When we last briefly touched on Meta (several articles back), we explained how they have, essentially, lost billions of dollars in net worth. This is due to Mark Zuckerberg’s relentless investment in his VR headset and the Metaverse. Regardless of its current state, Zuckerberg and his team marched forward and even decided to hold a major event in their in-house virtual space called Decentraland.
The event was a virtual fashion week that was held in the titular digital world. Many big-name companies in attendance showcased their outfits on the virtual runway – but there was one thing that was missing, and that was the audience.
Decentraland, Zuckerberg’s premiere virtual world, is a space that is, frankly, barren; it is a place where you can buy digital plots of land and then convert them into NFTs. Major companies such as Samsung, Louis Vuitton, and Nike have made their mark on the Metaverse; some went as far as to replicate their physical world in lands they have bought. The entire system and its economy run on the blockchain, and all the transactions are purely made in cryptocurrency. Both players and companies can create and sell clothes and accessories for the avatars to be used in the virtual world, which is what made fashion weeks in VR possible.
Last year, it was reported that over 7,000 of these digital outfits were sold, with an average of US$10 per sale. Despite this, sales have dropped about 50% compared to last year. Organisers blame the fact that the digital space is still new to the layperson and has yet to be adopted by the masses. This explanation was also given when they had to account for why there were only a handful of people in attendance as part of the audience. Due to the difficulties experienced at the event, many called into question the value of these digital outfits and if digital fashion is really necessary to begin with.
Many complained that the stiff movements of models, lacklustre points of interest in Decentraland, and difficulties in navigating the virtual space were the glaring issues that persisted throughout the fashion week; some pointed out that if those issues were resolved, the event might have garnered a larger audience, but the chances of that have dwindled.
Recently, in a somewhat shocking turn of events, Zuckerberg’s Meta shifted its attention away from the Metaverse and decided to focus more on artificial intelligence. Even though some brands and creators are sticking to the platform, they can’t help but feel the effects of Zuckerberg’s departure as he pivots towards a different pet project. Some would say this sharp change in direction was not done willingly, as Zuckerberg had to bow to peer pressure and start appeasing investors in Silicon Valley more to keep his company afloat.
Regardless of this sticky situation, designers are still pushing forward with creating outfits in the digital space in hopes that they can make their creations more widespread and affordable to everyone interested in them. However, this notion is pretty far-fetched, as people have yet to adopt the system, let alone spend more for digital outfits. Only time will tell if digital apparel will flop or reach sky-high appeal.