The structure of this project is similar to other brand appearances that mimic physical experiences in the virtual realm. One of the first key examples was Gucci Garden on Roblox, a two-week pop-up last year that expanded on the brand’s physical installation in Milan, with perks that wouldn’t be possible physically, such as avatar appearances that change to reflect their movements in space.
A number of brands that have opened standalone virtual stores have gone on to host an array of metaverse activations. Tommy Hilfiger is holding a “phygital” New York Fashion Week show in September. Among other endeavours, Ralph Lauren launched a holiday-themed digital clothing collection on Roblox, where Burberry has also sold digital-only bags. Burberry has also partnered with games including Blankos Block Party.
Brands face a choice when opening a virtual experience: when they create a standalone space, they can better control the look and feel, including various commerce elements and access to visitor data. Building something within an existing world, such as Roblox, Zepeto, Decentraland or Fortnite, offers an existing audience, but can include compromises on functionality and appearance.
Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer at consultancy Journey, points to the necessity of having an audience that will visit the site to experience it — particularly for a brand that doesn’t have a preexisting metaverse presence. However, she adds that there is value in making the brand website experience more engaging and immersive, particularly if catering to consumers inclined to purchase via the site.
Catering to an existing consumer base was, in fact, part of the rationale for Kate Spade. “We wanted to make sure our existing community of brand fans could engage with it first,” Campbell says. That said, she’s curious to see the consumer profile of visitors, which will dictate which metaverse platforms make sense to partner with to expand and scale in the future.