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High-end fashion houses such as Gucci and Balenciaga are launching new digital apparel lines for metaverse gaming avatars. Leah Ashe provided the image.

‘Other avatars are so envious’: Gamers are purchasing virtual couture to increase their online clout.

The metaverse is becoming popular.

Gucci, Balenciaga, and Fendi are among the luxury labels releasing digital apparel lines for gaming avatars to wear while ruling the realm of virtual reality.

When it comes to purchasing high-end couture for their cyber characters, the metaverse’s estimated 179.6 million gamers — a real-time, 3D cosmos where online users may live vicariously via their personalised avatars — spare no money to ensure that their internet symbols look the part.

“My two favourite things are shopping and gaming,” VR fashion influencer Leah Ashe, 28, told The Washington Post. “Having the ability to purchase high-end accoutrements for my avatar, who is an extension of myself, helps me feel more connected in the metaverse.”

She bought her character, NotLeah, four Gucci purses, a pink Rolls-Royce, and a slew of vast pink houses on the famous online gaming platform Roblox.

“Whenever NotLeah gets the newest, sexiest [accessory], all the other avatars are so envious,” Ashe, a San Francisco resident with over 4.8 million followers to her Roblox lifestyle YouTube channel, said. “However, I enjoy spoiling her with nicer things. I grew up in poverty, so it feels like I’m living the life I used to fantasise about.”

‘A representation of who we are.’

Robux is the in-game money of Roblox, and it may be purchased with cash, a debit card, or any kind of electronic payment. Each Robux is worth about 100 times the value of a US dollar; hence, a player would spend $100 in cash in return for a $10,000 Robux.

Ashe just paid almost $2,000 in Robux (about $25) on a limited-edition pink sequin Gucci GG Marmont bag for NotLeah to carry. She then spent $2,100 actual money on the identical real-life purse.

In May, Gucci launched a virtual collection on Roblox. The limited-edition products sold swiftly, and rumours of virtual bags selling for more than the actual thing on the resale market began to emerge, including a Queen Bee Dionysus bag that went for 350,000 Robux, or more than $4,000, last summer.

So far, gamer Lana Zylstra claims she “spent a total of 10,000 Robux on only the Gucci accessories” for her avatar Lanaraee, which includes a black spiked basketball-shaped handbag, a flowery Dionysus shoulder bag, and a flacon of Gucci Bloom perfume.

Zylstra, a professional ballerina from Corona, California, told The Post that she’s also gotten Lanaraee some digital duds from the virtual collections of Forever 21 and Ralph Lauren.

“It’s crucial for me to acquire these products because avatars are a representation of who we are or how we want to be regarded in the metaverse,” Zylstra, who declined to reveal her age, explained. “It may sound strange, but fashion is as important in online gaming as it is in real life.”

The future is digital

Luxury businesses have taken note and are attempting to engage with a younger audience that is increasingly spending time online. And that figure is only expected to rise: According to a December 2021 Statista poll, more than 74% of American people are establishing, or are thinking about building, lives in the virtual world.

“The virtual world is establishing its own economy,” said Gucci CMO Robert Triefus in an interview with Fast Company. “Virtual objects have value due of their scarcity, as well as the fact that they can be traded and shared.”

Unlike the exclusive boutiques of Madison Avenue, high-end virtual fashion seeks to be more inclusive – at least in principle.

“The digital fashion world is a welcoming environment for designers and [gamers],” Daria Shapovalova, co-founder of metaverse fashion marketplace DressX, told The Washington Post. “The clothing is available in all sizes, the goods look fantastic on everyone [in the metaverse], and the designer brands are more accessible and inexpensive for everyone.”

Gaming enthusiasts may purchase virtual clothing from lesser-known labels to renowned couturiers such as Fendi and Balenciaga with the $9.99 DressX membership programme.

Patrons may then purchase stuff for their in-game avatars — or for themselves to wear digitally on social media and Zoom conversations — ranging in price from $5 to a lot more. A full head-to-toe replica of the bedazzled, custom-made Peter Dundas masterpiece worn by singer Mary J. Blige at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, for example, costs $8,400.

“Digital fashion allows individuals to discover stylish brands up and personal,” Shapovalova said, explaining that DressX customers may use its technology to try on any piece of clothing for free before opting to buy it for their digital wardrobe.

“At this moment in the evolution of digital fashion, most designers are establishing virtual reality clothing lines as a marketing tool, rather than the main income source, to attract this new wave of metaverse consumers.”

Worlds of a fashion clash

Even yet, the distinction between genuine and phoney continues to blur.

Haute Living magazine published a cover fashion photo last month with blockchain investor Megan Kaspar, who was “digitally clothed” in Fendi by DressX. (Readers might then purchase the genuine thing.)

The first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week will take place next month. From March 24 to 27, it will be hosted by the 3D virtual world platform Decentraland and will include a cyber catwalk fashioned after real-world fashion weeks celebrated in New York, Paris, London, and Milan.

According to Michael Gord, creator of the Metaverse Group, which owns the virtual area where MVFW will be hosted, the event would include “a digital district that will appear like Fifth Avenue Avenue in New York, Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, or Bond Street in London.” (While the concerts would be free for spectators, he stated that more elite events will need the purchase of an NFT ticket.)

“With digital fashion collections, avatars of genuine models, influencers, and celebrities will walk the runway,” Gord told The Washington Post.

“As the rest of the world begins to use the metaverse, individuals want to be able to establish an online presence that correctly represents their personalities and distinctive styles, and they’re doing so through digital fashion.”

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