Holidays in the metaverse: What’s trending this year – Vogue Business

“Co-creation” is integral to Roblox, and helps brands build “authentic and native connections with brand loyalists and new customers globally,” says Christina Wootton, VP of global brand partnerships at Roblox. Ralph Lauren’s space, developed in collaboration with Roblox development studio Funomena, includes customisable textures for a realistic Alpine winter backdrop.

The holiday shopping season is a popular time for brands to test new formats and retail technology, and this year has been the year of the metaverse. Brands are unveiling upgraded virtual stores and metaverse platform partnerships that aim to reimagine the physical world — shopping and snowy vistas included. Ferragamo’s virtual “House of Gifts” takes customers inside the Italian villa location of the brand’s holiday campaign video. Dior Beauty’s virtual store was a bit more literal, in the form of a fantastical holiday Harrods boutique with a starry sky and blooming flowers inside; cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury has a “virtual beauty gifting wonderland.” Each includes the ability to shop for physical products, which are shown in the virtual spaces as three-dimensional renders.

Metaverse worlds saw build up leading into the holidays. This year, both Vans and Nike have created permanent Roblox worlds, while Balenciaga recently opened a store in Fortnite. Gucci has opened spaces in Roblox, Zepeto and Animal Crossing, among others; and Dior Beauty and Nars have opened experiences in Zepeto, which this month announced a $150 million fundraise.

Ralph Lauren is also not new to dressing avatars. In August, it opened a Zepeto experience with digital clothing; last year, it partnered with Bitmoji and parent-company Snap on a collection of virtual items. Last holiday season, it opened virtual stores inspired by its stores in New York, Beverly Hills, Moscow, Paris and Hong Kong. “Our engagement in the metaverse is a natural extension of our lifestyle brand which, at its core, has always been about stepping into the worlds of Ralph Lauren,” says Alice Delahunt, Ralph Lauren’s chief digital and content officer, who recently told Vogue Business that the time Gen Z spends in Roblox compared to social media is “incredibly compelling”.

In a November report on the metaverse opportunity for luxury fashion brands, Morgan Stanley reported that social gaming platforms such as Roblox allow brands to monetise the “vast [intellectual property] built over decades”, and that spaces such as Roblox will enable brands to appeal to a broader audience, especially younger customers and male customers.

It’s still early. “I wouldn’t say that ‘metaverse experimentation’ is yet a thing other than in marketing — literally,” says Julie Ask, Forrester VP and principal analyst. “There is interest.”

While Ralph Lauren’s Roblox holiday experience is temporary, the brand sees long-term potential in virtual spaces, Delahunt says. “Our partnership with Roblox builds on years of digital innovation and underlines our belief in the opportunity that virtual spaces and economies present — especially when it comes to the next generation of consumers.”

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The fashion exec’s guide to the metaverse

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