Super-Short Miniskirts: Can Anyone Actually Wear Them? – What Lia Thomas Could Mean for Women’s Elite Sports – McKinsey Quarterly: Marketing in the metaverse: An opportunity for innovation and experimentation – Fashion: Sex, Money and Fashion: Luxury Label Balenciaga Fetishises Suiting at the New York Stock Exchange

Super-Short Miniskirts: Can Anyone Actually Wear Them? – What Lia Thomas Could Mean for Women’s Elite Sports – McKinsey Quarterly: Marketing in the metaverse: An opportunity for innovation and experimentation – Sex, Money and Fashion: Luxury Label Balenciaga Fetishises Suiting at the New York Stock Exchange

Today’s edition of the TextileFuture Newsletter has plentiful information for you, because the team of our organisation selected them with outstanding care of your interests.

The first feature is based upon the new fashion trends: “Super-Short Miniskirts: Can Anyone Actually Wear them?” You will find some interesting answers, garnered with nice captions.

The second item is entitled “What Lia Thomas Could” Mean for Women’s Elite Sports”, a story on a transgender athlete, fighting not only in her discipline but also for Elite Sports in general, by illuminating every angle of her demanding and also sometimes depressing life.

The third feature is a McKinsey Quarterly on “Marketing in the metaverse: An opportunity for innovation and experimentation”, offering broad advice on all aspects needing to be covered.

The fourth item is again on Fashion and bears the title “Sex, Money and Fashion: Luxury label Balenciaga fetishes Suiting at the New York Stock Exchange”, published firstly in the Wall Street Journal Magazine and written by guest author Rory Satran. She had her eyes and ears open to gather all aspects of the spectacle.

All stories are worthwhile, so please read them at full length, and don’t forget to return next Tuesday for another edition of the TextileFuture Newsletter.

Have a worthwhile week!


Here starts the first feature:

Super-Short Miniskirts: Can Anyone Actually Wear Them?

By Lauren Mechling / Photography by Bryce Anderson for The Wall Street Journal, Fashion Styling by Rebecca Malinsky, Makeup by Francelle Daly, Hair by Takuya Yamaguchi, Manicure by Martha Fekete, Model Zelda/Elite

Just in time for hot-girl summer, miniskirts are trending, but do they translate from the runway to real life? A self-proclaimed Brooklyn soccer mom tested four to find out. Here, her verdict—plus, inspiration for your own adventures in abbreviation.

THE LITTLE THINGS I used to take for granted have lately emerged as the biggest thrills: An in-person consultation with a cranky library clerk. Getting cornered by a boring conversationalist at an actual party. My latest spring reawakening occurred when I was bounding up the steps of my local subway station in a denim miniskirt and I felt a breeze against my legs. Imagine that! How many years had it been since I’d worried about subway-stair decorum?

The miniskirt is making a comeback, with hemlines rising in harmony with our cautiously climbing spirits. After two years of above-the-waist dressing, our lower bodies are getting a moment in the sun. The spring runways were congested with micro-minis—some as thin as sashes—and the trend has legs in the real world, too. This season at Moda Operandi, minis are selling out at a rate that’s 10% higher than other categories, said Jana Hofheimer, a buyer for the online retailer. “Because of that, we are increasing miniskirt supply for the rest of the year by about 20 %,” she added. New York dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank said his clientele is going leg-crazy: His office is fielding a 50 % increase over last year in bookings for treatments to address the sun damage, spider veins and brown spots that minis might reveal.

Minis first made their mark in the 1960s, a sartorial embodiment of sexual liberation and youth culture. The most famous versions came courtesy of Mary Quant’s London shop Bazaar as well as French designer André Courrèges. And since then, minis have been swinging back into fashion every couple of years, according to Valerie Steele, a fashion historian and the director of New York’s Museum at FIT. The abbreviated style had another big boom at the turn of the millennium (image search Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan for proof). Little surprise, it’s here again, just in time for the hot-girl summer we were promised last year. “It’s a kind of dopamine dressing,” Dr. Steele said.

I have a general preference for modest clothing and was a teenager the last time I wore minis on the regular. But I liked the sound of a dopamine boost, and I find the mini more appealing than other trends of the moment—the cutouts I’m not cut out for, the crop tops I can’t stomach. Unlike its more outré colleagues, the mini can confer a bevy of associations: preppy, mod, jaded Bret Easton Ellis heroine. But could I, a 44-year-old Brooklyn soccer mom, look more “youthquake” than big mistake? I borrowed a few styles, refreshed my razor cartridges and set out to find the answer.

