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The British Fashion Council and Gucci cement fashion’s place in the metaverse

The metaverse extension of The Fashion Awards 2021 takes place in a virtual Royal Albert Hall

Roblox’s versatility has made it the go-to metaverse platform for many brands looking to extend their IPs. Ahead of The Fashion Awards 2021, the platform and the British Fashion Council have partnered to create an experience based around the awards themselves, in addition to awarding the first ever Fashion Award for Metaverse Design.

Roblox has hosted virtual events before, from music festivals such as Electric Daisy to launch parties for huge entertainment properties. To date, however, it hasn’t been a venue for an award dedicated to brand extensions into the metaverse. Now, though, The Fashion Awards 2021 and Roblox have recreated the Royal Albert Hall to allow the platform’s users to experience the awards as active participants.

Visitors can walk a red carpet, explore nominees’ displays, watch awards video footage and purchase exclusive Gucci virtual items – the proceeds of which will go to charity the BFC Foundation.

Caroline Rush is chief executive of the BFC. She explains that the extension is part of an ongoing campaign to recognize the metaverse as a destination for luxury and fashion content: “As we continue to reposition The Fashion Awards as a global entertainment platform, we are so excited to announce this project with Roblox.

“By awarding the platform’s creators we are recognizing the powerful global impact of digital fashion on communities around the world and its ability to create new trends in fashion, as well as the incredible opportunities it provides for talented young creators. I was blown away by the work and creativity of all the nominees, and am looking forward to exploring The Fashion Awards experience in the metaverse.”

Christina Wootton is vice-president of global brand partnerships at Roblox. She argues that audiences on metaverse platforms are already habituated to purchasing virtual clothing. Consequently the partnership with The Fashion Awards recognizes the commercial opportunities for the fashion industry. “The next generation of designers are dressing avatars, and they are doing it on Roblox where anyone can be a creator, starting with their own digital identity. Fashion is about what’s next and finding new voices with clear visions, and this talent is emerging in the metaverse.

“This recognition from a powerful fashion institution declares loud and clear that this is the space to watch for future fashion trends and talent.”

Commercial imperatives, virtual design

It builds upon previous partnerships between Gucci and Roblox. In May the platform hosted the Gucci Garden, a recreation of a real-world installation in Florence that sought to tell the story of the brand ahead of its centenary. Like The Fashion Awards, it was designed to be an ephemeral experience in order to attract attention over a limited amount of time – and itself built upon Gucci’s launch of virtual items on Roblox in 2020. Those items were sold via a revenue share model, ensuring that both platform and brand received value from any sale of the virtual clothing.

That brands including Gucci – facilitated by the British Fashion Awards – continue to reinvest in the metaverse as both revenue stream and distribution channel indicates that there will be further crossover between the tech and fashion industries in the near future.

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