eagle’s holiday collection with its Disney Collab. While browsing on American Eagle Snapchat page you could enter in a virtual replica store with the full collection appearing in 3D and buy it on the spot.
Virtual Fashion as a new fashion business category
In a world where social media are booming and where people keep on posting all the time their new outfits. Digital outfits could be an option to satisfy all the digital savvy fashion addicts in a sustainable way. After eco-friendly clothes, Virtual Fashion could be a new product category for all the garment brands.
Virtual, the new sustainable and affordable option
Some early trending garment brands have been releasing virtual clothes that can be purchased to be used in the virtual world. You always dreamed to buy some Gucci sneakers at 550 US Dollars? Virtual Gucci shoes could be the next option as Gucci has been releasing some digital only pairs for only $17.99. Those virtual sneakers are available via the Gucci app or Wanna AR app. Once downloaded they can be worn in AR or used in partnered apps like Roblox and VRchat. In the same way, in 2018 Retailer Carling was one of the first brands to launch a fully virtual capsule collection “Neo-Ex”. Users could purchase virtual clothes on the website, upload their picture and the Carlings’ team would fit the piece to the image so that it appears real. For those pieces, prices varied between 11 to 33 dollars.
NFTs, the next source of profit for Fashion?
NFTs, non-fungible tokens, have been a hot topic in the fashion world recently. NFTs are unique digital certificate (blockchain) tied to a unique digital asset. It gives your virtual garment a proof of authenticity, price and proprietorship. In 2019, The Fabricant, a Dutch digital fashion house, was one of the first companies to sell an NFT iridescence dress for $10,000. Two months ago, the studio RTFKT and digital artist Fewocious sold a collection of virtual sneakers from 3 to 10000 US dollars. According to their instagram, in just 7 minutes, they generated $3.1 million. NFTs seem to be a very profitable way to sell this new virtual fashion category to all the social media or gamer aficionados. Vogue Business has confirmed with a few sources that some luxury companies are working on launching NFTs soon, showing us that Virtual Fashion is only at the beginning.
Virtual Fashion is no a longer trend and is here to expand. It has helped the garment industry to promote, sell their products in a fun and engaging way and is as well a profitable business through gaming DLC, affordable digital clothes or NFTs leading us to think that after the sustainable category the new product category on all the brands ecommerce website could be the Digital clothing one.
To discover more on the subject
Read my other article about the Fashion and the second hand market.