The Metaverse establishes connections among persistent digital worlds, and in the future they’ll link up further as you might buy fashion on one platform and wear it in another, according to Alex Lambert, creative director at Happy Finish, a creative tech production agency.
Mr. Lambert, please, introduce yourself and speak about Happy Finish.
I’m Alex Lambert, and I'm a creative director at Happy Finish. Happy Finish is a creative tech production agency. We were founded in 2004 and now operate through five locations globally in London, Portland, Milan, Verona and Amsterdam. We work at the intersection of content design, emerging technology, and immersive storytelling – creating content and experiences that are at the forefront of what is possible, right across multiple channels, touchpoints and verses. Our fashion clients include Dolce & Gabbana and Balmain. Have you already worked with any fashion brand with the Metaverse?
We have been doing a lot of work in relation to this with one of the world’s major apparel brands for a couple of years now. In terms of what’s public facing and also in terms of their internal processes - expanding from delivery of their apparel and footwear, moving into how the tools that exist within the metaverse allow people to collaborate and design globally.
What kind of collaborations did you work on?
So many kinds of projects – from digital representations of existing products through to creating new products specifically for digital. We’re currently working with Dutch brand Gauge81 in this space at the moment, we just delivered a fabric simulation activation for them.
It’s exciting! What I really love is the blurring between the digital and physical and what that’s going to become. Some people fear it becoming some kind of dystopian nightmare, but in reality, people are more sensible than that. What’s going to be most exciting isn’t disappearing into a virtual world, it will be seeing virtual elements coming into the real world. This is where NFT roadmaps come in – for example, the ability to say I own an NFT as a picture that can then be a promise for a 3D model I can use in a virtual world. If that NFT is a virtual jacket, eventually you’ll be able to wear that virtual jacket in the real world. That’s what this is all about: How we can augment the real world with digital elements, not disappear into a virtual reality.
Can a fashion brand truly benefit from it?
You can advertise and have a presence to drive interest. Then see what the reaction is and who is engaging, same as you would with any market. Test if a presence is relevant to you. You’ll find that it is. Connections to new audiences, particular younger ones, is a key benefit.
It’s really important in terms of brand equity, too. All the major tech companies are really backing the idea of the metaverse and the idea of mixed realities – it’s not something that’s going to go away. So get in early, develop an understanding and be authentic, otherwise a few years from now you’re going to be playing catch up.
A whole new revenue model is coming. What’s happened already is you’ve got your early starters from other sectors, they got ahead in terms of metaverse fashion. They’ve proven the market is there. Now the big fashion brands are catching up. And there is a lot of work to do internally to enable them to do so.
I don’t think that’s a problem. The metaverse is a concept. People need to be aware that the idea of the metaverse goes beyond Decentraland and Sandbox, other platforms are out there. And some of them have millions of users and inside those spaces they sell digital fashion, often that’s the main revenue driver. A big part of this is all about fashion. People want to buy fashion in order to be able to express themselves on those platforms.
With everything going on in terms of cryptocurrencies and NFTs and similar aspects, it’s easy to lose sight of what the metaverse really is – it’s persistent digital worlds. In the future, they’ll link up, and you’ll be able to buy fashion on one platform and wear it in another. If I’m joining that space, I’ll find my brand affinities where I feel I’m best represented, as I would in any other physical space. If they already have an affinity with your brand, they’ll want to follow you in the metaverse and see what you’re doing there. The key is to look at where your market is playing in the metaverse and make sure you’re not letting them down when they arrive.
How can a fashion brand get the best from the Metaverse for itself in order to attract the younger (and the tech-fan) consumers?
Same as any other place, it’s about being authentic, knowing your market and knowing what they want. The ability for customers to be able to express themselves in new fantastic, outrageous ways exists in the metaverse in a way it doesn’t anywhere else, so it’s about crystallising your idea of what your brand will be in the digital space. It’s not necessarily just about detail, maybe you express your brand quality in other ways – maybe it’s about the animation around the product, maybe it’s the textures on them. There are lots of different ways you can identify how your brand pushes its ideals visually and even audibly in the space.
What do you think of first Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) that just took place?
Conceptionally it’s placing a stake in the sand. The kinds of brands that were involved, from Tommy Hilfiger to Dolce & Gabbana to Selfridges add a lot of credence to it. It was a great future-gazing opportunity for the industry, a chance to see what brands are doing, what their representations are and where they’re going to go with it.
With these things you always end up in a position where there is initial interest and some initial hype, and then it dies down a bit, but it’s not going anywhere at the end of the day. It’s the same with any new concept and new technology, people go hard at the beginning and then numbers tail off a bit, but it’s still here to stay.