Imagine a line of ultra-luxurious fashion generated without physical raw materials. If it sounds like the stuff of science fiction, brace yourself because it’s all happening now.
Take Fortnite, for example. The mega-hit open-world metaversal game has a revenue upwards of US$ 5 billion as of 2020, with a thriving in-world society composed of wearable skins, events, and concerts thrown by uber-famous musicians like Diplo and Steve Aoki, and crossovers with heavyweight Marvel franchises. All of this results in a dynamic and rapidly expanding user base. Every year, Fortnite adds nearly 50 million new users to its ranks.
With the expansion of Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, and blockchain-powered worlds like Decentralland and Cryptovoxels, a future where we are citizens of two worlds – a physical world and a virtual world – is now on the horizon.
So, obviously, people will eventually have to buy digital clothes. A necklace or a collectible hat that you can wear on Zoom calls, in your virtual workspace, or out in a virtual amusement park on a starry evening. The emerging metaverse means that your digital buys have the potential to be carried over into different digital scenarios and environments, fleshing out a fully idealised personal identity.
Separate from the digital market, the fashion industry as a whole is a vast behemoth, worth nearly US$ 3 trillion. And with the rise of the metaverse, it’s set up to balloon even more.
Dolce and Gabbana have emerged as a front-runner digitally, with a hybrid sale of a physical and an NFT D&G bespoke crown being auctioned for north of a million dollars. There’s also the sustainability side of things.
The fashion industry generates a huge chunk of the world’s waste, and that’s before we consider the squalid conditions of workers who make fast fashion possible. Digital fashion could offset those inequalities and make it possible to generate less waste while creating more outlets for fashion.
Real Estate in the Metaverse
Digital fashion is sold as wearable NFTs. There are also Land NFTs that enable users to manipulate digital packets of metaverse ‘lands’, much as they would physical acres. You can rent it, build on it, or save it for a rainy day. Simple as that.
And yet it’s much more. If you’re buying a flat and are standing in front of a half-completed building trying to imagine what it will look like, there’s now a way for builders to have soft digital openings where you can tour highly realised digital incarnations of your future home.
And in fully-fledged apartment blocks, there is a possibility to have an accompanying metaverse version of your home where you can participate in activities, events, and gatherings in your society without the requisite waste generation and physical resource allocation. You can even build your events set in a digital representation of your city or locality.
New opportunities for brokers and real estate firms will spring up, as metaversal entities such as Decentralland have started leasing and selling packets of Land NFTs. In fact, a patch of land in Decentralland recently sold for more than USD 2 million.
Parallel to the physical world, but largely unconstrained by the laws of physics, the metaverse will provide a new open space for leases, rentals, and the sale of advertising space. However, similar to all virtual worlds, there are currently limited packets of land available for sale, with these packets located in both desirable and non-desirable areas of the existing metaverse. The demand created by the relative scarcity of virtual land packets is therefore driving a boom in metaversal real estate.
These virtual markets, glittering outcrops of our physical industries, are creating whole new avenues of experience and commerce. As the metaverse becomes increasingly mainstream, it will be interesting to see how industry insiders map out these extensions and monitor their impact on the physical world.
Guest contributor Mannika Mishra is a UX Researcher at XR Central, an interactive tech studio focused on solving real business problems with virtual events, Augmented Reality, gamification, IoT, mobile apps, voice, and more. Any opinions expressed in this article are strictly that of the author.