We have the pleasure of working with pioneering brands and people, to create digital experiences that move our industry towards the promise of the Metaverse.
Whether you think the Metaverse is the future or not, many of the learnings we’ve picked up along the way apply to digital fashion experiences in general.
The last few years have challenged many organisations to go beyond their digital comfort zone and innovate faster. Working with digital technology has allowed companies in all industries to keep going and growing.
In general, except for e-commerce, fashion has been primarily considered an offline experience.
Recently, however, as sustainability and a focus on digital experiences become more important, many fashion organisations are going beyond that siloed view to incorporate offline and online experiences into their brands.
New digital fashion houses are challenging traditional brands to innovate beyond the runway - whether in the Metaverse or via AR. And on top of this, consumers still want to connect in person with real people.
In this article, we share four considerations for creating better online and offline fashion experiences.
1. Getting sensory and tactility interactions right
In 2020, all fashion trade shows and fairs stopped as the world went into lockdown.
Many of the fashion and textile world’s smaller players relied solely on in-person events to do business, so the lockdowns were life-threatening to many firms in the industry.
Some players decided to take the matter into their own hands, and a small textile pattern design studio in Wales - RMF Studio - applied for a government grant to innovate themselves out of their predicament.
We were asked to help them create a digital tool that could bridge the gap between the creative and sales processes for textile pattern designers.
The outcome of the collaboration was SwatchEditor, a SAAS product that enables textile designers to upload their swatches and visualize, curate, and share them using real-time 3D.
The product offers 3D visualization in flowing fabrics, scrunch, and product visualization (on a 3D model). We anticipated that the 3D product viewer would be the most valued feature of the product; however, in the user research, we found that many users gravitated to the scrunch feature of the fabric. This allowed them to get a feeling for the tactility of the swatch and easier envision how it would realistically behave on an end product.
Tying this back to digital experiences for things like the Metaverse, there is a lot of talk about immersion, which often is synonymous with better graphics and flashy effects. However, our learning from the SwatchEditor project is that sometimes it’s the tiny details of interaction that resemble reality that really makes the difference.
The key takeaway
To elicit positive emotional responses from your audience, pay as much attention to the micro-tactile and sensory interactions as you do to building immersive environments.
2. Facilitating meaningful co-creation opportunities
Our first contact with the future of self-expression online, and the Metaverse, was through our work with The Fabricant, a digital-only fashion house based in Amsterdam.
In 2020, we worked with The Fabricant to create its MVP for a digital self-expression platform - LEELA - enabling users to turn themselves into digital avatars and then dress them with digital apparel.
The MVP was met with critical acclaim, including winning Dutch Design Awards 2021 for best fashion experience, and served as the foundation for The Fabricant’s Series A round to create the “Wardrobe of the Metaverse.”
Today, The Fabricant operates a global digital fashion house, and LEELA is now called The Fabricant Studio, offering a completely digital fashion co-creation experience and NFT marketplace.
Our most significant learning from working with the nascent Web3 community was its focus on co-creation, co-ownership, and co-monetization and the notion that it must be at the heart of fashion’s future.
The Fabricant's success and rise to fame lie in their relentless pursuit of giving back the power of creation to the people. They empower people to express themselves freely while sharing a piece of the financial upside through co-monetization using blockchain and smart-contract technology.
The key takeaways
Brands and designers of digital fashion experiences should consider creating room for meaningful co-creation with creators, communities, and consumers and, in doing so, embracing the discomfort of no longer being in 100% control of the creative execution.
3. Designing against economic and social disparity
ALTAVA Group is a Singaporean/Korean Metaverse company that helps culture-defining luxury brands such as Moncler, Prada and Balmain to enter the Metaverse.
ALTAVA engaged Your Majesty for a complete brand transformation that included brand and visual identity, go-to-market strategy, design of its NFT marketplace, and a UI kit for its mobile styling game—ALTAVA Worlds of You.
In ALTAVA, players can create avatars, dress them in virtual luxury goods and NFTs and roam around ALTAVA’s own virtual world.
During our research into player behaviors, we found out that players not only played the game to express their virtual selves but also to find their own unique selves in the first place.
One research participant said, "I'm generally a shy person and get easily intimidated by others. ALTAVA gives me a safe space to explore my identities and find my style.".
Many of the people we talked to expressed that they felt intimidated to try out clothes in the real world because of out-of-reach prices of luxury brands and the sense of judgment of going into a store to try things out.
We found this a profound insight since fashion brands and agencies typically go on to fit digital worlds with more luxurious items, advanced skins, and scarce accessories without considering the audiences we leave outside of the experience by perpetuating the impression of scarcity and exclusivity.
Brands and designers can create more inclusive experiences without sacrificing brand status by deliberately considering alternative models for consumers to access and interact with digital fashion items. Designers can develop mechanics that incentivize support and collaboration rather than zero-sum games.
4. Reconnecting people with the real world
So far, we’ve advocated for bringing more real worlds into the virtual world. However, it is also essential that we, as designers, reconnect people with our one-and-only physical world.
In 2021, Your Majesty worked with SoleSavy, a sneaker community that combines technology and insider knowledge to help members buy, sell, and trade sneakers. In addition to giving the brand a visual identity refresh, we worked with them to design the marketing website and community platform.
SoleSavy’s community spans over 5000 members, and it’s an online-first community run almost entirely on Slack.
For being online-first, what was refreshing for us to see was the incredible bond these members have with one another. Loving sneakers can be lonely if you do not have a group of people who understand, support, and be there for you—and that’s what the SoleSavy community is all about.
SoleSavy’s real-world events bring hundreds of people, from all over the world, to celebrate their love for sneakers.
The simple act of being in the same physical space and seeing a diverse representation of fashion gives the online community even more weight and substance. Many members said that the in-person events were one of the key drivers to staying a member.
The success of SoleSavy lies in its balance between online and offline member experiences, reminding us of the importance of the physical world in the ever-increasingly digital reality.
Any brand that wants to succeed moving forward must focus on creating seamless cross-world experiences for its consumers. Designers should help consumers appreciate the real world and not just command their attention to screens.
Keys to successful digital fashion experiences can be found in one or a combination of the following considerations:
- Getting sensory and tactility interactions right
- Facilitating meaningful co-creation opportunities
- Designing against the economic and social disparity
- Reconnecting people with the real world
Viet Hoang, Strategy Director
Georgios Athanassiadis, Managing Partner
Sarah Warsaw, Marketing Manager