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Skechers Scoops Up Metaverse Real Estate

Skechers, Pantone and Highsnobiety are joining the crowded field of fashion names dipping their toes into the metaverse.

Like Nike, Walmart and Ralph Lauren before it, Skechers filed a series of trademark applications in January that would cover its name and logos in relation to virtual goods. Late last month, it submitted another batch of trademark applications, these for new terms like “Skecherverse,” “Skechersverse” and “Skechersland.” Though the terms seemingly referred to a Skechers-themed virtual world or environment, each trademark only covers footwear and apparel.

On Thursday, the company formally announced its first real business endeavor in the metaverse, an “experiential store” in Decentraland’s “fashion district.” According to Tokens.com, the Web3 investment company whose subsidiary Metaverse Group owns the “land,” Skechers leased “the equivalent of a 5,000-square-foot space.”

“Our Decentraland agreement is an investment in our future,” Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers, said in a statement. “We look forward to embarking on this virtual era, and exploring creative ways for our brand to engage with new customers and audiences as we launch the new Skechers experience.”

Decentraland is one of a small number of virtual worlds currently at the center of the metaverse conversation. Though its user base pales in comparison to a platform like Roblox, its blockchain-based functionality enables designers to tie NFTs to digital goods that can be worn within Decentraland—something brands like Under Armour and RTFKT, the virtual goods studio Nike bought last year, have already begun doing.

The hype that has built around the metaverse in the past half a year has inspired some to invest significant funds into buying virtual real estate within digital worlds. In November, Metaverse Group bought a massive parcel of land in Decentraland’s Fashion Street district for 618,000 MANA, an Ethereum-based token used as currency within Decentraland. At the time, the investment group said Decentraland had declared its purchase—roughly $2.4 million at the then-exchange rate—the “largest metaverse land acquisition to date.” At today’s exchange rate, the purchase equates to around $1.5 million.

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Since November, Metaverse Group has continued to buy land nearby. In mid-February, it said it owned the equivalent of approximately 450,000 square feet in Decentraland’s fashion district. Late last month, it announced it would lease some of that land back to Decentraland to host a “Metaverse Fashion Week.” Scheduled for March 24-27, the event will see traditional brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Dundas and Etro, as well as virtual-only names like The Fabricant, host “runway shows” within Decentraland.

Andrew Kiguel, Tokens.com CEO and Metaverse Group executive chairman, described the Skechers lease as “a pivotal evolution in our metaverse strategy.” Though it has invested millions of dollars in virtual land, Metaverse Group only signed its first-ever metaverse tenants earlier this month.

“This partnership establishes our subsidiary, Metaverse Group, as one of the first virtual landlords to successfully lease out its Metaverse real estate,” Kiguel said in a statement. “We not only own valuable virtual real estate but also generate recurring revenue, similar to landlords in the physical world and online advertising platforms such as large search engines and social media networks.”

Pantone and Highsnobiety tackle NFTs

Months after naming Very Peri its Color of the Year for 2022, Pantone is collaborating with the artist Polygon1993 to release a series of nine NFTs in the color’s honor.

After dropping the first five worldwide Wednesday and Thursday, Pantone will make the final four tokens available exclusively at the “Pantone Very Peri” room inside the Tezos experience at SXSW 2022.

Pantone initially made five NFTs available worldwide
Pantone initially made five Very Peri-inspired NFTs available worldwide. Pantone

“As we further explore and create products and services for our community that complement the digital and physical landscape, we are excited to continue our partnership with Polygon1993 and Tezos to explore new avenues for creativity like NFTs and how color can influence this creation,” Elley Cheng, vice president and general manager of Pantone, said in a statement.

Highsnobiety unveiled its own NFT ambitions last week as well. Seven months after dropping its first full apparel collection, the streetwear media brand announced the creation of the Highsnobiety NFT Studio.

Launched in February, the studio will develop and execute brand-led NFT and Web3 projects, consult with luxury and lifestyle brands on “how to strategically execute within the NFT space,” and advise and connect Web3 “entities” with luxury and lifestyle brands. Highsnobiety described the studio as “an organic next step” as it continues to look to the future of luxury and retail—particularly given the similarities between NFT releases and the “drop retail model” popular within streetwear.

“What makes products and collaborations great today, are the stories that they tell, the way they make us feel and the value that they carry,” Highsnobiety editor-in-chief Thom Bettridge said in a statement. “We are entering a next phase of evolution, where these same attributes can be carried by purely digital products, spaces and communities. We could not feel more at home in the metaverse.”

The studio will not be Highsnobiety’s first venture into the NFT space. In June last year, it released a series of NFTs with RTFKT. In January, it teamed up with the footwear brand Moon Boot and digital artist Geoffrey Lillemon on a limited run or tokens. The company plans to debut its initial Highsnobiety NFT Studio projects in “early 2022.”