A new 24 hour metaverse festival launched this week, bringing together leaders in the fashion industry to discuss the future of the digital world. Meta Festival, which was organised and co-founded by global digital agencies Dept and Journee, looked to establish a conversation around the metaverse, with the likes of tech developers and digital designers each contributing to discussions on loyalty and engagement in the virtual space. A total of 6,500 attendees joined the virtual world, Dept told FashionUnited, while several hundred others tuned into the agency’s live streams on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Twitch.
On entering the platform, visitors were taken to a main menu reminiscent of an old-school desktop screen, through which pop-ups allowed users to then view live streamed panel talks and enter the festival’s virtual world, Metapolis. Once in the world, users could select from a colour wheel to subtly customise a disco-headed avatar, which was then transported into a whimsical environment that was free to move through. On exploration, avatar’s could walk through the event’s fairly large open world map, which was plastered in unusual sights, metallic shrubbery and interactive activations.
The metaverse provides a wealth of opportunities
Certain areas of the map were separated into dedicated spaces for each topic covered by the festival, which, on entering, users could access various pre-recorded presentations and speeches by different influential individuals in the tech industry. Digital fashion designer Schirin Negahbani, for example, was among those included in the ‘Immersive Experiences’ section, and as approaching a virtual screen, her pre-recorded presentation appeared in which she detailed her personal experiences as a designer in this space.
In the ‘Art/Pop Culture’ area, Tommy Hilfiger’s director of digital product creation, Tracey Mancenido, spoke on the use of digital assets as a form of storytelling, noting that the development of these assets gives way for “new opportunities for how we express ourselves and provides potential to unlock unlimited possibilities''. During his own presentation, Ren Stern, the founder of Senspace, a Japanese Web3 platform for upcoming creators, also spoke of the potential in digitisation. “Brands may enhance the value of their brand through digitisation,” he said. “The future of the market is building entertainment, putting consumer value first.”
For the festival’s live panel programme, a flurry of representatives from big name brands took part in discussions that largely revolved around the creation of an inclusive and safe environment for those using the metaverse. In a talk that saw participation from the likes of H&Mbeyond’s head of innovation, Oliver Lange, and innovation lead, Timo Wolf, as well as Bradford Bird, partnerships and collaboration at The Fabricant, the panel discussed the importance of building such a welcoming space and touched on the need for education in order to bring more people into the industry to help develop this new environment. Similarly, Burberry’s global VP digital product Sylvain Langrand and Exclusible CEO Thibault Launay also discussed, during a trend talk, the desire to develop the metaverse in a gradual and thoughtful way, with each panellist emphasising the need to view space almost like a third existence alongside the real world.
In a release, co-founder and managing director of Journee, Thomas Johann Lorenz, said on the participation: “Leaders in the fashion industry have already shown their intentions to make the metaverse a new centre stage of fashion as it continues to evolve digitally. We see it in how people are laser-focused on how they look and what they’re wearing in the metaverse. It’s a new way to be seen.”
Lorenz added: “In an industry like fashion that is all about experience and brands, the metaverse is where the future lies when it comes to digital communication.”
In consideration for those that couldn’t attend, Dept also uploaded all of the panel discussions and presentations on its dedicated YouTube channel, allowing visitors to continue accessing its content.