Ralph Lauren Corp. is debuting its first digital fashion line in Roblox Corp.’s virtual world, becoming the latest apparel maker to try building brand awareness in the metaverse.
The company, known best for its polo shirts, is offering a “Winter Escape” experience in the Roblox online universe. Players can enjoy activities such as ice skating while shopping for retro sportswear from the designer’s 1990s collection. The items are expected to cost 125 to 300 Robux, or about $1.25 to $3.
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It’s not the first time Ralph Lauren has ventured into the metaverse, the virtual worlds where video conferencing, gaming, social media and e-commerce blend together. In August, the New York-based company launched an experience on Zepeto, a virtual world backed by South Korean internet giant Naver Corp. Since then, Ralph Lauren has amassed 1.5 million unique visitors and sold 145,000 products, according to Alice Delahunt, its chief digital and content officer.
Universes like Roblox are attractive to companies because they introduce younger users to their brands and give them a chance to see their marketing vision before graduating to real-world products. And traffic has been booming: VF Corp.’s Vans World in Roblox has had more than 50 million visits since its April launch. Nikeland, which Nike Inc. announced last month, has had more than 6 million visits.
Morgan Stanley analysts including Edward Stanley said last month that luxury NFTs, which include digital fashion, may reach 50 billion euros (about $56 billion) by 2030, with collectible items growing in popularity. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry have also been dabbling in the space.
Ralph Lauren sees the market opportunity for retailing in virtual spaces to be significant. “With the trajectory we see it growing at, we really do believe in this as a future revenue stream,” said Delahunt, adding, “NFTs are absolutely part of our future roadmap.”
In August 2020, Ralph Lauren created shoppable digital apparel for Bitmoji avatars on Snapchat which could be ordered as physical outfits on the Ralph Lauren website. There are now tens of millions of avatars wearing Ralph Lauren, Delahunt said.
Although Roblox has yet to use digital fashion to drive sales of physical merchandise, that might not be far off. And branded items are fetching premium prices on the platform: A limited edition virtual handbag from Gucci Garden that sold for around $5 in May later resold for thousands of dollars just weeks later.
Roblox reported 47.3 million daily active users in the third quarter. Players often change the appearance of their avatars, with 1 in 5 doing so daily, said Christina Wootton, Roblox’s vice president of global brand partnerships.
“I can imagine a day where players try on items in Roblox, then click on a button to get them delivered in the real world,” she said in an interview.
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