Home / Industry / Retail /  Fashion in the Metaverse: What Avatars are wearing

Natalia Modenova and Daria Shapovalova want to help you get dressed—for the metaverse.

In 2020 the two founded DressX, an online retailer that sells digital fashion for avatars and images. Since then they launched a specialcollection in collaboration with Coca-Cola. In July, DressX became the first digital-only fashion company to provide apparel for Meta‘s new avatar-fashion marketplace, alongside luxury brands like Prada and Balenciaga.

Fashion pieces from DressX—creations that are often futuristic, conceptual, or structural in a way that would make physical versions impossible for humans to don—are applied to a digital photo of the buyer or on avatars in the metaverse and platforms like Roblox. Pieces range in price from a $5 bucket hat adorned with pink blooms to a $1,500 intergalactic-theme gown. The online retailer offers both original DressX designs and designer brand pieces.

“For us, partnering with Meta is one more argument towards digital fashion being relevant now," said Ms. Shapovalova, a 15-year veteran of the fashion industry who launched the Kiev Fashion Institute in Ukraine. With Ms. Modenova, who was previously chief operating officer of the fashion show Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days, she founded Fashion Tech Summit, an international conference that focused on bridging fashion and technology.

The DressXco-founders spoke with The Wall Street Journal recently about making digital fashion accessible, helping traditional brands enter the metaverse and why they hope every digitaldevice on the planet will one day include a DressX closet.

Describe the technical process of designing clothes for the Metaverse.

Ms. Modenova:Some of the elements of the traditional fashion industry are relevant. In every fashion house, there is a creative director. In digital fashion it is similar. There is an idea, and the design comes first.

Ms. Shapovalova:At DressX, there are 36 people; 25 are engineers and creative technologists. That is the greatest part of delivering the items. We sell about 3,000 pieces of merchandise on the DressX platform, designers from all over the world, 3-D brands and physical brands that we’re turning into 3-D.

Interoperability will be great as soon as we have it, but we’re not there yet; as of now we need to prepare outfits for different environments. Various platforms have various rules—Meta is very different from Roblox. We optimize 100% of the creation of the items for the DressX platform, so that anyone can start wearing and can start using digital fashion now.

You work with behemoth tech companies and with fashion brands that work in physical materials. How are those collaborations different?

Ms. Shapovalova: To be a supplier for tech companies is key, because it can lead to adoption, working with someone who already has a billion users. In fashion, there was a time 20 years ago when everyone started to do beauty lines. Not everyone can afford a Chanel dress, but almost anyone can afford a Chanel lipstick or nail polish. That is the same with digital collectibles. You can communicate that you associate yourself with the brand.

It is going to be a very fun tool that speaks to Gen Z and other generations. My 10-year-old son discovers friends from Roblox. He’s a living example for whom a digital wardrobe makes more sense than his physical wardrobe, and he’ll be the spender in five or six years.

DressX launched in 2020 and has expanded rapidly. What’s next?

Ms. Shapovalova: We don’t see digital fashion as something that will substitute for physical fashion. It isn’t the goal of the company—all of us love physical clothes.

There are some instances when it definitely makes sense to also have digital outfits. I have a friend, a YouTuber. She needs to dress in something new every day. There are more and more people – not only professional creators like her —who want to express themselves on social media or use their outfits in gaming.

You’re both from Ukraine, and you were early in the efforts to raise funds for Ukraine through cryptocurrency. How is that effort going?

Ms. Shapovalova: As soon as the invasion started we launched the first [digital] items in the Support Ukraine collection, which is still available on the website. We also partnered with crypto.com selling NFTs—digital proofs of purchase for items like art, music, or sneakers, stored on blockchains—inspired by Ukrainian motifs.

We have a Google Form where anyone can request funds. There is great help from the U.S. on a governmental level. But a creator who lost their equipment and can’t produce—we decided to focus on a really small niche of people. They are a part of the economy, and they can continue to create.

Ms. Modenova: A lot of people are dying, and that is the reality. However a lot of people are alive, working, creating value. With this war, I think the world understood how interconnected everything is and that Ukraine was contributing to a lot of industries.

What are your personal styles in the metaverse?

Ms. Shapovalova: I tend to wear something that wouldn’t be able to exist in reality. I think this is super cool and fun, dressing myself in something surreal, something that goes beyond physics, something that would be difficult to wear, not comfortable.

Ms. Modenova: From a technical standpoint, whenever something new is coming I want to try it. In the DressX app, I’m styling friends, I’m styling a lot of people. I’m just happy to show them how digital fashion works—people don’t expect that it is so easy or it can look so cool on them.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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