From simple Wii’s Miis and 2D Habbo Hotel characters to AI-driven avatars in the forms of Snapchat- and Metaverse avatars.
Over the past decade, a digital transformation has transformed avatars beyond the generic. Avatars have become a digital embodiment of people’s personalities, which can reflect what they look like, or what they aspire to look like. Early adopters in the fashion industry have already recognized this potential and are taking action. For instance, Ralph Lauren and Gucci recently joined forces with Asia’s biggest metaverse Zepeto to reach a wider audience.
Digital figures are becoming more ubiquitous than ever, with its presence greatly felt in the fashion industry. The ongoing digital transformation only drives this advancement forward.
A digital transformation propelled by a global pandemic
It is no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has seriously impacted the fashion industry. Besides having a rotten reputation for overproduction and waste, they also had to deal with worldwide lockdowns and social isolation.
Throughout this period, designers and fashion brands had a chance to take a step back and re-evaluate their strategies for the future. This inspired some courageous brands to embrace the idea of creating fashion for a brand-new type of audience, the direct-to-avatar economy.
Growing demand from a new generation
Currently, with over 3 billion active gamers, gaming is the world’s biggest social platform.
Their character allows them to be how they want to be without the fear of judgment, for example:
- Individuals who identify as trans or gender non-conforming can reflect their true selves more accurately. The development and rise of digital avatar help in enabling more self-expression for people from the LGBTQ+ community.
- People with disabilities can explore unique activities through avatars and interact with others through them.
- Your avatar can help avoid harassment. For example, it has been found that some women choose male avatars in World of Warcraft to avoid misogyny.
As gamers have become more comfortable expressing themselves online, their desire to do so has grown as well. In response to this growing desire, Fortnite provided as one of the first games the ability to buy skins so players could customize their avatar. In spite of the fact that the game is free-to-play, in 2021 they generated $5.8 billion in revenue mostly from these microtransactions.
The growing popularity of clothing in games has prompted fashion brands to get involved. For example, Animal Crossing and Net-A-Porter partnered to create a fashion island where users can dress their avatars in new season designer gear.
Zepeto connects both worlds
Like Fortnite, Zepeto is a free-to-play app for iOS and Android that is like a social network and a metaverse. Over 320 million registered users already have the ability to turn selfies into 3-D animated avatars, which allows them to connect, interact, and game with other users.
They can also buy virtual items or make money by creating and selling their own. This makes them extremely relevant for brands and influencers connected to the fashion industry.
DressX & Monica Quin
DressX is the first digital fashion retailer that has announced a partnership with Zepeto. Together with Monica Louise – one of the most well-known users in the platform’s fashion world – they launched a collection of digital-only wearables through the online metaverse platform.
Monica Louise, a Canadian woman known as Monica Quin, earns her a whopping six-figure salary by designing and selling digital apparel on Zepeto. She is one of the most well-known users in the platform’s fashion world.
Zepeto’s users can buy the collection of wearables that Monica and DressX launched with Zepeto’s currency, called zems. Zems can be purchased with real money, and creators who sell products receive $106 for every sale worth 5,000 zems.
Shine with the brand-new digital Gucci collection
With over $8 billion in sales coming from under-35-year-olds, it is no wonder why Gucci is killing it with millennials. According to their estimates, millennials and Gen Z will even spend 45% of all luxury goods by 2025.
To achieve the desired results and create short-term sales and long-term loyalty, Gucci partnered with Zepeto. As part of their collaboration, users are able to buy the virtual collection of 16 fashion items including clothes, handbags, shoes, and accessories through in-app purchases.
Engage in Ralph Lauren's themed virtual world
In August 2021 Ralph Lauren announced an exclusive partnership with Zepeto. Together they feature ‘The Ralph Lauren x Zepeto collection’, where users will be able to get their hands on 12 different looks, with over 50 unique items. These items include a mix of vintage Polo, limited edition skateboard, and Ralph Lauren designs and pieces from current summer collections.
In addition to this exclusive partnership, users will also have access to a Ralph Lauren themed virtual world. This includes digital versions of three iconic brand locations such as the Madison Avenue Flagship and Ralph’s Coffee Shop where they can connect and interact with others.
Complete quests to claim Nike products for free
As part of the collaboration between Zepeto and Nike, users can complete in-game quests to claim free digital products. People can receive Nike-shirts and Nike wristbands worth 100 zems for free by completing certain quests in a virtual recreation of Hangang Park. This is a simple and effective method to let users engage with Nike in a fun and interactive way.
The future of virtual fashion
Over the last 15 years, simple 2D avatars have evolved into customizable AI avatars. Avatars have become an extension of our personalities, where users can be how they want to be without the fear of judgment.
Fashion brands are no longer being held hostage to reality. With metaverse platforms like Zepeto, they can reach millions of potential customers. This new direct-to-avatar economy has already proven its power to early adopters like Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Nike.
This digital revolution can also be beneficial for smaller creators and influencers. The next Coco Chanel might be an 18-year-old who designs and sells digital apparel.
The future of digital goods has arrived. It is up to brands to decide if they want to fight for their spot in the metaverse or not.