Meta partners with digital fashion brand: good idea or Game of Thrones-style betrayal?

Last week, Meta, also known as Facebook, announced that it will start selling virtual dresses made by DRESSSX on its Avatar Store.

News is a big time for digital fashion brands. Until last week, only three brands – Prada, Balenciaga and Thom Brown, famous for their physical stores – were invited by the internet giant to create digital clothes for the avatars in the metaverse.

For the first time ever, a digital art group was invited to the party—let alone a party hosted by the largest group operating in the metaverse.

Undoubtedly, DRESSX’s collaboration with Meta deserves a lot of attention. The purpose of friendship is to create conflict.

For some, it’s a huge step for the entire digital world, as billions of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger users will soon have access to digital clothing for the first time.

However, for others in the world of digital, the plan is like a betrayal on the level of “Game of Thrones”: The flight of a friend of decentralization to the field of Great enemy of reason, like the last frontiers. drawn in what one of the industry leaders called “the battle for the future of the Internet”.

with us or against us

When Facebook rebranded itself as Meta in 2021, the move signaled a reorientation of the $450 billion company toward a single goal: conquering the metaverse. Almost immediately, early metaverse developers criticized the practice, arguing that it threatened the internet utopia they were trying to develop.

This “open metaverse” is envisioned as a set of independent digital spaces where personal data and digital assets can move freely.

Meta’s critics are worried that because the business giant relies on controlling user data and analytics, the company will create a huge private empire at the center of its infinite world, where it manages Meta feeds your users.

In this digital world, digital assets are not simply transferred between platforms – a digital garment sold on Meta’s platform, for example, remains within the company’s own walls .

Moreover, the consequences of this great “war” in the development of the digital industry are inevitable: You are building digital clothes for the metaverse without borders or the metaverse with borders.

“Digital Work”

These questions became the basis for the original ideas. Now, as the metaverse begins to form and alliances are sealed, they begin to have real consequences.

For some involved in the digital ecosystem, DRESSX’s merger with Meta is a big betrayal of the possibility of an “open metaverse”.

“Zuckerberg, Facebook … They’ve always made it clear that they don’t want an open, decentralized, free metaverse,” explained Emma-Jane MacKinnon-Lee, founder of digital fashion startup Digitalax, in decrypt. “They want a more controlled environment. […], where they are the main source of oppression. And DRESSX has joined them.

For MacKinnon-Lee, the combination of DRESSX with Meta in this scenario is not a problem, but shows the real compromises of the startup.

“What this meeting shows is a lack of will [em criar] an open, decentralized metaverse,” MacKinnon-Lee lamented. “They’re creating a digital architecture.”

Digital costumes available in Meta’s Avatar Store, including DRESSX creations, are only compatible with the company’s platforms and cannot be removed from them.

“If you publish on a blockchain, it does not mean that you are implementing the principles of decentralization, autonomy, freedom and independence for everyone who interacts with that network,” MacKinnon said. -Lee. “Facebook controls what goes on the internet, who can do it. It’s the antithesis of Web3.

The costumes for sale in Meta’s Avatar Store are not built on the blockchain.

Unlike non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) that exist on the blockchain and prove ownership over something and can remain independent on a central platform, Meta’s clothing is “off-chain”. sold in a video game.

For others in the digital industry, this is not a problem and, of course, it shows the semantic but important difference between “Web3 fashion” advocated by MacKinnon-Lee and “digital fashion” created powered by DRESSX.

“The mission [da DRESSX] It’s about promoting digital as a medium and, I believe, lowering barriers for producers and consumers in terms of cost or freedom of expression. said, “said Dani Loftus, founder of the digital platform Draup.”[Preferem isso] instead of your mission [focar] around the Web3 ethos of decentralization.

DRESSX was founded in August 2020, making it one of the oldest brands in the digital industry. Initially, the company sold digital clothes that were not built on the blockchain.

They then move on to selling NFTs and selling digital clothes both “on-chain” and “off-chain”. Her clothes are available at the Meta store from $2.99 ​​to $8.99.

For Megan Kaspar, a member of the large digital group Red DAO, this trend shows the versatility of DRESSX, as shown by her collaboration with Meta.

“Communication is a powerful function for DRESSX,” says Kaspar decrypt. “The company is the only digital platform that offers on- and off-chain products and services in large centralized and decentralized platforms.”

For MacKinnon-Lee, DRESSX’s introduction of Web2 and Web3 products, cultures and businesses over the past two years has been hypocritical.

“They started like [uma empresa] Web2 then on the bandwagon of NFTs and decentralization, “criticized MacKinnon-Lee. “They pretended it was Web3 for hype. Now that the markets are quiet, they’re asking, ‘Well, where do we go now?’

“A question for the Meta team”

For the founders of DRESSX, the startup’s agreement with Meta – the culmination of six months of negotiations – is a huge step with the potential to bring digital clothes to the digital wardrobes of billions interacting daily with Meta platforms.

“DRESSX wants a future where everyone in the world has a digital wardrobe,” said Daria Shapovalova, the founder of the startup, in the decrypt. “And it’s an opportunity to work with companies like Meta, especially if they believe in the metaverse concept, which can help us accelerate.”

For co-founder Natalia Modenova, it fits perfectly with the DRESSX ethos. “Our vision is that every technology company in the world can embrace digital trends,” he said. decrypt.

Regarding issues related to interoperability or the ability of digital clothes to travel freely between platforms, Modenova dismissed concerns that cooperation with Meta would affect the property rights of customer. “I would say it’s something that can be used on Meta sites,” he explained.

“[É interoperável] between, for example, Facebook and Instagram. They have already built an ecosystem.

When asked if DRESSX had a problem with Meta’s vision for the metaverse, the two founders declined to answer, saying it was “one more question for the Meta team.”

Starting for real work or advertising?

In June, Meta publicly promised to create an “open and inclusive metaverse,” but many criticized the move as a publicity stunt intended to cover up the fact that it had not. The megacorporation is committed to protecting assets and data.

When asked if the company intends to allow digital goods such as digital clothing to be freely transferred between Meta platforms, a company representative said. decrypt: “Our goal is to make it easier for people to take their meta avatars to more places.”

The representative mentioned the possibility now for metas avatars to travel between Facebook, Instagram and Messenger and the programs that have built the Meta Quest VR virtual reality ecosystem.

However, the spokesperson did not specify whether to allow external digital assets to remain on Meta sites or to allow assets purchased on Meta sites to be removed from them. Meta representatives also declined to answer a question about the company’s control over user data in its ecosystem.

The metaverse is something that has been promised for years. Only now is this virtual world being considered by working worlds.

Although tens of billions of dollars have been allocated to a business that could become trillions, when it was not seen – between the worlds without limits and without limits, between the public and self-control of user data, perhaps in between, Web3 fashion and digital media. financial and cultural implications.

*Translated by Daniela Pereira do Nascimento with permission decrypt.co.

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