In the second week of November, Gemma Sheppard, Metaverse Global Fashion Director at Roblox, Journalist, Stylist and Podcaster joined Vogue Education Presents to give students at Condé Nast College a closer insight into ‘What’s next in metaverse fashion?’
About Gemma Sheppard:
“My career is based on the power of yes.” – Gemma Sheppard
British fashion stylist Gemma Sheppard is no stranger to taking risks and constantly evolving in her century long, impressive career. Born and raised in a small English town called ‘Langer’ in Nottinghamshire, she discovered her love for fashion and styling from an early age. Through her impressive 20 year-long career, she worked with brands like Tom Ford or Alexander McQueen. However, she is probably best known to the public as the stylist for Britain’s biggest entertainment shows like ‘The X-Factor’, ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’‘Dancing on Ice,’ and especially ‘Ten Years Younger in 10 Days.’ Beyond that, she also started her own clothing line in 2022 called ‘Out Of Office.’
Sheppard credits her success to her extraordinary passion for being a stylist. She highlights that the power of empowering others makes her feel so infatuated by her job.
Defying a new way of styling at ‘Roblox:’
This January, Sheppard was recruited by ‘Roblox’, an online gaming giant with over 50 million daily users, as the first metaverse stylist of her kind. “My idea of working in the metaverse came very unintentionally,” she laughed. “I asked my goddaughter what kind of present she wanted for Christmas and she said that she wanted money for her avatar’s new shoes on Roblox. I was so flabbergasted but in the same way intrigued by this idea and I was keen to find out more.”
What started with a wish from her goddaughter, now became Gemma Sheppard’s profession and passion project. “The world of fashion is the world of storytelling.“ she emphasises. At Roblox Gemma’s role requires her to assist Roblox users to upgrade the style of their avatars. Additionally, she helps them to make their avatars unique, as well as representing themselves online.
“As a fashion stylist, what I’m seeing with avatars is playfulness. Mine is always depicted by my mood. I love the fact that my avatar walks these days better in heels than I do! But how great that she wears the shoes that I once did! You can experiment in the metaverse and that’s the beauty of this creativity. We are building a world where more and more people are able to become creators.” – Gemma Sheppard
Gen-Z and the metaverse goes hand in hand:
“I am eager to keep evolving. Not for money but for myself.“ – Gemma Sheppard
During her panel talk at Condé Nast College, Gemma dissected the key findings from the 2022 Metaverse Fashion Trends report, released by Roblox earlier this month. She highlights that keeping up with the current generation is one of the key reasons that helped her to stay relevant as a stylist in the ever-changing fashion industry. “I’ve always surrounded myself with young people.” she emphasised.
The new generation already understands the virtual world and digital fashion. There is a growing demand for virtual apparel among young people, who possess a multi-billion pound purchasing power. According to Gen Z survey respondents, self-expression in the digital world is more important than self-expression in the physical world.
Compared with 2021, the number of clothing and accessory items designed by Roblox creators increased by 25% this year. Therefore, being a fashion designer in the metaverse might become just as regarded as being a designer of physical garments.
What does the future hold for metaverse fashion?
Nevertheless, Gemma believes that virtual and physical fashion can coexist in a world where one does not exclude the other.
Some fashion brands have already recognised the immense potential of virtual fashion, by creating digital spaces that connect real-life fashion with an immersive consumer experience. Digital spaces act as virtual extensions of physical fashion marketing strategies. Examples like these include brands like Burberry, Givenchy, Gucci, Forever 21 or Nike, which all created virtual assets on Roblox. Not stopping there, Gucci additionally released their own metaverse platform, marking it the first luxury brand to do so, called the ‘Gucci Vault.’
All in all, the future of digital fashion will be unstoppable according to Gemma.
She is currently preparing with Roblox for the reveal of her biggest metaverse project to date. Though she couldn’t share any details yet, she did disclose that it would mark a revolutionary event.
By Katharina Rolfes, studying MA Luxury Brand Strategy & Business