What Happened: On August 5, Italian luxury fashion house Prada livestreamed its repeat Fall 2022 collection within the interactive realms of “Meta Ziwu” a virtual space in Baidu’s metaverse social app XiRang. The IRL event was hosted at Prince Jun’s Mansion Hotel which was then aired via XiRang in a futuristic simulation. Open to a global audience, users worldwide could transport directly to the live showcase by simply logging into Baidu XiRang, waving goodbye to the spatial constraints between the physical and virtual.
The Jing Take: The leading luxury player hasn’t been hesitant with its move into the metaverse (its Timecapsule initiative, a monthly release of NFT drops which celebrates circular fashion, has been ongoing since June) solidifying its stance as one of the pioneers in the luxury sector. But this is the first time the label has made the decision to exhibit one of its IRL runways via the world of Web3, making it one of Prada’s largest — and most ambitious — events this year.
But why now? Prada has displayed promising signs of recovery across China, with strong revenue and profit gains in the first six months of 2022. The acceleration of its Web3 roadmap could see the brand continue through the second half with similar levels of success. Taking part in ventures like XiRang’s not only demonstrates the house’s openness to new concepts, but also its efforts at keeping one finger on the pulse of shifting shopper strategies. More consumers across the mainland are onboarding to the metaverse. With this in mind, it makes sense for the brand to follow suit in order to find ways of attracting their audience and remain culturally relevant.
Technological advancements across the Chinaverse are also encouraging more companies to integrate virtual experiences into their models. Only recently, Dior released its digital Valentine’s project via WeChat for the Qixi holiday, not to mention being the first to utilize Meta Ziwu with its “On The Road” showcase back in April.
However, barriers preventing a total meta-breakthrough across the country remain in place. The landscape remains a boiling pot of instability and uncertain consequences, with restrictions and regulations as blurred as ever — last month the market witnessed tech giant Tencent close down its digital collectibles platform due to unfavorable government policies. Ventures like Prada’s may seem resplendent in the moment, but to avoid falling into the hands of China’s ongoing virtual minefield, brands should proceed with caution.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.