By Tom Ffiske
VR/AR and metaverse analysis every Wednesday and Sunday // 27 March 2022
As you read this, I am moving house in London to the Ealing area. Wish me luck! Lovely sunny day to be stuck in a van carrying more plants than I need.
Is Metaverse Fashion Week even in the metaverse?
We are now near the end of Metaverse Fashion Week, Decentraland’s most recent event. The platform roped in a slew of high-profile brands, shopping opps, and even after parties, all vying for your hard-mined cryptocoins. In summary:
- More than 70 brands readied their virtual items and loaded them onto the Ethereum blockchain like rounds from the fashion shotgun;
- Tokens.com partnered with Forever 21 to open a storefront;
- Selfridges opened the event to the public, and opened a virtual store to sell NFTs;
- Tommy Hilfiger, Roberto Cavalli, and Perry Ellis hosted their own events;
- Auroboros will close the event with Grimes, a music artist.
Decentraland has an early-mover advantage that will pay off down the line. If Metaverse Fashion Week grows each year, then Decentraland becomes the de-facto place to host what could be a globally significant event, similar to Cannes hosting the Cannes Film Festival. A great draw for a platform wanting to grow their player base or the number of users spending their MANA cryptocurrency. ‘Someone always has to be first, and by going first you don’t always get it right,’ said Max Vedel, co-founder and creative director at Swipe Back. ‘But that shouldn’t be seen as a negative. Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week is the first foray for a lot of big names into the metaverse and while they didn’t always get it right, there were some pretty amazing shows on display.’
Is it an actual metaverse event? Regular readers know that I draw the distinction between a micro-metaverse and the macro-metaverse. Decentraland is a micro-metaverse with decentralised assets at its heart, so it is a smaller variation of the concept. If Second life hosted a Metaverse Gaming Week in 2005, it would have the same level of significance. So while it is accurate, it is still not an interoperable or expansive kind of event. At least, not yet.
While a future metaverse may not use MANA or LAND, Decentraland showcases what a virtual event can look like. With the star power that it pulls this year, I am interested to see the actual footfall or sales figures from the event afterwards. If it sells well, and there is a return on investment, Metaverse Fashion Week may come again. If no, then it may be tossed away like fast fashion in a landfill.
Supported by Black Public Media
The BPMplus Initiative aims to increase the participation of Black filmmakers and artists working in XR, AI, 3D, and other forms of emerging-tech storytelling.
BPMplus programs include: Immersive Day at PitchBlack 2022, the MIT & Black Public Media Visiting Artists Program, the Nonso Christian Ugbode Fellowship, XR mixers and classes, BPMplus Fellowships, and Pop-up XR Theaters.
Tips on running an immersive festival
The following extract is from my book, The Metaverse: A Professional Guide. Here are some key insights if you wish to run your own event – I hope you enjoy!
In my view, the most important factor to any festival is the audience experience. Not the content, or the platform, or the prestige; it is the experience of first-time users who don a headset for the first time. The barriers to immersive tech are mostly linked to UX, and how easy it is for them to access what is out there. Designing immersive experiences for the audience is notoriously difficult, and it will take years of iterations and development to get it right. In 2020, the community made some immense strides. With all that said, here are my thoughts on the key learnings for future festivals:
- Pick your platform wisely. I would prioritise accessibility over graphical fidelity, which would already be compromised by developing standalone VR headsets.
- Build for accessibility. Design the user experience so that it is as easy and painless as possible for users to enter the festival. Compromise on this, and risk losing customers forever.
- Add quirks to immersive worlds. The added flairs add life and fun, which makes it enjoyable to discover and interact with.
- Test the platform as much as you can. Festivals cannot risk glitches on launch day.
All of these festivals compare favourably to other cultural events as well. Glastonbury Festival is a staple of the UK’s music culture. What was a massive festival where people partied and shared drugs, evolved into a massive festival where people partied and shared drugs secretly? The Glastonbury experience can be summarised by rain, mud, alcohol, and hearing problems that last long afterwards. Watching the event via a TV from home never matches the raw experience on the muddy lands of England.
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Curated by Tom Ffiske every Wednesday and Sunday, and enjoyed by over 5,000 professionals.
Editor, Immersive Wire
Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a twice-weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.