Are you able to see the biggest virtual fashion runway in the world?

Mariko Oi
Asia Business correspondent

Image source, Zepeto

Zepeto has almost one quarter of a million users and is Asia’s most popular metaverse platform.

What app would you choose if there were five minutes on the clock between your meetings and commute? Many of us will open Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, but others may choose gaming apps. For more teens, however, it is a metaverse platform that allows them to log-in and check in on their avatars.

The avatar could look exactly like the person you are in reality. You could also pretend that you are someone or something completely different. You could even pretend to be someone or something completely different. That is the half of attraction.

Monica Louise (also known as Monica Quin) is a South Korean social media user Zepeto. She says, “My avatar represents who I would like to be that day.”

It’s difficult to do our hair in real life. But, with the digital world, that is possible.

But what is a metaverse, exactly? The metaverse online is a virtual world that blends with augmented and virtual reality. This is the latest tech breakthrough. Zepeto, Asia’s largest metaverse platform with nearly a quarter billion users, was launched three years ago.

70% of them are females. Some are even young teens, which is rare considering most other metaverse platforms, such as Roblox, tend to be dominated by men.

Rudy Lee (chief strategy officer, Zepeto) stated that “a lot of our user haven’t yet used Instagram, and a higher number of our members haven’t yet used Facebook.” They are now engaging with us because we are the first social networking they use.”

Ninety percent are not in South Korea. That’s just like Monica, a 28-year old Canadian, and Hannah, a 19-year old American.

Both of them joined Zepeto for 2018 Monica liked the idea of seeing an electronic representation of her, while Hannah was intrigued when she found it accidentally, browsing through the apps store.

Escapism in another reality

Hannah says that she is not a big fan of social media. Zepeto allows you to be yourself and is free from any obligations.

Monica’s Zepeto avatar earns her a six-figure salary.

Monica, a virtual influencer is known for designing tops and dresses that other avatars can buy. The platform’s creators have made over 1.6 million virtual fashion products.

These items can be sold using in-game currency “zems”. Monica’s products range from 1 to 5 zems in each price. For every sale worth 5,000 zems, a creator gets $106 (£80). Zepeto users can pay real money for these Zems.

Lee said, “Everyday, there are people designing and publishing tens or thousands of new items.” We are the biggest virtual fashion marketplace worldwide, I believe.

Large luxury fashion brands, such as Gucci and Dior, as well as many local and regional brands are planning to launch their virtual products via the platform.

Monica says that while I may not be able to afford certain clothes, it is possible to purchase all the items online. This is one of the reasons I feel so drawn to this.

Zepeto announced a scholarship in partnership with Instituto Marangoni Miami to inspire future designers. It asked for applicants last month to design a collection.

The ‘IRL” career

It goes far beyond fashion. It is possible to make a living as an entertainer, or as an architect in the metaverse.

Hannah works as a cartographer and creates Zepeto maps. She also makes virtual environments for avatars.

I was told by her that “it’s almost like an alternate reality.” I create things that are real, drawing inspiration from real architecture. However, a lot people also make fantasy elements.

We realized that virtual people were busking in metaverse. “So, we’re working with music label to develop virtual singers,” states Mr Lee.

“We’re working with high schools, colleges and online learning institutions to provide more access to the metaverse tools to help people create content. This will allow them to have a career and make a living from it.”

Many of South Korea’s entertainment, gaming and home-shopping platforms are populated by digital humans. They act exactly like celebrities.

Rozy, an artificial intelligence (AI) influencer has been involved in more than 100 real-life sponsorships. Lotte conglomerate’s home shopping network also has Lucy who has more than 60,000 Instagram followers.

Life after death?

Even dead people could be brought back into the physical world in the future.

Stanley Kim, chief executive at Vive Studios, says that technology has made it possible for all people who have died – fathers, mothers and family members – to be restored virtualy. Vive Studios made headlines last year with the creation of an avatar that could help grieving mothers to cope with the loss of their daughter.

In the next 3 to 5 years, “virtual humans” will be perfectly created using 3D animated by AI. He says that you can even replicate their voices if there are 8 hours of recordings.

Are we likely to have multiple, disconnected metaverses with all the companies investing in metaverses, such as Meta, formerly Facebook, and Microsoft?

Vive founder Mr Kim said that it is similar to when the internet was first invented. It was a very competitive industry with many firms. But, eventually, a few companies won. The metaverse is the same.

The Seoul government, South Korea, has been the leading company in the field, and it is now the largest global city, having invested $35 million in its own metaverse.

ChangKeun Lee from Seoul Metropolitan Government says that an AI public servant, rather than having to travel to Seoul, will be able to help residents solve real world problems.

Festivals can be held without concern about Covid-19. It is possible to travel anywhere in the universe or to go back in time to the Chosun family.

Virtual living is still a distant dream for most people. Although the metaverse is becoming more prominent in recent years, regulations and control will be necessary as privacy concerns and risk factors increase.

You also need to think about ethical considerations. What happens if an avatar is accused of stealing virtual assets or commits another crime in the metaverse.

I believe it’s important for regulators to make use of this more and to be able then to see the pros and cons. Also, have many conversations with operators like us who are responsible for managing platforms.” says Zepeto’s Mr Lee.

One thing is certain for now: the metaverse is still being constructed in pieces, but the race has started to populate it with the best assets.


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