Karlie Kloss is embracing the metaverse with Fashion Klossette Designer Showcase, a centralized hub that teleports visitors to explore five pop-up shops featuring community-created digital fashion collections.
Kloss has partnered with Roblox community designers to help expand and elevate their individual work, as well as highlight digital fashion and self-expression on the platform to the broader fashion community.
More from WWD
Each shop is inspired by a different genre of fashion and is located across some of the platform’s mega-popular virtual worlds.
Kloss worked with the five featured digital fashion designers on Roblox to help curate their custom-themed collections, including digital clothing and accessories that will be sold in the pop-ups. Within each shop, users can take photos, learn poses and style their looks based on each designer’s curated collection.
“I have long been passionate about the intersection of fashion and technology, and I truly believe that digital fashion will play a huge role in the evolution of the industry,” said Kloss, the 29-year-old fashion model and entrepreneur. “Roblox and its community of digital designers are revolutionizing how people express themselves online, uninhibited by the limitations of the physical world.
“There’s so much potential in what the experience in the metaverse can be,” she told WWD Monday. “Today, Roblox is a platform that has 50 million daily active users and community creators who come together every day to connect, to create and to express themselves. Fashion is a huge part of how all us express ourselves every single day. I think the relationship to that digital experience is very exciting — to think about the future of digital fashion. It’s very much the future, but it’s also very much the now,” said Kloss. She said that’s why she wanted to work with Roblox to create this designer showcase, which is elevating the designs of the creative community that exists on Roblox.
Kloss appreciates how digital fashion democratizes the industry. “I’m a girl from Missouri who if it weren’t for my career as a model, I would never have the chance to touch, much less wear a couture gown. There’s something so powerful about democratized access of digital fashion, and the way you can access and experience fashion in the digital experience,” said Kloss.
Over the past two years, Kloss has been spending time really learning the space, having grown up with gaming.
“I love gaming. My three sisters and I would always play every video game growing up, and there were very few female characters and very limited fashion to play with and buy.” She said that’s why she believes so strongly in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) and that Kode with Klossy, the free coding camp she founded in the U.S. for girls aged 13 to 18, exists, to create pathways for young women to learn technical skills to build whatever they’re passionate about.
She believes that part of the reason why one has yet to see enough innovation in this intersection “is because there haven’t been enough people equipped with technical skills with the fashion perspective…”
“I think the female perspective has been lacking. And it’s not reflective of the actual gaming community. It’s closer to a 50/50 split than people realize. The future of digital fashion and the role that women can play in these spaces, there’s huge potential,” said Kloss.
During COVID-19, Kloss spent a lot of time learning the Roblox platform and the designers and meeting and getting to know them and their design process. “Some of the designers have been on the platform since they are eight years old,” she said. They are now designing garments and making thousands if not millions of dollars. She said the creative community earned more than $500 million in 2021. Roblox began in 2006.
“When I think about the industry that we work in, we get to meet and work with and be inspired by next-generation designers. It’s a very difficult business. I think how to further connect these two worlds between physical fashion and digital fashion, there’s huge business opportunity for design talent and also there’s huge demand from consumers because we live and collaborate and connect in these virtual spaces,” said Kloss.
Right now it’s just virtual clothing, but physical clothing is just around the corner, she said. “That’s something the creators are thinking about and the consumers are looking for,” said Kloss.
After meeting with a number of community creators, Kloss hand-picked each designer for the collaboration, and over the past several months has supported each of them to help bring their visions to life. Designers created their collections using the platform’s cutting-edge Layered Clothing technology that powers hyper-realistic and inclusive clothing that fits any avatar body type. Sales from every piece that’s sold goes directly to the creators.
People that have Robux and can buy the items, and there are items for free. They can go into the pop-ups and win items for free and they can try on clothes and take pictures in photo booths. “The shareable content is a huge part of how people really express themselves,” Kloss said. “I’ll be connecting my audience to the creative spaces happening on Roblox,” she said. Asked if she’s helping the five creators financially, she said the barriers to entry are so much less than in the real world. “To be a designer on Roblox, you need the equipment and the skills, but you’re creating with line of code, as opposed to thread and fabric,” she said.
“The industry doesn’t understand the role that fashion plays in gaming and in the metaverse, and I think this conversation, we’re only at the beginning of it. There’s so much intention on how to bridge these two worlds,” she said. “I’m very excited to help elevate these designers and to introduce them to my audience and also to the fashion industry, and vice versa. Part of what I hope to accomplish with this designer showcase is to really build the space that can bridge the industry that I’ve spent half my life in and this platform that is reaching many millions of people,” said Kloss.
The designers with whom Kloss has collaborated are Builder Boy, Lovespun, Reverse Polarity, RynityRift and Yourius, whom she said are all individually successful.
Builder Boy is embracing Art Deco vibes in Mermaid Life.
Lovespun brings the Rococo shop to life in Roblox High School 2.
Reverse Polarity takes on the Gothic era, but with a futuristic twist in their pop-up in Fashion Famous.
RynityRift is creating cyberpunk heaven in RoBeats.
Yourius takes it Western but with a modern twist in their pop up in Livetopia.
“The fashion industry has a lot to teach digital fashion. But digital fashion has a lot to reach the fashion industry,” said Roblox creator Samuel Jordan, aka Builder Boy. “Working with Karlie, we learned from each other. That is the best way to create.”
According to Christina Wootton, vice president of global partnerships at Roblox, “Digital fashion plays an important role in our community’s creative self-expression: just in 2021, 25 million virtual items were created by digital fashion designers on Roblox, and one in five of our daily active users updated their avatar on any given day.”
“Karlie has been an inspiration and role model for young women in STEM for many years, and this new collection bridging fashion and tech is about empowering the next generation of digital fashion designers. Over the next few years — as digital fashion becomes more mainstream — social and creative metaverse platforms like Roblox will be where designers of the future build their careers and grow their global customer audience,” said Wootton.
As for Kloss’ own activities in the metaverse, she said her avatar looks pretty similar to her. “She’s pretty tall,” said Kloss.
“I love to play games where there’s a task, whether that’s baking cookies or running around the Gucci Gardens, which I think is an amazing experience. There are so many inspiring things that Gucci has done. Tommy Hilfiger just launched a world on Roblox. We’re starting to see these two worlds collide and it’s just the very beginning. Investing in and elevating the design community in the gaming space is an important part of nurturing this community. There’s going to be so much more opportunity for people trained with these skills,” said Kloss.
“At Kode with Klossy, we’re very focused on creating pathways for young people to learn technical skills and they can apply them in any way they want: Some are building games, some are building apps that are positively impacting their community, some are using their technical skills to fight for social justice or voting rights or creating coding opportunities for their peers. I think nurturing this community is an important part of continuing to invest in the future of digital fashion,” she said.
She said going forward, she has a lot of ideas to introduce designers and design houses to these digital spaces. “There’s huge business opportunity, but moreover, there are so many more people they can inspire and influence,” said Kloss.
“Fashion should be for everyone. But the truth of the matter is, whether it’s price point or geography…it’s not always possible to access the best of fashion. In Roblox, I want to create a space where that’s possible,” said Kloss. She said it’s just a matter of time where these designers are making virtual garments are able to sell the physical twin of that simultaneously.
Fashion Klossette Designer showcase is live Tuesday through July 25.
FOR MORE STORIES: