Hermès is finally getting ready to go into the metaverse. The French luxury design house recently sent an application for a trademark to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application is said to cover everything Web3, including downloadable software that can show, store, and manage virtual goods, digital collectibles, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs.
For the high-end clothing market, the news is exciting and a little bit of a surprise. Some brands, like Hermès, that depend on their past to stay in business are skeptical of evolution. This is especially true when adapting means stepping into a completely uncharted (but still somewhat unproven) environment. The CEO of the LVMH Group, Bernard Arnault, didn’t say that the company would focus on moving into Web3 until January of this year. Now, a number of its companies are working to build a strong online presence. For example, Bulgari is working with Zepeto in South Korea, and Fendi has just joined forces with Meta.
Stefano Rosso, CEO of BVX and creator of the online community platform D-Cave, says that a key part of future-proofing is the rise in business use of the landscape. “In my opinion, any brand should take precautions to be safe online. It is certain that each of us will spend some time in the metaverse using these Web3 techniques of acquisition sooner or later. Even though Hermès’ entry into the virtual world may be imminent, the stakes are definitely high when it comes to designing an attractive and uniquely “Hèrmes” metaversal entrance because the number of competitors is growing.
The fashion giant has been in the Web3 spotlight before. The MetaBirkin NFT scandal happened earlier this year, when the maison accused artist Mason Rothschild of unfair trademark infringement. Rothschild said that his works were just “reinterpretations of the form, material, and name of a known cultural touchpoint.”
Rothschild said in his statement that the company should spend more time “amplifying young creatives and artists” instead of “stomping them out.” He gave Hermès a number of conditions for how it should respond. Hermès’s entry into the metaverse suggests that it may be ready to do just that and fully use the melting pot of creatives that the digital terrain offers.
This may not always be the case, though. Luxury fashion brands have often relied on traditional brand models to keep a high level of exclusivity. Web3’s foundations may be based on the idea of a decentralized and open future, but there is no guarantee that they will really follow through on this.
It would be interesting to see how the company handles these challenges while thinking about how to protect its long history and well-known reputation for excellent craftsmanship. The application signals a new future for the line, but it’s still not clear what that would look like. However, with Web3’s growth in areas like phygital twins, gamified experiences, and interactive marketing, there are many options.
Luxury has had its share of problems in the digital space, especially when it comes to attracting traditional buyers. Hermès’s move into the metaverse, on the other hand, may be just what the market needs to strengthen its position and show that the industry is in Web3 for the long haul.
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