This month, with enthusiasm for the idea of the metaverse in a deep slump, The Interline set out to decode where and why the idea of real-time, immersive fashion events faltered. In the process, we found a conflicted clash of inclusivity and high barriers to entry, low audience numbers and continued brand investment, and artistic ambition and crude creative toolsets.
You’ll have seen the pretty catastrophic raw figures from Metaverse Fashion Week 2023, but what does this all mean for the ongoing evolution of metaverse technologies and brand participation? Is the idea of a fashion and beauty presence in the metaverse “dead”, locked in a short-term winter, or are we simply seeing hype give way to practical reality?
To uncover answers to those questions – and more – we enlisted four unique points of view and set four very different industry observers loose in and around MVFW2023. They were Ben Hanson, The Interline’s Editor-in-Chief; Jessica Quillin, a former art critic turned content strategist; Sasha Wallinger, a former chief marketing officer turned web3 and metaverse strategist; and Bryce Quillin, a retail economist and business strategist.
(Our News & Features Editor, Emma Feldner-Busztin, also went on her own deep-dive into the moving goalposts for metaverse fashion last month, in a piece that’s well worth reading as a primer to this multi-pronged investigation.)
Each of our observers has their own opinions, but together they arrived at a common conclusion. While brand investment in immersive experiences continues to be strong – despite the high bar needed to secure innovation funding in the current climate – the primary platforms that have promoted themselves as being the frontends for “the metaverse” are actively holding back the potential of a new avenue of creativity, storytelling, and engagement.
To deliver against the promise of real-time fashion shows and experiences (whether they end up carrying the metaverse label or not), our panel agreed that improving execution, safeguarding inclusivity, and shifting towards mainstream rendering engines and cross-media partnerships will be essential if the downward trend in user engagement is going to be reversed.
Read on for an overview of each writer’s perspective.
MVFW 2023: Managing The Fallout
Kicking off the MVFW series, The Interline’s Ben Hanson analyses the shortfalls, blemishes, and flaws of MVFW – and asks where, if anywhere, the opportunities for the future lie. The “fallout” of the title refers to the potentially contagious plague of bleak attendance figures, confusing user experience, a negative association with cryptocurrency, and the possibility of those spreading to the broader digital product creation ecosystem.
The Aesthetics Of The Metaverse And Digital Fashion
In the second in our investigations series, Jessica Quillin finds MVFW to be like all metaverse activations of the past several years: a big brand experiment and an experience deeply anchored to a waning hype cycle. But what might a successful real-time fashion show actually look and feel like? And how might brands take a more strategic, user-needs-focused approach to storytelling that could distinguish them if the industry does find its footing on a new frontier?
Why Do Brands Care About Metaverse Fashion Weeks?
In the third part in our metaversion fashion investigative series, Sasha Wallinger notes that in spite of dismal performance metrics, software inaccessibility, and poor user experience – optimism and desire to engage audiences has kept brands returning to events and incentivised them to join new, similar initiatives in fashion and beauty. Cutting through all the complexity, the key driver for those brands remains the opportunity to allow buyers to experience collections, products, and designs in an immersive, creative, and inspiring way that offers the chance to try something new.
The Hype, Reality, And Success Of MVFW 2023
In the final instalment, Bryce Quillin shares how lower engagement numbers should not be viewed as an indication of the deterioration of the idea of metaverse fashion as a whole, but rather pushback against a flawed prototype of a greater fashion experiment. One which did not have any negative impact on any brands, despite the sloppy performances. Now that the MVFW hype has quieted down, he argues, the hard work of matching immersive ideas to the right audiences begins.
For more on the vision for metaverse fashion, and how it clashes with current reality, explore our archives, or download our free-to-read Digital Product Creation report, which captures the idea of real-time fashion as one slice of fashion’s much broader digital transformation journey.