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The Debrief: Eva Chen on Meta’s Virtual Fashion Experiment

The vice president of fashion and shopping partnerships at Meta and BoF technology correspondent Marc Bain join Lauren Sherman to discuss the company’s new marketplace — which sells digital items from Thom Browne, Balenciaga and Prada — and the future of fashion on the platform.
The Debrief: Eva Chen on Meta’s Virtual Fashion Experiment

Background:

Social-media company Meta has launched a virtual clothing store, and Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne are the first major designers to create looks fit for avatars in Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse. The designs, available for use on Instagram, Facebook and Messenger, include a Balenciaga motorcycle suit, Prada shorts and one of Thom Browne’s signature grey suits. The move marks Meta’s formal entry into the virtual high-fashion business after Zuckerberg declared his ambitions to build the metaverse in late 2021.

“As a fashion person, it took me a little while to grasp exactly what [Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse] meant … People want as many ways as possible to express themselves via their avatars in the metaverse,” said Eva Chen, Meta’s vice president of fashion and shopping partnerships.

Key Insights:

  • Meta’s virtual goods represent an opportunity for consumers who may not be able to afford physical items from the labels, to own a piece of the iconic brands.
  • Chen said the designers already are masters of creating their own immersive worlds — whether through shows or clothes — so it wasn’t hard to get them interested in the experience. Translating real-world texture and detail to virtual items, however, was a challenge.
  • Right now, the metaverse doesn’t represent a huge revenue stream for fashion companies. But, being a first name to the nascent space has a branding advantage.
  • Soon, there could be outfits in virtual marketplaces that reflect different moods and scenarios. Further down the line, Chen says, the metaverse will be a place of limitless expression.
  • Eventually, when brands are able to make virtual items into NFTs, they’ll be able to create true ownership and scarcity, which could create the same dynamics of exclusivity and hype that drive fashion today.

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