People are paying real cash for virtual clothes and fashion houses are noticing

  • By Elizabeth Howcroft / Reuters, LONDON

People care about the avatars they choose to wear. Hiroto Kai spent all night designing Japanese-inspired clothing after Decentraland announced in June that avatars could make and sell their own clothing.

He said that he sold kimonos for US$140 each and made US$15,000 to US$20,000 in three weeks.

Virtual possessions are a real selling point, even though it may seem strange to spend real money on clothing that doesn’t actually exist. “metaverse” — online environments where people can congregate, walk around, meet friends and play games.

Digital artist and Japan enthusiast Kai’s real name is Noah. He is a 23-year old living in New Hampshire, the US.

After making three times as much as he would have in a year at his music shop job, he decided to quit and become a full-time designer.

“It just took off,”Kai said. “It was a new way to express yourself and it’s walking art, that’s what’s so cool about it… When you have a piece of clothing, you can go to a party in it, you can dance in it, you can show off and it’s a status symbol.”

In Decentraland, clothing for avatars — known as “wearables” — can be bought and sold on the blockchain in the form of a crypto asset called a non-fungible token (NFT).

Kai’s kimonos include exquisite crushed blue velvet pieces with golden dragon trim.

NFTs were a hit with crypto enthusiasts and speculators earlier this year. They represent ownership of online-only items like digital art and trading cards, and land in online worlds.

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The niche crypto assets are also capturing the attention of some of the world’s biggest fashion companies, keen to associate themselves with a new generation of gamers — although most of their forays so far are for marketing.

Louis Vuitton created a metaverse game in which players can collect NFTs. Burberry has also created NFT accessories branded by Blankos Block Party. This game is owned by Mythical Games Inc. Gucci sells non-NFT clothing for avatars in Roblox.

“Your avatar represents you,” said Imani McEwan, a Miami-based fashionNFT and model enthusiast. “Basically what you’re wearing is what makes you who you are.”

McEwan stated that he has spent US$15,000-US$16,000 on 70 NFT items since January using the profits from cryptocurrency investments. McEwan’s first purchase was a sweater with a bitcoin theme. He also recently purchased a black beret that his friend had made.

It is difficult for us to estimate the size of the NFT wearables industry. According to NonFungible.com (a Web site that tracks the NFT market), the wearables sales volume in Decentraland was US$750,000 in its first half of the year. This is an increase of US$267,000 from the same period last years.

Some believe that virtual shops and wearables could be the future for retail.

“Instead of scrolling through a feed and shopping online, you can have a more immersive brand experience by exploring a virtual space — whether you are shopping for your online avatar or buying physical products that can be shipped to your door,”Julia Schwartz, director at Republic Realm, an investment vehicle for virtual real estate worth US$10 millions that has built a shopping center in Decentraland, said.

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For NFT enthusiasts, online fashionThis does not replace physical purchase.

Paula Sello and Alissa Uulbekova were cofounders. fashionAuroboros, a start-up, says it could be an eco-friendly alternative to fast food. fashion.

Customers can send Auroboros an image of themselves and have clothing digitally added for £60 to £1,000 (US$83.19 to US$1,386.50).

Sello stated that virtual garments could reduce the waste of consumers purchasing clothes to wear on social networks. He cited a 2018 Barclaycard survey that found that 9 percent British shoppers have purchased clothes for social media photos and then returned them.

“We need to have the shift now in fashion. The industry simply cannot continue,” Sello said.

RTFKT is a virtual sneaker company that sells limited-edition NFTs of sneakers that can only be purchased. “worn”You can use Snapchat filters to create virtual worlds.

“It really took off when COVID started and loads of people went more online,”Steven Vasilev, RTFKT chief executive and cofounder, said.

He said that the company has sold US$7 million and limited edition sneakers were sold in auctions for US$10,000-US$60,000.

Although the majority of customers are in 20-30s, some customers are as young or even younger than that.

RTFKT’s NFTs can also be used as a token to receive a free physical version of the shoe, but one in 20 customers do not redeem that token.

“I didn’t do the redemption stuff because I couldn’t be bothered,”Jim McNelis (a Dallas-based NFT buyer) founded NFT company, nft42. “I try to avoid the physical stuff as much as possible.”

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