Metajuku Mall plays with digital portable devices with virtual stores – WWD

Real estate developer and investment platform Metaverse Republic Realm has launched Metajuku, a shopping district in Metaverse Decentraland.

As the name suggests, Metajuku is a riff on Tokyo’s Harajuku shopping district, which is widely hailed for its street fashion. The 16,000 square foot Metajuku is an atrium with an open center and two digital-only key tenants, Dress-X and Tribute Brand. Digital clothing can be purchased for a range of clothing. The shopping district is located at coordinates 94, 21 in Decentraland, a decentralized virtual social platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain.

Austin-based Martin Guerra designed the development, and the real estate and 3D game developers of Republic Realm brought it to life. The virtual shopping experience was designed for Web 3.0 and features weightlessness effects. To change up the look of digital clothing, clothing from the Dress-X store, for example, floats in orbs in the air. The company was founded by Daria Shapovalova.

The Tribute Brand store was designed by the BIRO architectural firm from Zagreb.

In an interview on Monday, Republic Realm chief executive Janine Yorio spoke about how the company buys and develops digital real estate. “One of the most logical use cases for virtual real estate is retail. People are already so used to buying things online from a 2D website. Today, a whole generation of people have gotten used to doing things in a 3D world. There is a really exciting opportunity for consumer products to build immersive 3D retail stores in these virtual worlds. “

About 24 more brands are expected to join Metajuku in the next three to six months, Yorio said. When it comes to time invested, companies either outsource store design and planning or manage it in-house. Republic Realm can manage the development of the software, as designer and developer. Marketing is another major expense for businesses, and the investment here is hundreds of thousands of dollars, not millions of dollars.

Typically, companies carry a lot less merchandise than in a typical store, because the render quality in the metaverse “isn’t that hot.” It still looks like a video game – a little cartoonish, ”Yorio said. “Retailers choose to showcase half a dozen items. What’s interesting is how they display it. There is no gravity. We don’t need to put it on a hanger or hang it on a mannequin.

At this point, Metajuku offers people the opportunity to explore brands and ‘maybe migrate offline to products to see their full range of offerings in a different format, whether it’s in their actual word store or on. their traditional website, ”Yorio said.

While the digital clothing market is still in its infancy and the rules are still being written, gamers have spent over $ 40 million on clothing in Fortnite. Many young people already spend a large part of their lives online in a 3D environment, whether through Minecraft, Fortnite or Roblox, Yorio said. She compared the reluctance of older consumers to do so to how 20 years of online shopping was not initially embraced. “The great thing about these mod stores is that you don’t have to worry about things like gravity or staffing. In the real world, you have to hire an architect and the materials cost different amounts of money depending on how much they cost. Building a Louis Vuitton or Gucci store is out of reach for most retailers. In the virtual world, that’s not true… you can have small businesses that could never afford a flashy department store in Soho. But they can create a store in the Metaverse to sell to anyone in the world with an internet connection. They can afford to be a little avant-garde and push the boundaries of design.

Republic Realm is for “really big brands that are moving very slowly” and small brands that are start-ups, that understand the metaverse and that are crypto-native, Yorio said.

Along with the explosion in the growth of NFTs over the past year, a generation of young people have spent their lives in the past 16 months online without seeing their friends in person. Spending time on Zoom or playing video games has changed the idea of ​​what you wear, Yorio said. Gravitating toward a personal and professional virtual existence has turned ideas that might previously seem silly, like wearing a virtual shirt to a virtual meeting, upside down, Yorio notes. And children are very aware of what their avatars are wearing, she added. “It’s as important to them as what they wear in the real world. And things like really hip, completely pixelated digital sneakers sell for thousands of dollars. “

One of the tenants of Metajuku, Tribute Brand collaborates with Jean Paul Gaultier x Sacai for their couture show in Paris. This level of digital clothing comes at a steep price, just as it would be in actual couture clothing. Another example of more expensive items is RTFKT’s virtual sneakers that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But virtual shirts can sell for between $ 30 and $ 1,000, Yorio said.

As well as offering sustainable options for fashion that don’t require dry cleaning, “the whole appeal of digital fashion is that it should be much cheaper to manufacture than real traditional fashion, so prices don’t. should not look alike. A big part of what you pay for now is for the fact that it’s so new. But it doesn’t have to be. The marginal cost of a digital dress is virtually zero, ”she said.

Just as H&M and Zara have reached the masses with fast fashion, digital fashion can offer affordable and environmentally friendly options to those around the world who have limited purchasing options. If consumers could buy a virtual dress for a dollar, it would give them “a way to post to Instagram in a beautiful dress or enter the metaverse and show their friends their fashion sense and ability to choose as if they had just come off the track. “Yorio said.” This is what women everywhere want and what a lot of men want too. This human desire to be beautiful and trendy is pervasive, but access is limited to a few key urban markets and to people who have a lot of money. “

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Peggy P. Gilmore