The Avatar Wear Prada – The New York Times

That’s it.

Last October, after Mark Zuckerberg revealed his vision for the new Meta (formerly Facebook) and the wonderful future that awaits in Web 3.0, and was constantly teased for his decision to do so through the same representation of Zuckerberg wearing the same clothes. In his daily life – this, in a world of boundless possibilities! – Meta accepts the issue and throws down the gauntlet of selection.

“Hey, Balenciaga,” the company tweeted“What is the dress code in the metaverse?”

This week Balenciaga responds, along with Prada and Thom Browne, courtesy of Meta’s new avatar fashion store, which has just launched for users in the US, Canada, Thailand and Mexico. Although the social media company offers a variety of free (and generic) outfits for avatars on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, this is the first time it has registered a reputable designer to create features for virtual purchases.

And the answer is … red Balenciaga logo hoodie.

There are also thin ripped jeans and a plaid shirt, motocross jumpsuit, black skirt suit, and low jeans paired with logo tee and logo briefs (all four outfits). Quintessential Balenciaga See, in other words, for everyone who has followed the brand. Like Thom Browne’s proposal, the shrink-fit three-piece suit, the gray skirt suit and the shorts are Mr. Browne’s trademark uniforms. And at least one of the Prada squares – a white T-shirt with a triangular logo and a layered skirt – seems to come from the latest runway (although they do offer a multi-year-old logo t-shirt).

But still, is that it?

Here are four of the most creative people, considered to be the fashion designers working today – Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons of Prada, and Browne – the fashion designers that IRL struggles with the most social and political way to create the necessary identity. Level; Working designers deal with climate change, gender, war, capitalism, the question of value and viral celebrity. And could all of them (or perhaps their digital, commercial and marketing teams) have come up with the task of imagining dressing up in an infinite space by gravity and physical constraints is a cartoon copy of one of the most familiar clothing they already sell?

“It took two seconds, no one seconds to figure out what it wanted. I think the gray suit has to be involved in this world.”

The argument is that just by making these clothes, which typically sell for hundreds and thousands of dollars, available to a wider group of users (in Meta stores the price range is $ 2.99 to $ 8.99), they are democratizing otherwise inaccessible. As a matter of fact, commercially speaking, and Meta key position seems to be NewGen equivalent to lipstick: at the end of the distribution line, almost all access barriers have been removed.

And while it is good that the tech world, which has escaped the fashion since trying to make chic clothes fall quite flat on its face, knows if it wants to play in the world of dress, best to invite the experts in. , These particular propositions seem to predict our lowest common expectations in the virtual world.

The whole point of the Mssrs fashion genre. Gvasalia et al. Creation is that it is more than a trade: it shows us who we are, or who we want to be, at specific times in a way we do not understand until we see it.

If any creative person can imagine what a pattern change looks like, you think it’s going to be them.

Mr. Browne does this occasionally at his IRL shows. He recently designed a crossover-shaped top with a large cable between the tennis ball and the turtleneck, and transformed one of the women into a toy soldier. Dr. Gvasalia took a terry-cloth bathing suit, an Ikea bag – and made it special by subverting all expectations. Do you think the leap to the metaverse would be unwise for them?

But what this “clothing” troika designed for the Meta store show looks like, for the most part, is an opportunity to showcase brand loyalty and use their storage in the most direct way possible. The implication is that users want to wear the same clothes in the digital space they do in the physical space – or at least the same clothes they wish to wear – rather than something completely new.

In an Instagram Live conversation with Eva Chen, Instagram fashion director, introducing the new store, Chen flashed a Zuckerberg logo on a different outfit and asked him about his reaction. Zuckerberg said “it takes a certain amount of confidence to put Prada on the shoulder to toe,” suggesting he’s not confident IRL, even though he may be in the metaverse.

But that is the basic misconception of fashion – and the whole idea of ​​self-expression. After all, who wears all the looks from one designer in real life? Celebrities paid by the brand in public situations, victims of fashion and modeling in magazine shoot that the brand will give clothes only if they do not mix with the work of other designers.

In an in-store Facebook post, Zuckerberg also said that Meta wants to create avatar fashion offerings because “digital merchandise will be an important way to express yourself in the metaverse and be a big driver of the creative economy.” But self-expression is not about swallowing the designer the whole look. Self-expression is about using tools that designers create to make something personal.

It’s not reassuring – it’s unthinkable – to put on a design by a designer. It only takes desire to be a vehicle of branded advertising, which is what Meta is facilitating right now. Maybe that is where some users want to go (maybe that is always imaginary), but that would not lead to the expansion of the world as we know it, but rather to more factionalization.

Especially because avatars are not cross-platform creations. So if you want virtual you wear Prada – or Balenciaga or Thom Browne – you can only do that on the Meta platform. Just like you want a virtual machine that you wear on Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren or Gucci, you have to be on Roblox.

To be fair, maybe this will change as technology changes, just as your avatar’s ability to dress may change. Now, when you choose a particular outfit in the Meta wardrobe, you have to choose all the pre-made patterns instead of being able to create a single outfit at that time. In the future, perhaps, the Balenciaga hoodie could be paired with a Prada skirt and anonymous shoes.

Zuckerberg said that at some point Meta will open stores to digital fashion-only brands and other innovations – a lineup of designers / innovators selling their wares in the DressX digital marketplace, where interpretation is a real alternative. “Clothes” can be found.

If so, your morning attire may feel less like playing with paper dolls, and more like a unique form of value signal and experimentation; It may seem like an extra thing, rather than just an imitation. But not yet.

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