As retail, personalization, and augmented reality continue to evolve, breakout themes such as digital influencers, virtual real estate, and VIP access will emerge.

FREMONT, CA: Recent trials provide insight into what the fashion-tech industry might expect in the coming year, with the prominence of digital spaces, digital fashion, and next-generation technologies that engage and reward consumers who value personalization, co-creation, and exclusivity. What's on everyone's mind as people approach 2022?

Digital influence, public service announcements, and avatars

This year, a new generation of influencers will be formed by digital-first creatives, brands will expand metaverse collaborations that emphasize co-creation, and digital-first designs will influence physical items.

Certain brands have jumped on board early. For instance, Tommy Hilfiger commissioned eight Roblox-native designers to produce 30 digital fashion items inspired by the brand's designs. Forever 21, in collaboration with metaverse development firm Virtual Brand Group, launched a "Shop City" in which Roblox influencers compete to create and operate their stores.

Inclusivity and diversity will be at the forefront of discussion.Profile images, or PFPs, will evolve into membership badges, which brands will dress or develop themselves, capitalizing on existing loyalty communities in the same way Adidas did with the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Avatars as influencers will gain prominence, both human-driven and entirely virtual. Already, Warner Music Group's metaverse casting call urged those who purchased avatars from Guardians of Fashion's modeling and talent agency to demonstrate their social media capabilities to be considered for future projects.

Mapping fictitious real estate

The market for metaverse real estate is booming. Brands and brokers will develop, acquire, and rent digital real estate for virtual events and storefronts where visitors can meet celebrities and designers in their avatars. Expect both "pop-ups," like Gucci demonstrated, and permanent worlds, such as Nikeland, both of which will be available on Roblox.

AR and smart glasses anticipate

Fashion and beauty are already on board. Both Meta and Snap are investing extensively in augmented reality to expand their applications in fashion and retail. The company's long-term ambition is for their smart glasses, dubbed Ray-Ban Stories and Spectacles, to become essential hardware and software.

The march of personalization

Although personalized advice, experiences, and goods continue to promise exclusivity and commitment, technology and implementation remain difficult.

Perhaps the most audacious is on-demand manufacturing and made-to-measure clothes, and development has been pushed aside in favor of more accessible solutions. For instance, Gonçalo Cruz, co-founder, and CEO of PlatformE, which assists brands such as Gucci, Dior, and Farfetch in implementing these technologies, predicts that inventory-free and on-demand fashion will accelerate.