towards the mixing of physical and digital identity

Although not entirely new, the metaverse is a concept that is still in full development. It is now described as a “multiverse” made up of different virtual environments that users can explore and within which they can find their place. A new round table organized during the Met Ams, a conference recently held in Amsterdam and entirely dedicated to accessing the metaverse, recently highlighted this new event .

The panel, held on June 16, was composed of influential people in the digital fashion industry. Ashumi S, founder of digital creative agency Mad XR, Giancarlo Pazzanese, lecturer at the Amsterdam Fashion Academy, and Kerry Murphy, founder and managing director of digital fashion platform The Manufacturer, took turns presenting their vision of combining digital and physical identity in the metaverse.

The discussion quickly introduced the concept of identity in the virtual world, which was described by each of the scholars as a result of their upbringing and personal experiences in the physical world. “Real” experiences often conflict with how we – often unconsciously – want to present ourselves in the metaverse, even when users are likely to build their characters from scratch.

“The world we live in is framed by limitations, starting with the laws of physics,” said panel moderator Diego Borgo, a metaverse and non-fungible token (NFT) specialist. “What’s exciting about the metaverse and virtual reality is the ability to get out of the box, to be whoever you want to be. It can be even more exciting when you understand the opportunities it represents for fashion and digital fashion.”

“Create multiple characters”

For Giancarlo Pazzanese, the idea of ​​total freedom can also be applied to clothing. The metaverse gives creators the ability to completely re-imagine silhouettes, re-imagine how we think of a garment, and wear it beyond the limits that exist in the physical world. For panel members, there is no doubt: fashion brands should take advantage of this freedom offered by the virtual space and explore this new field of expression, especially in terms of the fluidity of identities. in virtual reality.

“It doesn’t have to be just one person, the metaverse allows a lot of different characters to be created,” said Kerry Murphy, Founder of The Fabricator. “That’s the power of the metaverse and Web3. These new toys offer tools to allow us to express ourselves in a more personal way. Hopefully, metaverse experiences will also enter our real lives, where we can be bold in finding new ways of expressing that would not be possible otherwise. “

According to Ashumi S, founder of Mad XR, children now shape their identity through role-playing that is directly inspired by their metaverse gaming experiences, helping to create their own way of expressing themselves and identity. . To this, Kerry Murphy adds, however, that children are just as faced with the weight of social constructions as adults, which often prevents them from adopting the mode they choose in the metaverse in reality. way, for example a boy wearing a dress.

“Developing a safe space”

“It’s really amazing how social constructions fit into the metaverse,” Murphy comments. “I still believe that children need to learn how to break down those barriers. This is a space where they can learn to express themselves in a more complete way than their “physical” life, but we need to make it a safe space, and not just a model of our society, at risk of development. wala ‘.

For Giancarlo Pazzanese, safety in the metaverse is now an important point, but it has always been neglected. According to the specialist, allowing our unconscious prejudices to occur there can hinder its progress. “To be free, to express ourselves and to try new things in fashion, we have to feel safe,” he said. “There’s real, invisible diversity, and that’s what creates community, when you’re recognized and accepted for things you can’t see but want to express in a way.”

To get there, the panelists highlighted the need to diversify the space itself, each noting that there is a clear lack of gender diversity and cultural inclusion in the web3 industries and metaverse. A finding that can be seen whether we can observe the often overtly sexually explicit female avatars that are in online games and made by male designers, or the slight variation in the characters and typology of digital creators , mostly men. Everyone agreed that action was needed for more diversity.

“As designers, we are responsible for the images we broadcast,” added Giancarlo Pazzanese. “The metaverse needs to be built by people with a long-term vision, not just seen as a technical challenge. It’s important to involve other designers, people who can define the values ​​of the metaverse, an environment now ruled by men, that in this case we will only breed in the same space that already exists.The metaverse is an extension of our existence and it is intended to be a better world, not the other way around.

In conclusion, if the metaverse allows great freedom and flexibility, companies should take responsibility for the images they broadcast. That’s why Giancarlo Pazzanese hopes the metaverse can be this “safe space” for those seeking to explore their identity, to deconstruct themselves and to foster a more inclusive environment.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.com. It was translated and edited into French by Maxime Der Nahabédian.

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