When does clothing become fashion? When is virtual clothing fashion? At the second Metaverse Fashion Week, CEOs of top physical and digital fashion firms have displayed their finest solutions to that question since Tuesday. Virtual fashion can reach the most people without using real-world resources, according to some designers. Even online, fashion awes some.
The acclaimed Chinese American fashion designer Vivienne Tam’s first virtual couture is making ripples on Decentraland’s virtual catwalk. The one-of-a-kind NFT, a virtual qipao garment digitally embroidered with the likenesses of three avatars from the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection in a mandala pattern, was meticulously crafted by Tam and Brand New Vision (BNV).
Tam’s Web3 debut dress. She has produced provocative, physical couture with an East-meets-West flair for over 30 years. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York have several of these. She’s also modeled Bored Ape-branded clothing.
Tam didn’t enter the virtual world until she was asked to create an NFT fashion item for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s 60th anniversary. Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, and Willy Chavarria were invited to create one-of-a-kind NFTs for the event. “The other designers basically took things they were famous for, historic aspects, and produced a digital version of them,” BNV CEO Richard Hobbs told Decrypt. “Vivienne made her piece fully relevant to Web3.”
Tam didn’t find building fashion on the blockchain strange or repetitive. Web3 was a natural extension of the designer’s work. Tam told Decrypt that bringing harmony, legacy, and history to something new was wonderful. “But it’s not just being new. It connects ancient to new, East to West, nature to digital. Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer at Web3 consultancy Journey and “godmother of the metaverse,” bought the photo-realistic clothing developed on the Polygon blockchain with BNV backing.
Hackl, who chaired Metaverse Fashion Week last year, saw the NFT as the perfect example of virtual fashion as an extension of physical couture infused with Web3 values. Hackl told Decrypt the acquisition was not an NFT. “It’s fashion history on-chain.” The piece’s uniqueness matched Hackl’s virtual fashion knowledge.
“I don’t conceive of virtual fashion as mass market,” she remarked. “I’m thinking virtual couture. Unique items that generate virtual fashion moments.” BNV helped Hackl turn her recently acquired outfit into a digital wearable compatible with Decentraland, where many Metaverse Fashion Week events are held. Tam supported Decentraland’s aesthetic approach, even though it dulled the dress’s brilliance and definition.
“The objective is for people to engage with the fashion,” she stated. There are compromises, but more individuals may benefit. More democratic.” Couture virtual fashion may not be for the people. Like physical couture, it is meant for the masses.