I started with an indigo Max Mara number with apron pockets. It’s a fairly conservative option that summons the white so-called “mini” in which Jackie O scandalized the free world in the ’60s. (It nearly reached her knees.) I paired the skirt with a cashmere sweater-shirt and Adidas low-tops and headed to school drop-off. I was the only parent showing skin, but nobody seemed to notice—except for one dad I’d never spoken to before. He greeted me with “Hello” and a warm smile. I had an inkling that he, too, was feeling the dopamine effect.

Before going further, I called some mini muses for advice. First: Jenny Walton, the Milan- and New York-based fashion influencer who has posted pictures of herself in teensy skirts from Prada and Miu Miu. “Coming out of Covid, of course we all want to be a little scandalous,” she said. She urged me to view the mini as a layering piece that can go with colorful tights—a horizontal strip across my mid-body rather than an enormous arrow pointing at my bare legs.

“Pair it with something voluminous on top to work in a little modesty,” suggested Alissa Zachary, the designer behind High Sport, a new ready-to-wear line that sells a mini that’s attached to knit pants (pictured). On a cool day, I zipped into a striped cotton Max Mara mini and paired it with a chunky sweater and knee-high clog boots. With only a few inches of exposed skin, I felt surprisingly cozy. When I set off for a walk, there were no cat calls, no car crashes. This outfit was more about proportion play than provocation.

On Day 3 I learned that there’s another way to pair a mini with maximum propriety: find one that’s part of a suit set. Tod’s A-line viscose and polyester mini comes in a trippy-preppy turquoise and orange pattern. It’s longer than the others, and would definitely pass any test they might still administer at a conservative all-girls school. I slid into a shearling-lined pair of Birkenstocks and ran out the door. When I met up with a friend for a midday walk, she started laughing from a block away. “You call that a mini?” she asked, taking in the skirt’s knee-tickling length. We spent the next hour running errands. By the end I was quite sweaty and ready to embrace a more revealing, breezier mini.

Time for the tiniest of the bunch, also from Tod’s: a flax-colored linen number that would definitely violate a few school dress codes. As I left my front door and knelt to pick up the newspaper, I clocked a man bashfully looking away. This was going to take some delicacy. I stood up, smoothed down my roomy white button-down and headed to a political protest with my family. The sun was strong and I felt comfortably cool as I marched with my fellow protesters. A group of women rushed to the sidelines and broke into a dance routine. The dancer activists were dressed in red and black, and all but a few were wearing… miniskirts. That’s right. Who’s the radical dresser now?

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

Appeared in the May 28, 2022, print edition as ‘The Mini Rises Again’.


Here beginns the second item:

What Lia Thomas Could Mean for Women’s Elite Sports

Although the number of top transgender athletes is small, the disagreements are profound, cutting to the core of the debate around gender identity and biological sex.

By guest author Michael Powell from the New York Times. Michael Powell is a national reporter covering issues around free speech and expression, and stories capturing intellectual and campus debate.

The women on the Princeton University swim team spoke of collective frustration edging into anger. They had watched Lia Thomas, a transgender woman who swam for the University of Pennsylvania, win meet after meet, beating Olympians and breaking records.

On Jan. 9, the team met with Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League athletic conference.

The swimmers, several of whom described the private meeting on condition of anonymity, detailed the biological advantages possessed by transgender female athletes. To ignore these, they said, “was to undermine a half-century fight for female equality in sport.”

Ms. Harris had already declared her support for transgender athletes and denounced transphobia. In an interview, she said that she had replied that she would not change rules in midseason. “Somehow,” a swimmer recalled, “the question of women in sport has become a culture war”.

The battle over whether to let female transgender athletes compete in women’s elite sports has reached an angry pitch, a collision of competing principles: The hard-fought-for right of women to compete in high school, college and pro sports versus a swelling movement to allow transgender athletes to compete in their chosen gender identities.

Although the number of transgender athletes on top teams is small — a precise count is elusive as no major athletic association collects such data — disagreements are profound. They centre on science, fairness and inclusiveness, and cut to the core of distinctions between gender identity and biological sex.

Echoes of those debates ripple outward from pools to weight lifting rooms and tracks, to cycling courses and rugby pitches, and to the Olympics, where officials face a fateful decision on how wide to open the door to transgender women.

Sebastian Coe, the Olympic champion runner and head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which governs world track, speaks of biological difference as inescapable. “Gender,” he said recently, “cannot trump biology.”

The American Civil Liberties Union offers a counterpoint. “It’s not a women’s sport if it doesn’t include ALL women athletes,” the group tweeted. “Lia Thomas belongs on the Penn swimming and diving team.”

