Avatars Wear Prada – New York Times

That’s right.

Last October, after Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his vision of the new Meta (old Facebook) and the wonderful future awaited in Web 3.0, he was ridiculed for his decision to do so through an avatar wearing the same outfit that Mr. Zuckerberg wears. in his daily life – this, in the world of infinite possibilities! – Meta took the problem and threw it under some sort.

“Hello, Balenciaga,” the company said alikweet“What is the dress code in this world?”

This week Balenciaga responded, along with Prada and Thom Browne, courtesy of Meta’s new avatar fashion store, which began rolling out to consumers in the United States, Canada, Thailand and Mexico. Although the social networking company had offered a variety of free (and casual) clothing for avatars used on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, this is the first time to list the designers mentioned to create individual purchase models.

And the answer is … the red hat of the Balenciaga logo.

Also some ripped jeans with a plaid shirt, a motocross jumpsuit, a black skirt suit, and low-rise jeans paired with a crop top tee and a logo short (four dresses in total). Quintessential Balenciaga seems, in other words, to anyone who has followed the brand. Just like the Thom Browne version, a faded three-piece gray suit, a fancy gray skirt suit and a short dress are a trademark uniform for Mr. Browne. And if at least one of the four Prada models – above the white tank with a triangular logo and a tiered skirt – seemed to come directly from the most recent flight path (though they, too, give the sweat of the permanent logo ).

But still, is that right?

These are the four most innovative, well-regarded fashion designers working today – Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons of Prada, and Mr. Browne – designers whose IRL clothing fights with how social and political forces shape identity in the most important matter. standards; designers whose work has tackled climate change, gender, war, capitalism, questions of value and viral celebrities. And would all (or perhaps their digital, marketing and sales teams) have come up with a time when they were given the task of imagining clothing in an unattractive space and any kind of body restraint are copies of cartoons among the well-known clothes they already sell?

Well, Mr. Browne sent an email when asked how he chose his dress, “it took me two seconds, not one second, to know what it needed to be. I thought a gray suit needed to be involved in this world.”

The argument is that by making these garments, which are usually sold for hundreds and thousands of dollars, available to a large consumer group (in a Meta store the price is $ 2.99 to $ 8.99), they are setting up an unreachable democracy. Which is true, commercially speaking, and basically puts Meta looks like NewGen similar to lipstick: the last in the distribution lines, almost all entry barriers are removed.

And while it is good that the world of technology, which has shunned fashion since the attempt to make chic clothing fell into its face, finds that if it wants to play in the fashion world, it is best to invite experts in, these specific versions seem to rely on the lowest expectations of the norm of our souls in the mail world.

The whole thing about the variety of styles Ms. Gvasalia et al. creation is that it is more than commercial: It shows us who we are, or who we want to be, at a specific time in a way that we have not even understood until we see it.

If any creative ideas were able to imagine what a change of concept might look like, you would think it would be theirs.

Mr. Browne already does this sometime in his IRL shows. He recently designed the upper part of a large cross-shaped cross with a cable between a tennis ball and a turtle, turning a woman into a toy soldier. Bw. Gvasalia picks up everyday clothes – terry bathing suits, Ikea bags – and makes them extraordinary by overturning all expectations. You would think that jumping on the metaverse would not be important to them.

Still what this “clothing” is designed for Meta store displays seems to be, for the most part, an opportunity to showcase the loyalty of products and enhance their memory in a more direct way. What this means is that consumers want to wear the same clothes in the digital space as they do in the physical space – or at least the same clothes they desire to wear – instead of brand new clothes.

In an live Instagram interview with Eva Chen, Instagram’s co-director of fashion, introducing a new store, Ms. Chen illuminated the avatar drawings of Mr. Zuckerberg in a different dress and asked him about his opinion. “It takes some courage to wear the Prada,” Mr. Zuckerberg said, suggesting that he did not have that IRL confidence, although he could have been in a worse situation.

But that is a fundamental misunderstanding of fashion – and the whole idea of ​​self-expression. After all, who wears a frame from a single ostrich in real life? Celebrities who are paid by the brand in public, fashion victims and models in magazine photography where the brand will lend clothes only if they are not mixed with the work of other designers.

In a Facebook post on the store, Mr. Zuckerberg also said that Meta wanted to create an avatar-style version because “digital products will be an important way to express themselves in the worst situations and the biggest catalyst for a creative economy.” But the expression is not about swallowing the designer looking whole. Expression is about using the tools that designers create to make something personal.

It does not require self-confidence – not even thinking – to wear a look that is perfectly ordered by the designer. It only takes the desire to be a brand car, which is what Meta currently enables. Maybe that’s where other users want to go (maybe that’s always been a dream), but that won’t lead to the expansion of the world as we know it, but instead further privatization.

Especially because avatars are not creative cross-platform platforms. So if you want to wear it online wear Prada – or Balenciaga or Thom Browne – you can do it on Meta systems only. Just as you would want an online photo to wear with Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren or Gucci, you must be on Roblox.

To be fair, maybe this will change as technology changes, just as your ability to wear your avatar may change. Right now, when choosing any type of clothing in the Meta Wardrobe, you will have to choose the whole look of the preparation rather than being able to create with one garment at a time. In the future, perhaps, the Balenciaga hoodie could be paired with a Prada skirt and a pair of nameless shoes.

Bw. Zuckerberg has stated that at some point Meta will open a store for only digital fashion brands and other new designers – the kind of designers / innovators who are already selling their products in the DressX digital marketplace, where there are many alternative interpretations. of “clothes” can be found.

If so, wearing your avatar in the morning can feel a bit like playing with paper dolls, and as a unique kind of symbolism and experimentation; it can be seen as an accessory, rather than just an imitation. But still.

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