The online metaverse and the IMVU social networking site grew 44 percent during the pandemic; it now attracts 7 million monthly active users, most of whom are female or female and between the ages of 18 and 24. If you’re not one of those millions, here’s an introduction: on IMVU, users create personal avatars and dress them in clothes designed by other users – designers, in the language of the site – purchased with credits paid for with real money. The whole point of IMVU is to connect with friends virtually and potentially create new ones, but shopping is not a small part of the site’s appeal. IMVU’s virtual store features 50 million items made by more than 200,000 designers. Fourteen billion credits, or $ 14 million, carry out more than 27 million transactions each month. “I shop therefore I am”, as Barbara Kruger said in her famous work from 1990, takes on a new resonance in this digital world.
“Fashion is at the epicenter of why people create avatars and connect with others on IMVU,” says Lindsay Anne Aamodt, senior director of marketing for the site. “Part of that is because dressing an avatar in a digital space gives people access to whatever they want to look like, and it’s hard to do that in the real world.” On the night of the 2019 Met Gala, for example, there were virtual versions of the campy red carpet of celebrities watching IMVU before the cameras stopped flashing. “Anytime there’s something big in pop culture or there’s a trend in fashion, it’s immediately on IMVU,” Aamodt confirms. Users organize their own fashion shows, create virtual model agencies and hold awards ceremonies. When the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic started bringing musicians to digital platforms like IMVU, where they could create videos in the absence of real-world productions, Aamodt had his brain.
Now she’s running a first virtual fashion show on IMVU that brings together brands from the real world. the hill road, Gypsy sport, Mowalola, Freak City, Bruce Glen, My Mum Made It and Mimi Wade with expert designers who know the 3D mesh and texturing process that brings IMVU clothing and accessories to life. The show will air on May 27, after which IMVU users will be able to purchase and dress their avatars in the designer looks they saw on the virtual runway.
The see-now, buy-now component makes it different from the Animal crossing fashion show held in May last year, when stop orders made live events impossible. The same goes for the level of 3D avatars of IMVU. “It goes way beyond putting a logo on a digital t-shirt or ‘pixel pants’,” says Aamodt. “I really want to see two things happen: I want to see people looking at fashion with a different lens – not just putting a dress on their avatar, but looking at the offer from Collina Strada or Mowalola and being a lot more creative on that expression. . And I also want to let real-world brands know that the metaverse is a place of mass audience, where there is a real opportunity for brand integration, brand expansion and brand expression. She continues, “It’s one thing to see an ad over and over again. It’s one thing to make an Instagram Live. But it’s another thing to have access to a brand before investing in it in the real world, and this kind of accessibility will only increase the reach of those brands. “
The designers of the IMVU range aren’t necessarily tech leaders, but they are all rule breakers in one way or another. As a sustainability advocate, Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour was ready to try her hand at virtual clothing. “There is a way to create a more educational model or an expressive model, rather than just a product model,” Taymour said. Vogue when, with help from Gucci, she produced a video game for pre-fall 21 where the mission tackled climate change. On IMVU, Taymour’s avatars will be wearing virtual versions of clothes she sells IRL, as well as more fantastic outfits. “I’m not that connected to digital media – in my spare time I want to go and lie on a rock by a stream – but I think it’s a way of creating things,” she says. “I’m such a small brand, I don’t have the team to do everything I want to do.” Mowalola Ogunlesi, born in Nigeria and based in London, who runs an eponymous line and works with Kanye West on his new business Yeezy Gap, emphasizes the accessibility of IMVU. “I liked the idea of doing something digitally because I’ve never done it before,” she says. “It was the idea that it could be anything, and that people could have it right away, everywhere, rather than having to wait for production, for stores.”
Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe takes an interest in real-world representation and the virtual. His last IRL track was a celebration of his Chicano heritage; on IMVU, his avatars will be modeled after his muses and other people he’s worked with, only with alien blue and green skin and otherworldly characteristics. “It’s going to start in New York, and they’re going to transport themselves to the Gypsy universe, which is a metaphysical world where all bodies are fit and fashion is hardly necessary, because we prefer to be naked, but it’s a cool way to express yourself, ”he says. “I was inspired by the idea that we get to present Gypsy Sport to people, which is why we are repeating the looks from last season, but giving them a bigger than life touch at the Met Gala,” adds. he does. “Maybe one of these pieces can be shown at the Met someday.”