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We took a tour of the Metaverse

The third edition of the Circular Fashion Summit seen through a VR viewer

We took a tour of the Metaverse  The third edition of the Circular Fashion Summit seen through a VR viewer
Credits: Samy LaCrapule

All it took was a visor and an avatar to attend the third edition of the Circular Fashion Summit at the Grand Palais Éphémère, in the Metaverse, a conference on the role of sustainable development in the future of the fashion industry in which a committee of organizers, including Vogue and the Kering Group, selects the most deserving innovators and designers in this field. Among the points in the program there was also a networking meeting between VR avatars - guests, speakers, designers and innovators - which I didn't attend, however, because, although the concept of space in the web3 is fleeting, the concept of time exists, and so a trivial delay made me miss by a hair's breadth a historic meeting with the avatar of Anna Wintour. Virtual encounters aside, the one that took place was an exhibition on sustainability like many others, except that it took place in this sort of virtual 'space' that defies any definition. And so, on the screen of the visor, a central pavilion loomed up with several "buildings" in the form of luminous igloos, within which a series of identical three-dimensional rooms branched off, quite realistic and decently furnished, with marble floors and decorative plants, without even a map or signs to indicate the route to follow.

But take away the virtual space and the idea of being already in the future, it was just me, who every time I took a step outside the pre-established perimeter of the game found myself with red signs and the edge of my desk to bump into, much to the amusement of my colleagues. Putting aside the foreseeable orientation issues, the exhibit consisted of a series of installations with a big screen in each room on which videos were projected about cotton production processes or explained how this year's sustainability award winning company was able to turn food waste into textile materials. Looping images of cotton balls contrasted with the sea of waste produced by fast fashion or the exhaust fumes from industries. Exhausting. I'm not arguing that this is an important issue that I feel particularly close to, given that the climate clock only predicts 7 years of life for each of us, but there is no universe or Metaverse in which it's worth it to sit through two hours of videos on the most sustainable ways to weave wool with a two-pound visor on your forehead, especially if you don't know how to weave. The best part were the fashion films depicting garments created by new sustainable fashion designers between runway shows and performances.

As far as the feeling of finding oneself virtually, yet physically, in a kind of embodied Internet is concerned, the panorama that appears on the screen is reminiscent of those 3D movies that we have been used to seeing at the cinema since Avatar, a kind of vivid and at the same time surreal video game accompanied by the awareness that the environment you see is not the one that 'really' surrounds you, almost an enveloping sense of vertigo. Yet the real problem of this experience was the exhibition, not the Metaverse. It was a first ambitious attempt to transpose a conference format that might work very well in everyday life and that in the Metaverse is instead an endless loop of videos that were perhaps more convenient to watch on Youtube. If you want to organize an exhibition in the Metaverse, this is definitely the wrong way.