How a Creative Agency Is Helping Luxury Brands to Understand the Metaverse

·5 min read

PARIS — Patrizio Miceli, head of creative agency Al Dente, has spent the last year helping luxury brands prepare for the Web3 revolution. Metaverse, NFTs, cryptocurrencies and gaming are the new buzzwords feeding the conversation, but he quickly realized that not everyone understands the language.

Al Dente’s solution was to develop “The Serious Game,” which allows firms to familiarize their employees with the next iteration of the internet and identify communities of Web3 enthusiasts within their ranks. “Because the only way to understand this space is to experience it,” Miceli explained.

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The first to offer the game on social platform Discord was French luxury group Kering, the owner of brands including Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta.

“They thought 300 people would sign up. They ended up with 2,000 participants,” Miceli said. “We’re in a ‘test and learn’ phase with some brands on very sophisticated ideas. But we realized the first priority today is to help luxury groups understand the subject in-depth, so they can exchange between services and work off the same knowledge base to move forward.”

A Snowy Owl NFT from Al Dente’s “The Serious Game.” - Credit: Courtesy of Kering
A Snowy Owl NFT from Al Dente’s “The Serious Game.” - Credit: Courtesy of Kering

Courtesy of Kering

Al Dente aims to further rally the luxury community around the metaverse with its own line of NFTs, developed with Dazed fashion director Imruh Asha, launching next fall.

“‘The New Face’ aims to create the first meta-luxury community made up of executives and designers from the worlds of fashion, luxury and Web3. Access will initially be through referrals to enable creative and prolific interactions between these worlds,” Miceli said.

According to a new report by Morgan Stanley, social gaming could add up to $20 billion to the luxury sector’s total addressable market, while NFTs in the form of luxury collectibles could become a $25 billion business in Morgan Stanley’s “blue-sky analysis.”

Miceli spoke to WWD about how luxury brands can navigate the metaverse jungle, how the new technology will impact e-commerce and how digital identities will evolve in a post-physical world.

WWD: What have you been doing in the last year to establish Al Dente as an authority on the metaverse?

Patrizio Miceli: After charging full speed ahead, we’re taking a step back on certain subjects that are taking much longer than expected, namely the actual definition of the metaverse.

The interconnection between all the metaverses and the physical world does not yet exist, and won’t exist until a few years from now.

The world of metaverses has not yet been consolidated. Rather, we’re in a phase where we’re seeing metaverses emerge based on functionalities. Some are more gaming-oriented, others are more social platforms, some are there primarily to showcase art. Just as there are dozens of tokens being launched every week, there are dozens of metaverses popping up. Our role is to act as homing devices for brands to analyze all the possibilities and come back with concrete strategies, and to have the capabilities to execute them in-house.

We’re working with most of the [luxury] groups on concrete projects to develop NFTs and the metaverse.

Patrizio Miceli - Credit: Photograph by JD/Courtesy of Al Dente
Patrizio Miceli - Credit: Photograph by JD/Courtesy of Al Dente

Photograph by JD/Courtesy of Al Dente

WWD: Why was it important for Al Dente to have its own plot in The Sandbox, the community-driven platform that allows players to build, own and monetize their gaming experiences?

P.M.: It was important to be able to do “test and learn” experiments for brands. We need to experience and find out things for ourselves.

The founding principle of Web3 is decentralization. Metaverses are concentrations of communities in spaces that have tokens.

That’s one of the things that we explain to brands, that customers have become shareholders.

We have to find metaverses that are in line with the aesthetics of luxury and offer fluid navigation. It’s still some time before millions of people can connect live to a 3D world.

Metaverse experiences should incorporate the aesthetic aspect, architecture, community and gaming. Those are the key ingredients.

WWD: How will the metaverse change e-commerce?

P.M.: E-commerce is about to undergo a profound transformation.

In the future, brands will have two websites, one in Web2 and one in Web3. The Web3 sites will be a fantastic revolution because luxury brands have always struggled to recreate the in-store experience online.

What’s considered a satisfying experience in Web2 is to buy an item with as few clicks as possible. It’s not about the brand experience.

The great strength of Web3 will be to amplify the physical experience with a vision steeped in community and gaming.

You’ll have an experience that’s different from the traditional retail experience, but just as powerful emotionally.

An NFT from Al Dente’s upcoming line “The New Face.” - Credit: Courtesy of Al Dente
An NFT from Al Dente’s upcoming line “The New Face.” - Credit: Courtesy of Al Dente

Courtesy of Al Dente

WWD: Tell us about your new line of NFTs.

P.M.: We plan to launch our line of NFTs in September. We’ve been working on it for four months.

We worked with Imruh Asha, the fashion editor of Dazed, and a lab specialized in 3D realism, to develop a line of masks. And behind this line of NFTs, there’s a roadmap that will incorporate philanthropic collaborations.

It’s going to be the first line of 3D realistic NFTs autogenerated from 356 traits, which can be combined with 60 preset colors and materials. A computer algorithm combines them. We’re going to produce roughly 2,500 NFTs.

The line is designed to help people in the fashion industry become more receptive to the new aesthetics born of Web3.

We’re going to put them in touch with new talents and launch collaborations with brands and charities.

The NFT line is called “The New Face” because it’s going to redefine digital identities through these highly creative masks. It’s a nod to the new faces board at modeling agencies, which people are always looking at to find the next big thing. Web3 is going to usher in a whole new aesthetic.


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