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Turns Out, Web3 Fashion Needs a Metaverse Supermodel

The future of New York Fashion Week might have a lot more to do with the metaverse.

That’s according to Web3 designer, artificial intelligence (AI) enthusiast, Cornell University senior and, in her spare time, runway model Lior Cole, who told attendees at Afterpay’s Future of Fashion panel at Spring Studios earlier this month about her latest ChatGPT creation, Arii.

The digital model, who gets her name from Zeta Aquarii, the central star of the “water jar” asterism of the constellation of Aquariusm, declared herself “the future face of the Web3 fashion generation.”

“As a digital supermodel signed by IMG Models who has just arrived to Earth during NYFW, Arii is just beginning to explore the world of fashion on Earth, attending afterparties, shows, and other events throughout fashion month while leaving a glowing trail of her presence on social media,” Cole told Sourcing Journal. “Arii will release her full identity on social platforms after Fashion Month, once she feels accustomed to life on Earth and ready to take the world by storm and embark on her career as a digital supermodel.”

All that’s available for NFT purchase while Arii spends February finding her Earth legs “attending afterparties, shows, and other events,” is her unique fingerprint [$1.88] with which she signed her official modeling contract with IMG, the same agency that employs Cole. Arii’s home address on the contract is listed as The Multiverse.

Arii the Supermodel’s contract with the modeling agency IMG. Instagram

Cole created Arii in time for Fashion Week to show that new innovation isn’t about “AI replacing creative people in the fashion industry, it’s more about AI complementing talent or creativity or spirituality, or whatever it is that human being already identifies.”

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The Ivy League student reiterated her belief that AI will aid human workers, not render them obsolete.

“I created her basically to exemplify that AI is not going to take your job,” Cole said. “There are certain capabilities and things she can do that I can’t. With a digital NFT she can wear a flame in the metaverse, which a lot of people do, and I can’t do that. We have to focus on how technology can push creative boundaries rather than replace what humans are great at. We need to know the difference of what AI is best at and what humans are best at and I think we’ll find a synergy there.”

The 23-year-old set to graduate from Cornell this spring with a degree in computing and information science got her start in modeling after fashion designer Batsheva Hay discovered her by chance at Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. Cole said her purpose behind designing Arii was to “democratize access to Web3 for the fashion industry.”

“My goal is to position Arii as the cultural icon that represents Web3 fashion, thereby assigning a friendly face to the next wave of the internet, shattering the perception of the intimidating complexity surrounding AI, blockchain, and frontier technologies at large,” Cole told Sourcing Journal. “I recognize that the world’s creative potential is stuck behind Web3’s tall barrier to entry, and I hope to onboard the masses and shatter that barrier to expand creative horizons in fashion by leveraging technology.”

Using AI and Web3 to monetize fashion was the topic of a separate fashion week panel called “Connecting IRL Fashion to URL Assets” where Web3 industry leaders discussed how businesses can use artificial intelligence to be successful. Maxim Raykhrud: CPO of Zero10, called out AI mirrors in particular.

“It’s this amazing setup where you have this huge screen and camera pointed at you and it works like magic, but where you essentially see yourself in a mirror wearing garments, Raykhrud said during the talk. “This is also something where we obviously could enter points of sale. We could do outdoor advertising with that. We could even do like some high0concept ideas with this.”

Oliver Moineon, CEO of Exclusible, a Web3 customer management system, noted that brands that offer a consistency of experience will find the best success.

“How do you weave it into more of an experience that’s deeper and more emotional?” Moineon said. “I tell brands that you need to think of it in terms of more than like a Netflix series than creating just a one-off marketing activation.”

David Giordano, brand builder for Brand New Vision, reminds interested parties that for all the talk of NFTs, NFCs, or near-field communication, and short-wave RFID are especially important in brick-and-mortar retail situations.

“So if the chips are embedded in the garments, which also then creates that relationship between the physical garments, you scan, or tap your phone and it brings you to the digital experience,” Giordano said. “It could be the NFT giving you the OK of authenticity of the product. It could be linked directly to some type of secondary marketplace. So it’s information transparency but also the ownership of the garment. It could also be linked to some type of metaverse immersive 3D experience linked to that garment.”

And while it may be some time before consumers adapt to paying for luxury items in the metaverse, in the meantime, brands selling IRL can use digital like a weather balloon.

“Digital assets could allow you to find out what will perform best in real life before you even spend a penny on the physical production costs,” Raykhrud said. “I feel like this is a very big opportunity for, especially luxury brands where the manufacturing costs a lot of money for some items.”

Giordano predicted 2023 will go down in history as the year of AI with augmented reality a close second.

“We’re gonna walk down major streets in all the fashion cities in the world and AR is going to be right in our faces,” he said. “Stores are going to come alive, [and] mirrors will be magic.”

Moineon believes NFTs will come to define fashion retail this year.

“My prediction is that we will all have NFTs, we will all have crypto wallets. We won’t care that we have NFTs and we won’t know that we have crypto wallets, but there are just the technological layers that will power new benefits, new apps, new engagement, new whatever,” he said. “So we’re going to start seeing more and more projects around loyalty, rewards and a new type of CRM [customer relation management system].”

The experts at the Future of Fashion panel, which in addition to Cole featured Natalie McGrath, vice president of Marketing for Afterpay, Leila Mashouf, co-founder and CTO of eco fabric maker Rubi Labs, and Matt Choon, CEO and founder of Bowery Showroom, discussed the diversity benefits a more egalitarian Web3 world would provide.

“I think we’re seeing that tech is sector-agnostic,” Cole said. “Yes, you can use technology for computation of use cases but it’s important to show the younger generation that everyone has just as much of a space in it whether you are a math wiz or an art kid or a fashion designer. I think the general public is realizing that the next Steve Jobs might be developing a metaverse dress on her computer right now.”