When it comes to digital fashion, it seems that streetwear and luxury are leading the way to decentralization and the Metaverse. Marketing-wise, the Luxury colossuses are winking at GenZ, making remarkable investments in emerging consumer behaviors and engagement. But, streetwear – and broader, the whole lifestyle culture- is rooted into quite different reasonings.
Industry onlookers, get ready for a 360° insight into what has been defined as one of 2022’s main fashion trends: TNC is diving deeper into why the metaverse has been taken over by streetwear.
A year ago or so, NFTs opened the doors to a new era, boosting the one-of-a-kind culture and psychology of rare collectibles. On one hand, it smashed the art system, thus guaranteeing the authorship of digital pieces. On the other, branches of the creative industry were double-bounded to the “limited edition” duty. The first kicks in digital fashion were, literally, given by sneakerheads startups, like RTFKT – which was then acquired by Nike. These startups brought the concept of ‘hypercraft’ into the game, allowing their users to participate in the design process while producing unique items. It was just the beginning of the journey, but coolhunters of yesterday had already spotted the three main pillars that would become the driving force behind the NFT mania: uniqueness, authenticity, and community.
Sounds familiar? Way back when the current digital realm was still a cyberpunk fantasy, those three columns were seeded into the very core of every youth alternative culture. The fact that those youth subcultures gave birth to streetwear is something already carved in the rock of fashion history. It took the shape of a movement against expensive and elitist fashion, standing for attitude, creativity, and community instead.
This is where the difference between luxury and streetwear lies, and the Metaverse twist has just highlighted such a gap: the Meta-Luxury is a market; the Meta-Streetwear is an inception.
Beyond the inception: Streetwear brands and the Metaverse culture
Undoubtedly, the metaverse has raised the meaning of community to the next level. Hyper-immersive platforms such Discord or Clubhouse are taking the new digital fashion venue by storm, targeting specific users: mostly male, gaming enthusiasts, also interested in sneakers and the latest kicks into emerging marketplaces.
Unsurprisingly, those interconnected communities have opened the routes of new experimentation and co-creation. Interacting with consumers from the design process onwards. On top of that, brands are now expected to move forward past the limits and banality of content repeated across different channels. They should aim to engage via new digital assets, providing new formats which can be said to be ‘native’ to the Metaverse itself. The key is designing distinguishable items for each medium, especially for the tech-savvy Gen Z.
A nostalgic jump back into a bunch of decades ago can easily reveal how collabs have marked the history of urban culture, crossing the fashion, art, and music industries. If the scope is to build such an unprecedent world named the Metaverse, then it goes without saying that partnerships between arts are the way to bring unexpected approaches and innovations to the table.
As Bobby Hundreds – co-founder of L.A. streetwear label The Hundreds – has argued, at the end of the day NFTs, the Metaverse, and Web3 are all about decentralization of sedimented, old practices. On the wave of this technological inception, streetwear brands need to keep investing their energies in building and empowering communities.
The Meta-Streetwear trend: The fashion insight
Fashion is culture, and what we wear is our aspiration. It won’t be different within the highly engaged Metaverse community: from streetwear to screenwear, what is at stake is identity affirmation, regardless of whether the garment is virtual or physical.
Now that this smoke has been cleared, it’s time to answer that question stuck on the tip of everybody’s tongue.
What’s the current key trend driving the MetaStreetwear newness?
From Phys to Meta. And Back!
2022 has definitely bridged the path between physical and digital.
At the birth of digital fashion, what came to mind was the attitude to rethink ‘traditional’ items – if we can ever talk about ‘traditional streetwear!- into a virtual environment. Still, this trend is permutating into the emerging #collectiblesneakers communities targeted by industry giants. With its first Ethereum NFT-based RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks, Nike has recreated parallelism with physical design while embracing the new technological possibilities. Despite its digital nature, the kick maintains a wearable shape, altered via collectible “Skin Vials” enabling different styles.
A simultaneous counter-wave seems to have found its expression in the last months. Here at TNC, we’ve recently discussed how footwear design is affected by digital sneakers.
“But it seems to us like there’s a tide coming in, and slowly but surely 3D design, NFT sneakers and digital fashion in general, are distinctly influencing traditional footwear design and manufacturing processes. Now it’s not just life on the streets migrating to the screens. Now it’s happening the other way round too”TNC’s Editorial Director, Marina Azcárate.
Indeed, moving along the intercross of Physical and Virtual clothing design, some notes are due. The #extremevolume and #hyperbright streetwear mania have obviously been smashing the virtual ground. Exceed the limits of physical: that’s the rule! Still representing a bridge between the newness and the tradition, this trend isn’t experiencing a one-way journey.
The rise of the Metaverse inevitably carries newness to youth-led streetwear, through oversized silhouettes. Moreover, whether it’s coming from pioneer brands, creative collabs, or influencers, fashion communication is translating futuristic aesthetics into a physical, Metastreetwear trend. The infinite possibilities of shapes, textures and meta-fabrics are boosting a new generation of physical #youthessentials.