One of the biggest challenges for the booming digital fashion sector – roughly defined as designers and programmers working to dress the virtual avatars that will come to populate those yet to be formed metaverse– has balanced the priorities of fashion veterans and Web3 pioneers.
Some of the most popular Metaverse platforms, such as decentralized and The sandboxhave in Web3 circles due to the fact that they are on a “permissionless” Structure: Digital assets – such as a virtual dress – can flow in and out freely.
However, the same platforms also tend to be built in extremely simple 3D styles.
The Sandbox, for example, uses a signature “voxelated” aesthetic (think pixelated but with cubes). Some industry experts argue that such blocky, cartoonish ecosystems are unfit to serve as proving grounds for the future of digital fashion.
“The reality is that many brands don’t really see The Sandbox – or an environment with voxels – as conducive to fashion,” said Richard Hobbs, CEO of digital fashion platform BNV decrypt in the video interview.
Hobbs believes that BNV — which not only creates digital fashion pieces, but also serves as a link between traditional fashion brands and design tools for the Metaverse — may have solved this dilemma. Within the next month, the company plans to launch a beta version of its proprietary Metaverse platform, BNV World, specifically tailored to showcase complex and intricate digital fashion pieces for Metaverse citizens.
BNV World is built with Unreal engine, the lifelike graphics software tool from Fortnite developer Epic Games. Hobbs believes the flexibility Unreal offers will be key to sparking the excitement of fashion leaders hesitant about the design constraints of the current metaverses.
“Those experiences, those metaverses that are built or dreamed about with Unreal, are the ones that I think you’re going to resonate with fashion brands the most,” Hobbs said. “You can use the power of Unreal to show material physics in a whole different way. [Before]there was no movement in the materials, they were literally manipulated onto the avatar and that was it.”
BNV World will allow visitors to showcase fashion pieces from countless designers in ultra-realistic 3D and will provide a platform-exclusive marketplace for BNV products. There will also be virtual spaces and stages designed for events and the launch of digital fashion collections. Certain areas of the platform will be token-gated, offering NFT holders “varying levels of accessibility and portability.”
Hobbs is confident that creating a virtual space designed primarily to serve the visual needs of digital fashion will allow creators “to be much more creative and experimental with how fashion can look and be interpreted in the metaverse.”
Luxury fashion brands have started experimenting with presences in the Metaverse, although the fruits of those efforts aren’t really showing yet.
In February Gucci bought an unknown amount of virtual land in The Sandbox, on which themed spaces are built and digital fashion items are sold. The French ultra-luxury fashion house Balmain is currently developing a Metaverse ecosystem designed to entice its exclusive clientele with tiered, immersive experiences. Balmain has not yet announced which Metaverse platform it intends to build on.