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The Opportunity in Digital Fashion and Avatars

BoF's guide to digital assets in fashion, examining the metaverse and underlying technological, social and consumer shifts, plus our playbook for companies to explore this new frontier.

We are entering an era in which social interactions and commercial transactions increasingly take place in virtual worlds, enabled by technological advancements and social shifts long in the making.

Today, companies are grappling with the existential implications of this evolution. Digital assets have existed for years, but engagement now seems to be at an inflection point, especially as NFTs — which prove authenticity and ownership and drive scarcity — could increase the utility and value of digital assets.

Are we at the precipice of a new digital frontier? Or are we facing a frenzy of hype, amplified by time spent at home during the pandemic?

BoF Insights believes companies in fashion and retail would be well-advised to understand the shifts taking place, in particular in consumer behaviour and purchase motivations. For an industry slow to adapt to platform shifts like e-commerce, some fashion companies are already taking note, with brands from mass to luxury experimenting with collaborations and activations and digital-first entrants rapidly emerging.

In The Opportunity in Digital Fashion and Avatars report, BoF Insights — a new data and analysis think tank from The Business of Fashion — offers its perspective on the staying power of digital assets: what consumers believe about digital identity and ownership, why they purchase digital assets and how companies should engage over the short, medium and long term.

Publication Date: November 2021
Length: 107 pages
File Format: PDF

Table of Contents

  • Understanding Current Momentum:
    • NFTs
    • Gaming
  • Timeline of Fashion Activity
  • Case Study: Platform Shifts in Fashion
  • Detailed Breakdown of Underlying Technological and Social Shifts
  • Our Perspective Regarding the Metaverse
  • Timeline of Gaming Collaborations
  • Case Study: Fortnite, Roblox
  • Case Study: The Hundreds
  • Survey Insights (Representative Sample of US General Consumers, US HNWI Panel, Global Virtual Fashion Panel):
    • Time Spent in Virtual Worlds By Activity
      • Digital Games
      • AR Filters
      • VR Headsets
      • Online Worlds
    • Motivations to Participate in Virtual Worlds
    • Perceptions about Digital Identity
    • Valuing Digital Fashion versus Digital Avatars
    • Perceptions about Digital Ownership
  • Survey Insights (Representative Sample of US General Consumers, US HNWI Panel, Global Virtual Fashion Panel):
    • Familiarity with Digital Assets
      • Digital Skins/Costumes/Items
      • Virtual Fashion
      • Digital Avatars
      • NFTs
    • Prevalence of Purchasing Digital Assets
    • Motivations to Purchase Digital Assets
    • Interest in Different Categories of Virtual Fashion
    • Relationship Between Digital Consumption versus Physical Consumption
    • Preferences to Purchase Virtual Fashion from Different Types of Brands:
      • Physical-First versus Digital-First
      • Luxury versus Mass
  • BoF Community Survey on Company Engagement with Digital Assets
  • Overall Framework for Engaging with Digital Assets
  • Specific Considerations in Partnering with Gaming Publishers
  • Case Study: Gucci x Wanna
  • Case Study: RTFKT x Fewocious
  • Case Study: Balenciaga x Fortnite and Vans x Roblox
  • Case Study: Burberry x Blankos Block Party

Why Buy this Report

  • Offers a comprehensive overview of digital assets in fashion — including items in gaming, fashion, avatars and NFTs — that deepens the knowledge of all current or would-be industry participants
  • Identifies the underlying technological and social shifts driving interest in digital assets and examines the durability of these shifts
  • Analyses in-depth consumer insights measuring familiarity with, perceptions of and behaviours associated with digital assets broadly and digital fashion and avatars specifically
  • Provides a playbook that outlines how brands can tactically develop their data-driven digital asset strategies, including where and how to experiment within these new environments

The report is based on proprietary research inputs, including:

  • 30 interviews with founders, CEOs, senior executives and investors across the following domains:
    • Gaming
    • Digital-first brands, retailers and marketplaces
    • Physical-first fashion and luxury companies
  • Four proprietary surveys:
    • Demographically balanced US General Consumer survey of Gen-Z to Gen-X, facilitated by Altiant on behalf of BoF
    • Altiant LuxuryOpinions® panel of US High-Net-Worth Individuals (each with a minimum of $1 million in investable assets) conducted on behalf of BoF
    • Global Virtual Fashion panel fielded by BoF across the communities of DressX and The Fabricant
    • Senior executive survey in BoF’s global community of fashion professionals
  • Companies and collaborations covered in the report include Altava, The Aura Blockchain Consortium, Auroboros, Balenciaga, Betaworks Ventures, Boson Protocol, Burberry, Digitalax, The Dematerialised, DressX, Epic Games (Fortnite), The Fabricant, Genies, Gucci, The Hundreds, Improbable, Louis Vuitton, Mythical Games (Blankos Block Party), OpenSea, Palm NFT Studio, Poplar Studio, Ralph Lauren, Retail Prophet, Riot Games (League of Legends), RTFKT, Roblox, Straiqr.ai, Substance, Truesy, Vans and Wanna


Powered by a new data and analysis team at The Business of Fashion, BoF Insights arms business leaders with the proprietary and data-driven research they need to make better decisions.

No, BoF Insights is a separate offering to the content made available to you as part of your BoF Professional membership and therefore must be purchased separately. Powered by a new data and analysis team at The Business of Fashion, BoF Insights arm business leaders with proprietary and data-driven research to navigate the fast-changing global fashion industry.

Yes, if you require assistance with your purchase, please contact insights@businessoffashion.com, and a member of the BoF Insights team will be able to assist you.

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