Which luxury fashion house is dominating the Metaverse?
Kicking off Milan fashion week in style
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Today we have a special guest post from Blake Finucane, host of the podcast, Context: Views on Crypto and Culture. She has been running the NFT Fund at Emergent Entertainment since March 2021, investing early in projects like Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, Fidenzas, and Ringers and is currently leading the roll-out of their upcoming Web3 game, Resurgence. She has a masters in Art History and was one of the first to publish an academic thesis on crypto art back in 2018. She is passionate about the convergence of art, fashion, gaming, and blockchain.
Edited by Carly Reilly
Milan Fashion Week kicks off tomorrow where all eyes will be on the Italian fashion powerhouses: Prada, Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci – the familiar faces.
But three years ago, Gucci broke from fashion royalty protocol by announcing they wouldn’t be showing at any of the major fashion weeks – at least for the foreseeable future – opting, instead, to create their own events calendar.
While the fashion world normally marches (catwalks) in February and September, Gucci hosted a show in, gasp, November. And it wasn’t in the fashion capitals – New York, Paris, Milan or London – it was in, gasp again, Los Angeles: ground zero for Ozempic and the influencers who take it.
This wasn’t an arbitrary choice, of course. They were there for those influencers. Of all the fashion houses, Gucci is driving hardest and fastest (or at least the most successfully) toward attracting the holy grail: Gen Z and Gen Alpha. They’re meeting these consumers where they are: online, all the time.
Gucci hasn’t just seen the writing on the wall, they’re the graffiti artists. Gen Z and Gen Alpha don’t care about being seen at the mall, they care about views on TikTok. They don’t want to be movie stars, they want to be Instagram influencers. They don’t want cash, they want Robux. (“Kids Don’t Want Cash, They Want Robux” was an actual, recent WSJ headline)
If you aren’t tracking the fashion houses or their digital departments closely, Gucci’s dominance here could be easily missed. Afterall, we’re inundated with headlines about every brand, every luxury fashion player doing something metaverse or metaverse-adjacent.
Gucci’s former creative director Alessandro Michele – who announced his departure from the house in November (devastating TBH) – is a genius. But, at the end of the day, the key to their strategy has been pretty basic: consistency & breadth (quality’s a given).
In 2019 Louis Vuitton created in-game skins and a physical capsule for League of Legends.
In 2021 they launched a mobile game, where players were rewarded with NFTs designed by Beeple (and amassed more than 2 million downloads)
Earlier this year, they utilized Snap’s AR Function to decorate global landmarks in Yayoi Kusama’s iconic, colorful dots. Kusama is one of the most famous artists on the planet and a collaborator for their latest collection
As a series of one-off headlines, that might look pretty good.
All told, it is pretty good. I would say Louis Vuitton – and LVMH writ large – “get it.” For a brand run by a 70-year-old, French billionaire, they really get it.
But then there’s Gucci. In the same timeframe, they:
Created in-game apparel for The Sims
Designed a Gucci-themed island in Animal Crossing
Partnered with Pokemon Go, allowing users to wear avatar items based on a limited edition capsule collection
Sold virtual sneakers in their personal app for $12.99, which included an AR try on experience and downloadable assets to use in Roblox.
Announced the Gucci Gaming Academy last May to back emerging e-sports talent. The four chosen players are part of the Faceit Pro League (FPL), which has more than 26 million players and is the top league for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Delved into web3 with their “Gucci Vault,” which “plays host to a series of crypto based projects.”
Partnered with Superplastic to release 3 NFT collections, called “Supergucci” - each with physical ceramic sculptures. Members of the Gucci Vault discord server got first access to purchase.
Experimented with the relationship between high-end physical collectibles and NFTs, which creates additional revenue opportunities and useful ways to track the authenticity/provenance of physical items.
Collaborated with the lore driven NFT project 10KTF (co-founders include Guy Oseary and Beeple) via a mint pass called the Gucci Grail that was available to those in the 10KTF and Gucci Vault discords and to select high value PFP communities (including Bored Ape Yacht Club). This pass could only be redeemed if you held these eligible PFPs and resulted in a new NFT of your PFP wearing a Gucci-designed outfit.
And I’m sure I’m missing a couple things (for both brands). Louis Vuitton isn’t a cherry-picked example - go down the line, Gucci comes out on top. Yes, every consumer brand is playing in this new digital Sandbox. So it can be hard to separate signal from noise and understand who’s actually doing it well. Who’s doing it the best? Who’s doing it the most? Who’s making it core to their strategy vs. a sideshow to hedge against obsolescence.
In Fashion, it’s Gucci.
And it’s paying off.
Gucci is the most popular luxury brand on SnapChat among Gen Z.
Their augmented reality try-on campaign on SnapChat – the first, as far as I know, though I’m always hesitant to say so as you know there’s some nerd in the back ready to correct you – reached 20 million people.
Their two-week event in Roblox in May 2021 called The Gucci Garden Experience was visited by over 19 million users -- where they sold a handbag selling for ~$4,115, more than the physical was worth (~$3,400)!
If you’re new to the world of fashion, but interested in tracking brands in the metaverse, Gucci is the one to watch, as they continue to push the limits of what is possible in the metaverse. Just last week they published a video profile of Sheever (a prominent Dota 2 commenter and content creator) on their YouTube channel, as part of the Gucci Gaming Academy.
They are leading the charge to redefine digital marketing and communication, find meaningful ways to strengthen their relationship to the customer, and underscore their brand identity as fashion forward, innovative, and best in class.
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