Beauty brands now sell real products in Roblox. Will luxury follow?

    E.L.F. Cosmetics and Roblox redefine the online shopping experience, Syky unveils new digital fashion drop, and Rtfkt's latest sneaker development falls flat.
    E.L.F. Cosmetics' virtual Roblox destination is a hit among Gen Alpha. Image: Roblox

    As luxury brands take a break from their digital roadmaps, Web3-native labels are pushing ahead to keep up the momentum. This week, for example, Syky dropped the second release from its monthly Syky drops series; this time tapping 3D artist and hot collaborator Marc Tudisco.

    Virtual fashion platform Rtfkt is also creeping back into the spotlight with its most recent personalization tool for sneakers. In a video released earlier this week, the Nike-acquired brand teased a new add-on feature that allows wearers to customize the front of their shoes. But not everyone is convinced by its utility.

    In other news this week, E.L.F. Cosmetics has begun selling its real world products in Roblox, allowing players to purchase their favorite items from an in-game virtual kiosk as opposed to its online e-commerce site. The development marks a watershed moment for the beauty industry in the digital world, but will luxury brands follow its lead?

    E.l.f Cosmetics is now selling its physical products via a virtual kiosk in Roblox. Image: Roblox
    E.l.f Cosmetics is now selling its physical products via a virtual kiosk in Roblox. Image: Roblox

    E.L.F Cosmetics and Roblox gamify the online shopping experience#

    What happened: E.L.F. Cosmetics is testing selling real world products on Roblox. As part of the brand's extensive Roblox playbook, which kicked off last year with its 'E.L.F. Up!' experience, players over 13 can now purchase items including a hoodie, sunscreen, lip balm, and lip oil via a Walmart-powered virtual kiosk within the E.L.F. Up! experience on Roblox. Customers will also be granted a virtual twin of their purchase, which they can use within Roblox.

    The verdict: The expansion takes E.L.F. Cosmetics into e-commerce territory on Roblox, a strategy that many brands are shifting towards as the platform fleshes out its capabilities. It also marks the first time a beauty brand has ever sold physical products to gamers within the channel.

    E.L.F. Cosmetics' stellar Roblox playbook is a lesson for brands looking to engage with the ultra-online native demographic of Gen Alpha. According to Geeiq, the brand's "E.L.F. Up!" experience has ammassed over 13 million visits since launching last November. As e-commerce faces its own challenges, caused by outdated infrastructure and dwindling consumer loyalty, Roblox's entry into the space points towards a more engaging and interactive future for online shopping.

    Syky has teamed up with a new digital artist for its second Syky Drops release. Image: Syky
    Syky has teamed up with a new digital artist for its second Syky Drops release. Image: Syky

    Syky unveils 2nd release from Syky Drops series#

    What happened: Digital fashion platform Syky has dropped the second edition of its monthly Syky Drops series. Curated by Syky artistic director Nicola Formichetti, this initiative aims to spotlight Web3’s growing pool of digital designers. The latest release was created in partnership with artist Marc Tudisco.

    Available for purchase starting July 5, the capsule collection features two pieces centered around post-human aesthetics. The first piece, coined Parasite, features an inflated, oversized full-body fit crafted in chrome. The second piece, Stud, plays with body modification and punk aesthetics through masses of sharp metallic jewelry puncturing the face, neck, eyes, and teeth.

    The verdict: An artist who has previously worked with Mugler, BMW, Sephora, SupremeNYC, and Nike, Tudisco is recognized in the fashion space for his bizarre, meticulously detailed 3D and motion work. Inspired by real life and surrealism, his creations are infused with dark humor.

    Leading the digital fashion vanguard, Syky’s foundations have been built on championing diverse subcultures and embracing the avant-garde through the virtual lens. The platform joins a growing band of Web3-natives, such as avatar studio Colonii, that are using their digital skills to diversify and enrich the online terrain.

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    Rtfkt's new personalization feature divides consumers#

    What happened: Virtual fashion platform Rtfkt has teased a new development that allows wearers of the brand’s sneakers to customize the front of their shoes. In a video posted on the label's official Instagram page earlier this week, a user can be seen tapping their phone onto a new accessory – which slots onto the front of the sneaker’s tongue and features a small screen – to personalize the appearance of their shoes.

    The verdict: As a trailblazer in the sneaker space, Rtfkt is no stranger to stretching the limits of what can be applied to footwear; take the brand’s "self-lacing" shoe as an example. But the response to the brand’s latest development has been mixed. While proponents have praised Rtfkt for remaining at the fore of design innovation, cynics have questioned the long-term utility of the feature and its environmental impact (at first glance, the accessory looks to be crafted from plastic materials).

    The tepid response shines a light on a bigger challenge in footwear today: How far can brands take sneaker innovation before it tips into gimmickry?

    Meta Bites#

    • AR fashion facilitator Zero10 has introduced new footwear try-on capabilities to its AR-mirrors. The mirrors, which have been a hit among the likes of Coach, JD, and Tommy Hilfiger, will now allow customers to interact with virtual 3D versions of shoes to see how they will look before purchasing. The company has also launched a “pants over shoes” feature, allowing virtual shoes to be placed under real pants exactly as they would in reality, to make the experience even more realistic.
    • Sticking with footwear VTO, Versace has teamed up with Snap to harness the app’s try-on filter for its new Mercury sneaker collection. Users can test out the sneaker virtually before trying using Snap’s Lens tool, as well as unlock a virtual pair for their Bitmoji avatar and discover 12 other exclusive wearables from the house of Versace.
    • Nascar has unveiled a first-of-its-kind experience on Fortnite to take the motorsports competition to the digital world. The activation, which launched on July 2, lets players race on a custom-built Chicago Street Course map, ahead of the real world event taking place July 6 to 7. The experience was developed in partnership with the UK metaverse studio Karta.
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