Want to rock designer clothes, create unique fits, or own exclusive collectibles in the metaverse? Future-leaning innovators are making that possible.
Ralph Lauren and Epic Games, the creator and publisher of the globally popular online game Fortnite, partnered to debut a digital apparel and accessories collection launching in the Fortnite Item Shop and a physical apparel capsule—inspired by the digital-first collection. For the first time in Ralph Lauren’s five-decade history, the Polo Pony has been specially redesigned to commemorate the collaboration with Fortnite, a testament to the company’s investment in the metaverse.
“Ralph Lauren has always designed dreams and created new worlds, and today, our collaboration with Fortnite will deliver a groundbreaking experience to a new community of next-generation players and consumers,” said David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer at Ralph Lauren. “Our partnership represents a completely fresh take on the Ralph Lauren brand—designing for the metaverse first—that is thoroughly focused on the future. We are excited to continue to lead digital exploration, building on our decades-long track record of pioneering innovation.”
In a first for Ralph Lauren, the collection was conceived as a digital-first capsule, creatively influenced by a gaming design aesthetic. The digital outfits showcase Ralph Lauren’s signature craftsmanship, while the physical capsule collection translates the outfits into the real world. Underlining this interplay between digital and physical, the boot will come to life as a replica of the digital version shown in the “Fortnite Outfits” and will be available in the coming months.
“Authentically expressing yourself is core to the player experience inside Fortnite,” said Adam Sussman, president at Epic Games. “Ralph Lauren’s iconic ‘Polo’ design history together with the powerful versatility of Unreal Engine and the unmistakable style of Fortnite have resulted in an inspired campaign and timeless looks that Fortnite players worldwide are sure to love.”
In celebration of the Nov. 3 launch, Ralph Lauren will host a series of activations to engage the gaming community, including a Twitch livestream launch event, and will be the first luxury brand to cohost a player tournament in Fortnite. The physical apparel capsule collection will also be available exclusively online starting Nov. 2. An additional product drop will launch globally on Dec. 1 on online, select Ralph Lauren retail stores and specialty retailers.
Ralph Lauren is far from the only fashion name making moves in the metaverse, however.
Stage Inc, the creator of Stageverse, a metaverse world-building platform, has launched the world’s first AI-generated fashion design tool for avatars. Powered by Stable Diffusion AI, Stageverse’s Avatar Fashion Show enables users to create virtually countless clothing designs to be worn by their avatars inside virtual worlds and shared across social media.
“We’re incredibly excited to integrate the game-changing Stable Diffusion AI technology into our platform,” CEO Tim Ricker said. “We’re entering a new frontier of design with AI-powered text-to-image generators that, with the power of imaginative prompts, enable anyone to create an infinite number of unique fashion designs, expressing their own style in the metaverse and beyond.”
Stageverse users enter a prompt—anything from color, trend or vibe—into the Avatar Fashion Studio, and the Stable Diffusion AI text-to-image generator creates patterns inspired by said prompt. Then these patterns are applied to the avatar’s clothing, eventually sold as NFTs.
The technology company, which has previously partnered with Balmain, is cashing in on the industry’s move to the metaverse and NFT market. The Parisian luxury house teamed up with Mattel’s Barbie brand on NFTs and Adidas recently launched its first NFT collection, earning the company more than $22 million in one day. The Council of Fashion Designers of America will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a metaverse, Web3 and NFT exhibition in December.
Plus, British sportswear company Umbro has entered Web3 with “The Nations’ Collection by Umbro,” the previously Nike-owned global sports brand’s first-ever digital collectibles.
Partnering with consumer and fan technology company Equitbl, the digital collectibles will be available through Equitbl’s new Web3 marketplace, “Dnizn.” Developed with user experience at the forefront, users can purchase digital collectibles with a debit or credit card and store their assets. A secondary marketplace will launch in early 2023, where consumers can sell or exchange digital collectibles and complete their collections.
“We are excited to partner with Dnizn to launch the first-ever Umbro digital collectible and officially mark our entry into the exciting world of Web3,” said Anthony Little, managing director of Umbro. “This collection represents our desire to delight and reward everyone with an experience that lives—and evolves—in the world of Web3.”
It’s clear that the future of fashion is digital, and not just brands are getting in on the emerging trend.
Parsons School of Design and Roblox Corporation announced a multi-faceted partnership that includes a course collaboration where students will create hyper-realistic and inclusive 3D digital apparel.
Faculty members at Parsons School of Design are leading the development of The New School’s next wave of fashion design with creative, education and marketing experts at Roblox. The course will be available to Parsons students for the Spring 2023 semester and equips students with the training and tools to prepare for the changing mediums and self-expression of the future.
“Partnering with Roblox offers Parsons students working in creative technologies an exciting opportunity to engage the complex intersection of visual culture and social structure, and to play with how we make meaning when we dress ourselves—in digital and physical worlds,” said Shana Agid, Ph.D., dean of the School of Art & Media Technology at Parsons School of Design. “We’re excited to see how students’ own diverse experiential knowledge, together with their research, critical thinking, and digital and visual design skills, shape the futures of these spaces.”
The partnership also unveiled the 2022 Metaverse Fashion Trends report.
“Gen Z consumers are spending more time in immersive social spaces like Roblox, where they have been expressing themselves through their creations and digital style preferences for over a decade,” said Christina Wootton, vice president of global partnerships at Roblox. “With their growing economic power and influence on fashion, trends from the metaverse are expected to have a profound impact on physical fashion, while trends from the physical world will also continue to move into the metaverse. The data sourced for this report further underscores why the next generation of fashion designers and brands will become deeply immersed in digital fashion—designing digital collections and dressing avatars.”
Of surveyed respondents, nearly three in four said they will spend money on digital fashion, with over one in four spending $20 to $100 or more on a single virtual item. Nearly half of Gen Z consumers look for digital fashion brands and designers to offer new and different clothes they can experiment with, which they wouldn’t otherwise try in real life.
“Collaborating on this research with Roblox has made it even more clear that self-expression through digital fashion is important for digital natives and Gen Z,” said Ben Barry, Ph.D., dean and associate professor of equity and inclusion at the School of Fashion. “Designers of the future will need to create in 3D and push the boundaries of creativity with metaverse-only garments, accessories, and collections that can be made available with lightning-fast speed to millions of consumers globally on platforms like Roblox. As we prepare the next generation of fashion designers for their careers, we look forward to the future where this creative profession is made accessible to all through the latest technology and creators’ innovation.”
With Gen Z spending more time socializing, creating and expressing themselves in immersive social spaces, the demand for digital fashion, its widespread impact—and, as a result, its prestige—are clearly on the rise. Half of the surveyed respondents say they change their avatar’s clothing at least once a week. For two in five respondents, digital self-expression is more important than expressing themselves in the physical world.
“The world’s next Coco Chanel is probably a 10-year-old girl who is currently designing avatar skins on Roblox,” said Cathy Hackl, co-founder of Journey.