Metaverse Fashion Week Coming to Milan’s Piazza del Duomo With Hybrid AR-IRL Runway Show

Augmented reality metaverse Over is planning a fashion and tech takeover of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan on March 31, with a hybrid fashion show and other events on the closing day of Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week, the company announced early Saturday morning. Over, also known as OVR, is one of the cohosts of MVFW.

With support from the Municipality of Milan, the event will take place IRL as a featured attraction of MVFW with brands spanning emerging and established fashion companies, including Pinko, Balmain x Space Runners’ Unicorn NFT collection, The Pet Liger Ribbon Loafers as part of the Gucci Vault Art Space, Ilona Song x Vogue Singapore, Ecoolska and XR Couture, with many participating in talks, presentations or the hybrid runway show.

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Attendees will be able to watch as an avatar wearing the latest digital looks bounds down the physical catwalk by simply lifting their smartphones and viewing the action on their screens.

A crucial part of making that work is that the virtual fashions, as digital assets, are geo-located to the space, said Over’s David Carr, head of partnerships.

“The Over metaverse is, at its foundational level, this digital layer that has been mapped over the physical earth. And we’ve got over a trillion hexagons, which represent parcels of digital land,” he told WWD. “Now, what Over has done is to take over the land that sits above, the layer that sits over the Piazza, and they have programmed or geo-located the content to that map of that parcel of land on the Over platform.”

The approach will feel familiar to anyone who ever played an AR game on their phone, such as Pokémon Go or Ingress, which layers digital objects over the camera’s view of the physical world as if they were tangibly present.

“When you activate the app through an iPad or a smartphone, you can see the content as it’s been localized to the space,” continued Carr. “So wherever you’re standing in the Piazza — if you’re standing up on the terrace where the invited guests will be standing — they will see the content move from left to right. Somebody standing across the other side of the piazza would see the content moving from right to left.”

The AR metaverse fashion show, as a tech spectacle, will surely grab attention, but Over is also packing other elements into the agenda, including a keynote address by Marco Ruffa, Pinko’s digital transformation director, a featured AR experience by Bored Apes and CryptoPunks and a panel talk with speakers from Marangoni, Municipality of Milan, Polygon and PwC Italy.

“Fashion was among the first industries to recognize the incredible potential of the metaverse and Web 3.0,” said Davide Cuttini, Over’s chief executive officer and cofounder. “This is because of the many avenues that these domains open up for fashion, from design to retail. Over extends this horizon further by uniquely merging the virtual and physical worlds using augmented reality.

“Together, these present a massive opportunity for brands, designers and retailers to reach consumers, anytime and anywhere.”

Over is also organizing a cross-metaverse creator contest, for fashion designers creating avatar wearables that work in both Over and Decentraland.

It’s all part of MVFW 2023’s main theme of “Future Heritage.” The umbrella concept juxtaposes tradition and innovation, physical and digital, uniqueness and interoperability, with a focus on digital-physical crossovers and cross-metaverse efforts.

While critics have been pointing out all the ways the metaverse seems to be on the wane, at least as a cultural phenomenon, the technology and approaches are still evolving. One way forward is to focus on augmented reality, and AR was always mentioned as part of the metaverse, even if there were few concrete examples of how it would connect to the virtual world. In that light, Over, as an immersive, decentralized platform with an AR spin, looks like a step in a productive direction and adds intriguing new scenarios.

At the very least, it allows the partners — Decentraland, Over and Spatial, the third MVFW cohost — to bring something new to the public. The trio are out to top last year, when enthusiasm ran high and the event attracted 108,000 guests and channeled 165,000 wearables. Those aren’t huge figures, but it may be challenging to beat them nonetheless, as enthusiasm wanes.

Their stated goal now, according to the announcement, is to “translate the multivenue experience of fashion month into the virtual realm,” according to the announcement, and that includes AR projects. But is that enough to reinvigorate interest in all things metaverse? That should become evident next week.

Metaverse Fashion Week gets underway on Tuesday.

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