Gucci hosts virtual exhibition in online game Roblox to mark centenary
Gamers can explore Italian fashion designer Alessandro Michele's key designs for Gucci and buy rare virtual collectibles for their avatars as part of an interactive exhibition the fashion house is presenting on Roblox.
This digital Gucci Garden on the gaming platform is based on a real exhibition currently on show in Florence to mark the brand's 100th anniversary.
The virtual exhibition guides visitors through seven rooms themed around Gucci's past fashion collections.
Set within the 3D world of Roblox, the experience allows visitors to collect limited-edition virtual items while their avatars will automatically change based on the order in which they visit the different rooms.
Previously, Gucci has created wearables for games from The Sims to Pokémon Go. It was among the earliest luxury brands to recognise the opportunities of the metaverse – the emerging digital universe where users can live a parallel life to their real-world existence.
"Brands can push the boundaries of creativity in the metaverse and offer experiences that are unrepeatable in real life, rather than simply replicating spaces and experiences from the physical world," Roblox's vice president of brand partnerships Christina Wootton told Dezeen.
"For Gucci Garden, we opened up the ceiling of one room to show the sky. There are butterflies flying around and flowers growing on mannequins' heads. You can't do this at the real-life art exhibition."
This plant-filled room is dedicated to Gucci's Bloom perfume and the remaining six rooms reveal the inspirations and visual references behind different collections created by Michele, who has been the brand's creative director since 2015.
His first-ever collection from AW15, entitled Urban Romanticism, is immortalised in a virtual metro train carriage. Another room with a large pool at its centre is dedicated to last year's cruise collection.
When visitors enter the virtual space, they shed their avatars and become a neutral mannequin, which takes on elements of its surroundings as users navigate the exhibition.
"We used our latest technology to create dynamic, personalised textures and patterns that each visitor's mannequin absorbs as they move through the different rooms of the experience in a randomised order, emerging at the end of their unique journey as one-of-a-kind works of art," Wootton explained.
Beyond creating digital experiences and collectibles for avatars, Gucci has previously released a virtual trainer that can be worn by real people using augmented reality.
"I wouldn't be surprised if all of a sudden, Gucci had a satellite startup designing digital-only clothing because they're starting to monetise it right now," commented co-founder of virtual fashion house The Fabricant Kerry Murphy.
"They have the brand behind it, they have the power. They can start doing anything and people will go crazy simply because it's Gucci. The brand is on Roblox, on Snapchat, on Pokemon Go, it's in all of these different places – and that's what we call the metaverse."
Amber Jae Slooten, who co-founded The Fabricant alongside Murphy, argued at the inaugural Dezeen Club metaverse meet-up last month that this digital realm will increasingly begin to merge with our physical reality.
"The virtual world and the real world will integrate," she said at the event, which took place in a virtual rooftop bar on spatial video-chat platform Gather.
"There will be like a virtual layer on top of reality that you'll be able to switch on and off. And there will be virtual worlds that you can go into."
Gucci Garden is on show on Roblox 17-31 May 2021. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.