In case you missed the news last week, Meta announced it’s going to open up a digital clothing store where you can purchase outfits for your avatars. Dubbed the “Meta Avatars Store,” this virtual retail space will sell items from fashion brands like Balenciaga, Prada, and Thom Browne for between $2.99 to $8.99. These outfit options are in addition to the free clothing available to Meta avatars. The rollout is set to take place this week.
Competitor Snap has been offering extensive avatar customizations for years. Since Snap acquired Bitmoji in 2016, it has collaborated with Ralph Lauren, Converse, Nike, Crocs, Levis, American Eagle, Off White, Vans, and more to offer branded outfits.
Meta’s push towards digital fashion is a signal that the direct-to-avatar economy is here to stay. Pioneered by gaming, direct-to-avatar (D2A) is an emerging business model where brands and creators can sell their products directly to a person’s virtual avatar. Ecosystems like Roblox and Fortnite are examples of the D2A economy at work. Notably, digital wearables or skins can have in-game value like added protection or capabilities, but other times these items are just for looks. Much like the fashion we wear in real life, they signal status or belonging and enable self-expression.
Meta’s push to make avatars as fun (and as profitable) as possible is another move in the company’s efforts to maintain a monopoly on your digital identity beyond Web 2. With avatars, the company could get information such as brand and style preferences, which would be valuable information for advertisers.
For fashion companies, the Meta Avatars Store could be an interesting marketing strategy to introduce new audiences to your brand. It could also be used as a testing ground for new designs before they’re produced in real life. However, when we’re looking at digital fashion as a category, Meta’s avatars seem worlds behind Snap or other platforms like DressX.