Gaubert also warns brands not to rush to participate in metaverse experiences. “The fact that Hugo Boss, Balenciaga and Burberry are jumping on board is fantastic for raising awareness, but there is still a bit of a gap around education and adoption.”
Even the event’s tech partners warn brands not to just “close your eyes and jump in”, as Threedium’s CEO Mike Charalambous puts it. “Brands need a long-term strategy, even if they are doing this with a short-term goal. Typically for brands that have zero metaverse experiences or metaverse DNA, we suggest they start small and do a couple wearables in Decentraland to see the process and how they look, because it’s not exactly a super hyper-photorealistic design. We don’t want them to create anything that could deteriorate the brand equity, and there’s lots of sensitive stuff to worry about.”
There’s also a concern that smaller brands, with smaller budgets than the big houses, might not have the resources or incentives to participate. “I am always supportive of innovation and believe strongly in the promise of digital experiences to be democratic, however I will be watching to see how democratic it is,” says Liam Osbourne, global client partner of Flux, the fashion division at digital production company Media Monks. For example he says, “Does it spotlight and highlight emerging talent or is it only dominated by the big players? Who and how are the models selected? If it is merely replicating what we have going on in the real world, for me, it’s of less interest.”
Digital front rows and gated after-parties, he adds, could be replicating barriers to entry that mimic the physical world. “What are the rules for access that are not the traditional levers of wealth or proximity to power would be would be great to see. Everyone is just talking about the massive value of digital assets, and it’s just operating on a sphere that is hard for your average person to engage with.”
While some tech partners shared a few names of brands off the record, so far, brands are hesitant to formally announce participation. Al Dente is not aware of any client brands that have confirmed participation, says Roumegous. “However, we will be very attentive to brand initiatives during this event. It will be very interesting to see what designers and creative minds of the fashion industry will take part.”
Even though Al Dente’s clients aren’t ready to broadcast participation, Roumegous tacks on a reminder that that might change. “A lot can happen in a few weeks, so we need to stay tuned!”
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