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Vans Joins the Digital Fashion Movement With Roblox Partnership

Vans became the latest fashion brand to roll into the metaverse Wednesday.

A week after Ralph Lauren set up shop on the freemium social app Zepeto, Roblox—a popular virtual platform with tens of millions of daily active users—launched “Vans World.” Inspired by owned retail shop environments and worldwide skate destinations, the “persistent 3D space” will serve as a place “where fans can practice their ollies and kickflips with friends, and try on and acquire exclusive Vans gear,” it said.

Vans World offers four different sneaker silhouettes for fans to virtually customize, purchase and wear, as well as a full skate shop where they can build a unique board. Users can also collect and wear free brand apparel and accessories. Vans created the experience—including the featured shoes—in partnership with Roblox community developers The Gang Stockholm.

“Individual expression is deeply embedded in skate culture, and Vans has been supporting and enabling this exact type of creativity for more than 50 years,” Nick Street, vice president of global integrated marketing at Vans, said in a statement. “With the Vans World experience on Roblox, we are empowering creative expression in the digital world, bridging the gap between virtual and real-world fashion and sports in an accessible, inclusive way.

Though Roblox Corp. was founded in 2004 and its first game launched in 2006, it only truly exploded in popularity in recent years­. This surging growth enabled the company to finally go public in March with a $41 billion valuation. Last month, it reported that daily active users averaged 43.2 million in the second quarter, a 29 percent increase compared to the prior year.

Roblox launched Gucci Garden as a two-week experience in May
Roblox launched Gucci Garden as a two-week experience in May. Roblox

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Vans is not the first fashion company to partner with Roblox. After introducing some rare items on the platform last year, Gucci partnered with the platform to launch Gucci Garden in May. The virtual exhibition allowed users to explore themed rooms inspired by creative director Alessandro Michele’s vision and inspirations. As they traveled through, visitors’ avatars absorbed different elements of the exhibition such that they would walk out with a “one-of-a-kind” creation.

The Gucci Garden also hosted a store where users could purchase exclusive, limited-edition avatar items. Among these was a Queen Bee Dionysus bag that, initially bought for around $5, it later resold for $4,115—well above the $3,400 the physical version fetched in real life.

Gucci is not the only high-end label exploring the metaverse. Last week, Ralph Lauren launched its own virtual-reality environment on Zepeto, where CGI avatars can now traverse the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship, traipse through Central Park or grab a drink at a Ralph’s Coffee truck.

Users can purchase 50 items making up 12 full Polo Ralph Lauren looks. Items are priced according to the app’s Zem currency, where $1 will get you 14 Zems. Pieces set users back between 8 Zems and 40 Zems, or 57 cents to $2.86.

Burberry created a shark NFT for Mythical Games' Blankos Block Party, as well as in-game NFT accessories, including a jetpack, armbands and pool shoes
Burberry created a shark NFT for Mythical Games’ Blankos Block Party, as well as in-game NFT accessories, including a jetpack, armbands and pool shoes. Burberry

Also last month, Burberry launched a non-fungible token (NFT) collection with Mythical Games’ flagship title, Blankos Block Party. Touted as “a partnership of firsts paving the way for the future of digital ownership in gaming,” the team-up included a limited-edition shark NFT, as well as in-game NFT accessories, including a jetpack, armbands and pool shoes. The digital collection came months after China’s Xinjiang-related boycotts brought a premature end to a partnership between Burberry and the highest-grossing mobile game of all time, Tencent’s Honor of Kings.

“Gaming is a unique space for us to test and learn and trial digital innovations that embody our values and celebrate creativity amongst our communities,” Rod Manley, Burberry’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Partnering with Mythical Games feels like a natural next step, going beyond our in-house games by bringing the Burberry universe into an established environment.”