MILAN — Stefano Rosso has clearly found his sweet spot on Web3.
The son of Grupo OTB and Diesel founder Renzo Rosso and OTB board member, Stefano was among the early adopters of the technology and realized its potential when blockchain-based metaverses – think The Sandbox and Decentraland – were still in their infancy. of beta testing. .
“We believed in this from the beginning, me in particular. D-Cave was born as an independent, non-OTB-related project that I nurtured during weekends and evenings in the US and we had already realized that gaming would become the new entertainment ecosystem,” Rosso told WWD, speaking of Manhattan, where NFT.NYC, an event dedicated to Web3, closed last week.
He ventured into the gaming lifestyle arena in 2020 by co-founding D-Cave, which he now describes as a highly curated marketplace for all things Web3, and late last year his enthusiasm reached the family-owned company at lead the creation of Brave Virtual Xperience, a unit of the OTB Group dedicated to Web3 projects for the group’s fashion brands.
Committed full-time to these business shows, he has a clear vision of how brands should tackle the metaverses. As cryptocurrencies fall and NFT prices stabilize, the fashion does not seem to be receding and for good reason, Rosso said.
“This is a great opportunity for the market to retool and eliminate some of the confusion we’ve seen. It’s a great opportunity to enter this arena, because [brands] will no longer feel pressured to launch projects to earn extra dollars [profits] but to really approach the space and establish a dialogue with these communities, which will be very important for the brands”, he offered.
Are these communities already so relevant to luxury?
While recent research indicates that metaverses could soon become a lucrative opportunity for retail companies, generating between $8 trillion and $13 trillion, according to a March study by Citi GPS, and a $50 business billion for luxury goods companies, according to KPMG, Rosso has a more pragmatic view and sees Web3 communities still as a niche, “with a very focused and precise way of thinking and acting, and self-recognized as a united and cohesive,” he said.
“Today it’s still a small world, but it’s growing like wildfire,” he said, predicting that in the not-too-distant future these communities will overwhelm the masses, attracting late-space adepts, a good reason to keep an eye on the alternate world. and in the Web3 project already.
There is more, however.
“The interesting thing is that [the community] it’s made up of people who have made money and are potentially new luxury and premium consumers. There is a new chance for brands to cater to these new consumers. For brands, it’s critical to engage in a conversation [with them] today, because if you make the list of most wanted brands today, you gain loyal customers who can spend money with you for years to come,” he offered.
This partly explains why BVX was established.
Asked about the evolution of the unit after a few months since its launch, he noted how Diesel has already stepped on the accelerator with Web3 initiatives by establishing D:Verse, a platform dedicated to Diesel and NFT enthusiasts, offering NFT print editions. limited range of fashion pieces to be purchased alongside real merchandise and serving as a community-facing space, allowing Diesel NFT owners to mingle and engage via a dedicated Discord channel.
“At the same time, we started to outline action plans for other brands in the portfolio. Some are more advanced than others, and while we haven’t released any projects yet [other than Diesel’s]some brands are almost ready and we expect something to happen in the third or fourth quarter of the year,” he said, hinting at an upcoming Web3 initiative for Maison Margiela.
While brands are racing when it comes to NFTs, embracing the metaverses and more, Rosso says the crowded landscape still has room for experimentation.
“Fashion needs a youthful approach and being willing to play and experiment, trying to think outside the box, because these spaces are untouched and there are no written rules, you can always find new ways to interpret the creativity of the brand,” he said.
“Brands that don’t understand that to attract a Web3 consumer they need to have a Web3 approach run the risk of losing credibility and missing out on great opportunities,” he noted.
As the Web3 environment settles and adjusts after the exposure and vertiginous growth in recent months, Rosso believes connecting the dots between the digital and physical spaces is critical for fashion and luxury brands.
“We are social animals by nature, humans don’t feel good, alone in virtual spaces without physically sharing their experiences,” said Rosso.
“Everyone is moving from virtual-only spaces and NFT-only projects to activities that are mixed or at least have a physical component,” he said, citing long lines at NFT.NYC for merchandise sold at some of the 20 to 30 events a year. day. “There is a need to create a real sense of community, bringing people together, selling goods,” he said.
Additionally, the metaverses are offering experiences that can feel a bit shaky and gimmicky to compete with the luxury physical experience and Rosso claims AR-enabled wearables will mark the tipping point.
“That’s fair, it already happened at the beginning of the internet age, [Web3] It’s still in its early stages, but I think it’s important to start experimenting today,” Rosso countered.
“Furthermore, I must say that the aesthetic taste we apply to the physical world cannot always be compared to that of people used to living inside the metaverses. Something that seems cryptic and banal to us, perhaps to a young man who spends many hours inside Decentraland is the epitome of good aesthetics… You always have to interpret [the metaverse] with different eyes, because you can’t take for granted that users consider the experience to be bad,” he said.
Despite this, one of D-Cave’s main goals is to offer customers and brands an elevated experience, creativity and graphics.
“It’s hard to find entities in the Web3 space that can value brands through top-notch graphics and creativity, who understand how critical visual identity is for brands, and who know how to best leverage it,” said Rosso. “We are the space to launch unique and interesting projects, we are a kind of bridge between the two worlds”, he added.
Case in point: D-Cave’s most recent projects included physical assets. The market has joined Bulova on the brand’s Computron LED watch reinterpreted for D-Cave, evolving its original design by adding visual concepts inspired by the gaming world and unveiled in a dedicated space in Decentraland. Last week, the platform launched a Meta Lica collection of physical NFTs and sunglasses, the result of a partnership with eyewear specialist Retrosuperfuture and experimental digital marketplace The Dematerialised.
While Rosso’s original ambition for D-Cave was to open a permanent physical facility in New York, the pandemic has altered his vision.
“Today we market ourselves as a digital space and metaverse that can eventually interact with physical spaces,” he said, hinting at opening pop-ups synced with certain projects rather than permanent addresses.