The ‘phygital’ concept is a one being rapidly adopted by brands, retailers and designers alike, and sees the merging of physical and digital activations, such as in-person events shown in the digital world or vice versa. Its integration into various marketing strategies has been adopted by a number of big name brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, which exercised the concept in its recent New York Fashion Week event, where it held a real life show parallel to a metaverse-based event on Roblox.
As new metaverse platforms develop and adapt, fashion’s stance in the digital world is also likely to change. However, for some, the industry will be at the core of their mission and will therefore define how the culture of a particular virtual world operates.
Swagga, a newly established metaverse, hopes to help define fashion’s future in this rapidly changing space. The Japan-based company, formed through Blocverse DAO’s recent acquisition of Swagga Studio, merges the latter’s intellectual property (IP) capabilities with the former’s play-to-earn (P2E) project, Blocwars. The decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), a community-led entity, aims to utilise the Swagga platform as a space on which to construct its immersive experience for brands and users, by bringing together fashion and e-commerce with social networking.
Speaking to FashionUnited, Ryo, the founding director of Swagga, elaborated on the platform’s concept, stating: “Swagga will be built on the basis of the exploration in Web3, connections between fashion brands and artists, and the rich experience of non-fungible token (NFT) IP development. Together, we’ll create a phygital metaverse that combines the elements of fashion, amusement, social network and e-commerce, while bridging the gap between Web2 and Web3 for a wider audience globally.”
Turning ‘likes’ into value for customers
The metaverse will be based upon a ‘Swag-to-Earn’ concept, which allows players to earn revenue by showing off what they own in the digital world, essentially swapping social ‘likes’ into value. As users move through the game, they can increase their Fashion, Amusement and Social (F.A.S) indexes by attending fashion events, socialising with others and getting involved in activities. Each of the three indexes will be evaluated in order for the player to earn ‘swag points’ on a daily basis and therefore receive rewards.
Swagga hopes that this concept will appeal to users and brands alike, providing incentivising benefits for both. Like players, fashion brands can apply to enter the platform and build their own establishments, such as shops or offices, or develop further in-game collaborations, like co-branding with Swagga’s staple Onimaru NFTs. As part of its ‘phygital’ concept, Swagga is also looking to offer both physical and digital products for clothing and footwear, with further future plans revolving around Web3 and real-life stores. The company has already begun executing its phygital presence in the form of in-person exhibitions in Japan, which has seen a range of its Onimaru characters displayed in collaboration with various artists.
However, Ryo noted that much of Swagga’s emphasis will be on the development of Web2.5, the in between of Web2 and Web3. “Our ambition is not simply to develop a metaverse platform, but a metaverse ecosystem to benefit the users, the industry and the world,” he said, adding that its F.A.S concept will be a major part of its Web2.5 goals. Part of this comes with lowering the barriers Web3 creates by providing more choice of payment methods, allowing Web2 users to operate in ways they are familiar with and tackling obstacles for both players and brands.
Building a metaverse ecosystem
Its emphasis on boosting fashion in the digital world will also be present in collaborations and partnerships with academic institutions, such as hosting joint designing competitions in Swagga. On the topic, Ryo said: “With these collaborations, we can provide a world-wide stage for the young designers and creators to show their talents, bringing the metaverse new blood and innovative ideas. On the other hand, the collaborations with academic institutions are also another way of increasing the influence of Swagga among Web2 users.”
Swagga’s underlining of fashion’s place in its metaverse comes as brands increasingly look to enter the digital space via varying platforms. The global metaverse market was valued at 40 billion dollars in 2021 and is estimated to surpass 1.6 trillion dollars by 2030, according to Precedence Research. An additional report by Research and Markets also found that market opportunities on metaverse platforms could see digital asset marketplaces valued at 224.9 billion dollars by 2027.
Fashion brands looking to capitalise on this predicted growth can make use of a wide range of functions, such as branding, marketing and e-commerce experiences through Web3, as the combination of fashion and the metaverse creates a slew of new opportunities. “Looking into the trend of the digital world, as immersive technology rapidly grows on both software and wearable hardware, the need for immersive spatial entertainment could be a necessity,” Ryo noted. “There, users will no longer be shackled to their gender, race or nationality, and connect with anyone you want.”
Ultimately, Ryo’s vision for Swagga is the development of a visualised immersive infrastructure, where players and brands can enter a standardised metaverse in which they can express themselves and “live another life”.