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The metaverse — a term originally coined by the author Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel ‘Snow Crash’ — is now widely used to describe how our physical realities will be augmented and overlaid by ambient and accessible digital experiences and services.
Luxury’s entrance into the metaverse was expedited by many brands’ leverage of new technologies to speak to consumers when lockdowns removed physical interactions in bricks-and-mortar stores and in-person events. But the impact of virtual and augmented reality on consumer behaviour preceded 2020: Forbes reported in 2019 that 40 percent of consumers were willing to spend more on a product they can experience through augmented reality technology first.
From stores that guide you from the street to luxury items designed exclusively for the smart glasses that every major tech platform is working on, the future of luxury is already here — it’s just not yet evenly distributed.
To discover what impact the metaverse will have on the future of the luxury goods industry, BoF spoke with four global experts to share their insights with host Robin Mellery-Pratt.
Ommy Akhe is one of the breakout stars of this first generation of AR. The creative technologist specialises in augmented reality, making experiential software and AR prototypes through tools such as Facebook’s Spark AR software.. Previously working as an ethical hacker in information security, the London-based developer has now created dozens of filters for platforms such as Instagram Stories and Facebook.
“In the digital space, there’s obviously a high profit margin because digital products are infinitely scalable. You write one programme or you have one object, and obviously this can be duplicated, whether it be a million times or one time.”
Sergey Arkhangelskiy is the founder and CEO of Wanna AR solutions, having previously worked as a lead engineer in Google’s search ranking team. Wanna has collaborated with the likes of Gucci, providing the technology behind their virtual try-ons and the creation of the brand’s first virtual sneakers.
“Digital fashion is for younger people, for Gen-Z, for millennials, for the people who are mobile, native or digital age [...] These people are critically important for those brands — this is the new generation of consumers, they’re becoming the purchasing power.”
Alissa Aulbekova and Paula Sello are co-founders and creative directors behind Auroboros, the first digital collection shown in London Fashion Week’s DiscoveryLAB. Auroboros is also part of the Sarabande Foundation. Aulbekovas previously worked at Dazed magazine as a fashion stylist, while Sello held previous roles as an archive assistant at Chanel and at Vogue as a fashion stylist.
“Since coming from this gaming generation, we’re really understood drop culture and how these games are becoming so hyperreal. It’s more a gamified experience [...] it’s all blurring lines between digital fashion and what you wear on your social media.”
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