Glitches, Glamour, and Graphics Cards: Notes From Decentraland’s First Metaverse Fashion Week

Linda D. Garrow

The most impressive part of Decentraland’s first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week didn’t actually happen in the metaverse. Instead it went down on a platform which, while super old-fashioned and not especially cool, still features a pretty evolved UI: reality.

By the time the four-day event had shuttered its virtual schedule last night, Decentraland had scored a roster of real-world fashion exhibitors that most first-time fashion events hosted in untested markets could only ever dream of. Etro, Tommy Hilfiger, Perry Ellis, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Hogan, Dundas, Imitation of Christ, Nicholas Kirkwood and beauty behemoth Estée Lauder had all staked out claims to Decentraland’s emerging territory. Even hype-ier, real-world media outlets across fashion (including Vogue, of course) and tech had covered the event—or at least covered the press releases related to the event—while even the UK’s pre-eminent tabloid, The Sun, sent a reporter.

So what was the digital event that generated that real-world interest and hype really like? Well, the first thing to say is that if you are going to get into Decentraland, your hardware is way more important than your wearables. As my Vogue Business colleague Maghan McDowell confirmed as we WhatsApped during the shows, the experience was often frustratingly glitchy and lag-heavy. Lots of the user comments that ran alongside my clumsy rambles through the platform’s fashion zones backed this up. Almost certainly, however, this was less down to Decentraland’s failings than ours: basically you need one of those weird-looking Battlestar Galactica-styled gaming PC’s with a monstrous graphics card to get the best out of the metaverse.

That aside, the experience was diverting. Connecting a wallet and setting up an avatar was easy enough. I tried to be as realistic as possible, kitting myself as a white-haired, fully bearded male with a questionable dress sense: my looks were straight off the Decentraland starter menu and ran from a skull tank top and skirt combo to a pair of red dungaree shorts that were popular amongst newbs like me. Decentraland did not offer the option to alter your avatar’s body-shape. While actually pretty true to real-life sample size culture, this was a little disappointing.

After a pre-show trial session spent exploring Decentraland’s ‘Luxury Fashion District’—maybe it was too early, but the only fashion space I teleported to was an empty DKNY store—I had got to grips with the general vibe, plus communed with a giant penguin. Because I’ve got kids I’ve spent a long time on Roblox and Minecraft: there was lots to recognize here.

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