BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Masterclass | Fashion’s New Digital Frontier

Virtual fashion has blown up this year, as brands have dabbled in gaming and piled into the NFT craze. Assess whether it’s a bubble or the next big thing with BoF Insights.
BoF Insights Masterclass: The Opportunity in Digital Fashion and Avatars

The author has shared a YouTube video.

You will need to accept and consent to the use of cookies and similar technologies by our third-party partners (including: YouTube, Instagram or Twitter), in order to view embedded content in this article and others you may visit in future.


Created by BoF’s journalists and editors, in conjunction with our wider network of leading fashion creatives, thought-leaders, and innovators, Masterclasses are in-depth webinars with supporting resources, designed to deliver key learning outcomes on critical industry topics.

One of fashion’s hottest trends this year is clothes that can’t be worn at all. Brands have gone big on virtual dressing, dabbling in digital fashion and scoring blow-out sales on NFT drops.

But is the buzz the mark of a bubble or a real long-term opportunity? For this Masterclass, BoF’s director of research and analysis, Diana Lee, and head of strategy, Rahul Malik, spoke with Rachel Waller, global vice president of channel innovation at Burberry, and Helene Phillips, global head of digital and client experience at Jimmy Choo about how the fashion industry can prepare for the next digital frontier.

The conversation drew on analysis from BoF Insights’ digital fashion report, focusing on how brands can look beyond the current hype to future opportunities. Digital assets will be integral to future-proofing businesses as consumers spend a growing amount of time online, the report found.

“Fashion is about building universes and making you dream. In many ways, what we have here is an opportunity to bring some of those dreams to life,” said Burberry’s Waller. The digital realm “allows us to tell stories in a much richer way than maybe some of the previous canvases have before.”

Burberry has partnered with the video game Blankos Block Party to launch one-of-a-kind branded avatars. The characters are non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, unique digital assets whose authenticity and ownership are verified by a digital ledger known as a blockchain. It’s part of a strategy to tap into Gen-Z audiences and capitalise on the growing proportion of time consumers are spending online.

To be sure, such projects are still largely experimental and there are plenty of questions around how emerging technologies will serve the fashion industry in the long term. Gaming is one way in for now, but there are other potentially bigger opportunities.

For instance, NFTs have burgeoning applications, including as a creative new type of loyalty scheme to reward communities. The panellists pointed to the fervour of the Bored Apes Yacht Club community — and the associated social capital of being a member — as an example. With the number of possibilities and the options for engagement, it is incumbent on fashion brands and retailers to choose wisely in picking their next steps.

Brands shouldn’t try to go it alone, but collaborate with partners who speak to the audience they are targeting. Jimmy Choo auctioned two types of NFTs that were designed by New York artist Eric Haze and curated by Japanese style icon Poggy.

“The short-term play is having strategic partnerships with the right players,” said Phillips, noting that Jimmy Choo tapped strategic partners to “ensure they had the right contacts on platforms, including with crypto communities.”

Digital Fashion & Avatars Decoded
Further Reading

In This Article

© 2023 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Technology
Analysis and advice on how technology is disrupting fashion and creating new opportunities.

The data and technology business has developed proprietary tools that allow analysis of customer engagement, marketing strategies and lifetime value, working with the likes of The Economist, MyTheresa and Diageo. BoF speaks to Good Growth’s CEO and co-founder to learn more.

The sneaker brand has faced challenges in the year since it launched a 3D online space and introduced NFT-linked sneakers, but it sees a long-term opportunity ahead in virtual goods and experiences, including a chance to make them a significant part of its business.

The company, which rolled out its Shop feature to all US users this week, is banking on its powerful algorithm to help it succeed where Instagram and others have failed by delivering a constant stream of products along with its targeted content into users’ feeds.

view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
Introducing The BoF Brand Magic Index
© 2023 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
Introducing The BoF Brand Magic Index