The Interview: David Cash, Lead Curator for Metaverse Fashion Week
With most fashion weeks returning to physical formats this year, virtual world Decentraland will host the inaugural Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW). From 24-27 March, the virtual event will host a variety of digital and traditional brands, showcasing their virtual collections alongside pop-up events, after parties and runway shows.
TheIndustry.fashion speaks with MVFW's Lead Curator, David Cash, about how consumers experience fashion in a virtual environment and the relationship between fashion brands and the metaverse. Cash also speaks about CashLabs Gallery, where his Web3 agency will host a mixed media art gallery.
2021 marked the year in which the fashion industry really embraced and leverages on the NFT space. What are your observations this year, with digital elements growing from strength to strength in fashion weeks?
Coming out of COVID, people are now really used to experiencing fashion virtually, whether that be through e-commerce or watching runway shows virtually, and I think that's never going to fully go away. We now have the option to attend something physically, or witness it virtually.
One thing that you're going to see at Decentraland's Fashion Week this week is what I call meta-commerce, which allows you to buy real life goods in the metaverse.
Can you take us back to December 2021 and talk us through how you joined Decentraland Foundation as a blockchain Consultant and Curator for MVFW?
I've been working with Decentraland in a non official capacity for the better part of the past year, because we've done several activations, namely the sneaker project that we did with French Montana last year. I got to know Sam Hamilton, who's the Creative Director, Adam, who's their Head of Partnerships, and Giovanna, who's their Events Lead. I met up with the team in December 2021, we went for a lovely breakfast and just casually spoke about the Metaverse Music Festival.
MVFW started from purely an idea that Sam was thinking of, and we started putting together a list of brands that we wanted to talk to - the original list was maybe 20 brands. When we met up again a month later, the list was already up to like 50 or 60 people. The next time we met, it was 80 people, so the interest was just kind of growing exponentially.
How do you feel about having your own gallery space for MVFW? Are you nervous or excited?
I'm more excited than nervous and we have a really great lineup of artists. The CashLabs gallery is something that I've thought about for a while. It's six plots of land in the Crypto Valley District, which is one of the core districts of Decentraland. One of my goals as a curator overall for MVFW was to present fashion in every way possible. Through my gallery I wanted to bring all of the other means such as photography, still imagery, video, 3D rendering. So, fashion as sculptures, fashion as virtual garments, fashion as AR filters, fashion as VR experiences and beyond.
With more than 55 brands participating in the event, what does MVFW mean for traditional fashion brands and the new digital fashion brands?
This is what the digital fashion brands have been doing for the past two to five years and I think this is really a celebration and justification of everything that they've been doing. For the traditional brands, I think that it's a big step. I think that a lot of the traditional brands have been looking for this kind of next step for a while and they've been trying to figure it out ever since Meta made their announcement.
The first question a legacy or traditional brand ask me is not about NFTs or about web three - it's how do they take part in the metaverse? And I think that's a good entry point. People considering NFTs as the sole entry point to Web3 is incorrect because NFTs are just one element of the whole ecosystem. Through events like this, I hope that brands can see value from a larger standpoint and wrap their minds around an activation in the metaverse versus an NFT activation.
One of the brands I'm working with helping them enter the space during MVFW is Estée Lauder. They've built a custom building where you're going to be able to claim a free beauty wearable that will make your character glow. It is an example of a brand that has significant resources and significant marketing, and then choosing to make one of their activations this season in the metaverse.
I remember my first time going into Decentraland. In this kind of gamified video game ecosystem it's easier to understand these kinds of lofty, potentially scary ideas. And I do see a lot of brands starting to wrap their minds around it, which which I find really positive.
Tell us about the breakthroughs and challenges leading up to MVFW.
I'd say that the challenges for an event like this are very similar to the challenges around any truly decentralised endeavour. We are kind of reliant on centralised systems in order to communicate, and all communication has to go through a number of different means as we are working with brands, artists, and individuals from almost every country in the world.
I'd say the biggest challenge in terms of putting this together is a logistics challenge. While planning for the panels, we were coordinating with about 50 people from around the world. Lining up a time where six people from six different time zones can eat and talk is definitely a challenge.
As we were talking about what are we going to do differently next year, one of the things that often comes up is that Decentraland is an open Metaverse and we promote interoperability. We don't want to be a Facebook solution where we control everything. So what we what we keep saying internally is we would love for more Metaverse solutions to join us in MVFW, and actually make this you know a fashion week across Metaverse solutions. Why do we need multiple Fashion Weeks? Let's all have one together.
We know that the Metaverse in its initial definition, does not exist. Can you define the current realm that Decentraland and other virtual worlds are part of?
I think for anybody who lives or works in a Web3 space, we want self sovereignty, we want data sovereignty, we want control over our digital identities. I think what Decentraland promotes is a beautiful product and they're continuing to build and develop and make it more 360. I definitely see a future where you could view Decentraland, as I said, on your phone, on your VR headset, you know, fully inter-operably.
As it stands right now, the only the main thing I like to stick out about Decentraland is it promotes interoperability and if I click on an object, it'll give me a prompt to go to a website. We're not trying to keep you inside Decentraland, we're trying to aid in a more open version of the internet.
During MVFW, you'll see we have portals that will travel you around the metaverse, but we also have portals that will take you to other spaces outside of the central app. There's going to be QR codes on walls that you can scan with your phone and enter AR experiences. There's going to be other spaces where if you click a link, it'll bring you to a completely other browser and it'll load a different metaverse experience.
Looking ahead, what’s next in store for you?
I'm as busy as you can probably tell, there's always a million things going on and Cash Labs is definitely growing right now. We are looking forward to focusing on a bunch of projects that we've had to put on the backburner over the past month as we prepped for MVFW.
We have a bunch of really exciting projects coming up over the coming months, a bunch of artists collaborations, where we're working directly with a few really amazing artists that we're excited to announce. But in addition to that we have a few hero clients who are kind of our mainstays. And we have a bunch of exciting things planned with them. Next month, I'm going to be going on a little mini tour and going to a bunch of conferences - I'll be in Miami, Lisbon, Berlin, and Paris. That's what is immediately next but lots of things on the horizon.