Brands will be measuring success more on quality of execution than on quantity of sales or attendees, says Shashi Menon, founder of NFT marketplace Unxd, which has helped usher brands including Dolce & Gabbana and Etro into metaverse projects, including this one. While appetite for digital experimentation has accelerated over the past two years, there is some concern among luxury brands that tech can have a “dehumanising” aspect, he says. “Removing some of that [physical] magic can create a fear that they are losing what makes them special in the real world, so we are showing it’s possible to retain and extend that, versus replace it.”
Menon applauds the extent to which established brands at MVFW are “willing to be playful and experiment with the medium”, which is an important point: every brand that enters the space ultimately informs the narrative that influences whether additional brands want to enter. “The more they see successful use-cases that provide a reference and take away the fear, the better it will be,” he says.
Decentraland itself will be under scrutiny, as it is expecting a host of first-time visitors and developers in hopes that many will stay long after the digital parties have emptied out. Decentraland’s primary competitor is The Sandbox, and if successful, this event could be a fashion coup.
Early adopters Gucci and Adidas, for example, have begun developing virtual real estate on The Sandbox, and are not slated to participate in MVFW. Some sources say this is in part because big brands with the budget to host their own virtual events do not want to share the limelight with others. To this end, Decentraland’s Hamilton says, high-end brands, accessible brands and digital fashion brands will be largely segregated during the four days, while avoiding overlaps in runway shows.
“We are trying to be super decentralised and fair with everybody,” Hamilton says, “[There is] a lot of friction between brands in fashion; they don’t want to be positioned next to someone else and everyone wants the most limelight they can get, so we don’t want to be in a position where they are making judgement calls. We don’t want to bill something as ‘the main event’.”
Tentpole shows still anchor the inaugural schedule. Thursday will debut with a Perry Ellis show followed by shows and parties hosted by Dolce & Gabbana and Philipp Plein, who will show digital-only designs. On Friday, Anrealage, Etro and Dundas will show, followed by an afterparty from digital fashion brand Tribute Brand and DJ Icykof. On Saturday, Cider, Fresh Couture and The Fabricant will show, followed by an afterparty hosted by Italian luxury sneaker brand Hogan and NFT marketplace Exclusible with DJ Bob Sinclar. On Sunday, digital art producers The Vogue will show a collaboration with streetwear brand Hype, followed by the Placebo digital fashion house; digital luxury brand Auroboros will close MVFW, with other events to be announced.