As the Chinaverse builds out, Chinese lifestyle sharing platform Xiaohongshu is emerging as an interesting case study. Its contribution to the metaverse is a digital art platform called “R-Space,” which features dozens of digital collections by domestic artists, lifestyle social influencers, and in-house designers.
In China, the NFT landscape is complicated. As digital tokens can’t be traded, other areas are opening up; some IT companies have started focusing on video game NFTs, while others have built virtual idols for quick commercial benefits. And because the sector is still at an early stage, there’s no set regulation shaping the industry’s formation.
Xiaohongshu’s move into the metaverse in November 2021 put it ahead of competitors, such as famous Gen-Z video site Bilibili.com — which jumped in earlier this year — and e-commerce giant JD.com, which launched in December 2021. Xiaohongshu’s diverse digital repository allows it, as well as local names, to engage with a lucrative younger generation of shoppers. At the same time, R-Space also helps the platform to integrate tech with fashion beyond its recommendations-based interface. According to Kirin Lee, Head of R-Space at Xiaohongshu, the app’s long-term NFT strategy will center around luxury brands, streetwear, and virtual fashion.
So far, so intriguing. Here, Jing Daily analyzes the platform’s entry into the world of digital fashion.
Expanded technology development
Through R-Space, Xiaohongshu hopes to expand its influence on lifestyle and fashion by making its designs gamified and interactive. Most Xiaohongshu NFT collectibles have their “physical twin” for sale on the platform, meaning customers can buy the tangible versions of their digital collectibles and show them off offline. Therefore, R-Space offers the perfect space for users to flaunt their fashion collectibles, which in turn creates content for their accounts.
As part of its digital fashion strategy, the app updated its “3D body mesh” and clothing simulation technologies to make R-Space’s digital clothing hyper-realistic (they use a digital pattern and a set of fabric values, such as stretch, weight, etc., to create a digital sample of the garment to drape on a 3D virtual fit model). R-Space users can also try on digital clothing in real-time due to the company’s use of body segmentation, tracking, and pose estimation technologies (basically, a computer vision technique that predicts and tracks the location of a person or object).
Xiaohongshu’s Lee explained that R-SPACE aims to create a sustainable business model. This includes “improv[ing] IP monetization via NFT by establishing this creative, well-paying, and fashion-oriented platform. Creators can earn money via the auctions, and fans can find what they want to buy at a reasonable price.”
A creator’s community
Given its convenient location in China’s fashion capital — Shanghai — the platform is also tapping into its surroundings. R-Space previously collaborated on a series of digital fashion exhibitions in Xintiandi (one of Shanghai Fashion Week’s main venues) and released 18 limited edition virtual fashion pieces by nine domestic brands, including Chen Peng, Masha Ma, and Annakiki. Although feedback was mixed, the drop sold over 3,000 virtual fashion items ranging from $200 to $600.
Another brand to find results on the platform is AMAZ!NG PANDA. This Shanghai-based lifestyle IP featuring colorful, street style has found success by co-branding products with designers. On its experimental NFT series, founder Amy Fan said: “NFTs are a strong connecting point for this community, especially for Gen-Z. In the future I believe they will be a crucial channel for IPs like us to play on the ground.”
In many ways, Xiaohongshu has always been a virtual community. NFTs are only a logical next step. Many of the platform’s creators are students, artists, and designers. For Lee, they are influencers with quality content output. “They have their solid fan bases and these fans are eager to buy those digital works. They are open to new tech, and their purchasing power is strong.”