The rancor stifles dialogue. At meets, Ms. Thomas has been met by stony silence and muffled boos. College female athletes who speak of frustration and competitive disadvantage are labeled by some trans activists as transphobes and bigots, and are reluctant to talk for fear of being attacked.

Ms. Thomas herself has chosen silence. In March, after winning the 500-yard freestyle in the N.C.A.A. women’s championship in Atlanta, she skipped a news conference. She has of late spoken only to Sports Illustrated, saying, “I’m not a man. I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team.”

Even nomenclature is contentious. Descriptive phrases such as “biological woman” and “biological man” might be seen as central to discussing differences in performance. Many trans rights activists say such expressions are transphobic and insist biology and gender identity are largely social constructs.

Some trans activists try to silence critics, whom they derisively call TERFs, which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminists. A spokeswoman for a gay rights group urged a reporter not to “platform” — that is not to quote — those she said held objectionable views, including Martina Navratilova, the retired tennis legend, a champion of liberal and lesbian causes. Ms. Navratilova argues that transgender female athletes possess insurmountable biological advantages.

“So I’m a ‘TERF’ — OK, that’s the way you want to go?” Ms. Navratilova said in response. “I played against taller women, I played against stronger women, and I beat them all. But if I faced the male equivalent of Lia in tennis, that’s biology. I would have had no shot. And I would have been livid.”

Former allies are split so bitterly as to make reconciliation a distant prospect. Half of Ms. Thomas’s University of Pennsylvania team sent a letter to the school, released by a lawyer, saying the swimmer had “an unfair advantage.” Brooke Forde, an Olympic silver medalist with Stanford, however, supported Ms. Thomas. “Social change is always a slow and difficult process, and we rarely get it correct right away,” she stated.

Griffin Maxwell Brooks, a trans nonbinary diver at Princeton who competes on the men’s team, released a TikTok video accusing “cisgender women” of leveraging “misogyny to perpetuate transphobia.”

Not long afterward, a Princeton eating club barred a female swimmer from joining, saying her “transphobia” might bring it disrepute, according to a Princeton swimmer.

Finally, inescapably, America’s hyperpartisan politics has electrified this debate. Librarians have been told to remove books with transgender themes from shelves. And Republican-dominated legislatures in 18 states have introduced restrictions on transgender participation in public school sports in recent years, according to data from the Human Rights Campaign, an L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group.

A few Republican leaders resisted crackdowns. Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah vetoed a ban on transgender girls competing in girls’ sports; the Legislature overrode his veto.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott demanded agencies investigate parents and doctors who assist children in transitioning, which he termed “child abuse.” In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would “reject lies” and refused to recognize Ms. Thomas as the winner of the 500-yard freestyle championship.

Governor DeSantis’s declaration carried no legal power. But it underlined that a difficult conversation is near lost to the shouting.

The Debate Over the Science

Michael J. Joyner, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., studies the physiology of male and female athletes. He sees in competitive swimming a petri dish. It is a century old, and the sexes follow similar practice and nutrition regimens.

Since prepubescent girls grow faster than boys, they have a competitive advantage early on. Puberty washes away that advantage. “You see the divergence immediately as the testosterone surges into the boys,” Dr. Joyner said. “There are dramatic differences in performances.”

The records for elite adult male swimmers are on average 10 percent to 12 percent faster than the records of elite female swimmers, an advantage that has held for decades.

Little mystery attends to this. Beginning in the womb, men are bathed in testosterone and puberty accelerates that. Men on average have broader shoulders, bigger hands and longer torsos, and greater lung and heart capacity. Muscles are denser.

“There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it,” Dr. Joyner noted. “Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla.”

When a male athlete transitions to female, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs college sports, requires a year of hormone-suppressing therapy to bring down testosterone levels. The N.C.A.A. put this in place to diminish the inherent biological advantage held by those born male.

Ms. Thomas followed this regimen.

But peer reviewed studies show that even after testosterone suppression, top trans women retain a substantial edge when racing against top biological women.

When Ms. Thomas entered women’s meets, she rose substantially in national rankings. Among men, she had ranked 32nd in the 1650-yard freestyle; among women, she ranked eighth and won a race this season by a margin of 38 seconds.

She had ranked 554th in the men’s 200-yard freestyle; she tied for fifth place in this race in the women’s 2022 N.C.A.A championship.

And she ranked 65th in the men’s 500-yard freestyle but won the title as a female.

“Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence,” said Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist who consults on world athletics. “The reduction in testosterone did not remove her biological advantage.”

Testosterone levels are crucial but do not invariably predict performance in every sport. Chris Mosier is a 41-year-old elite athlete who transitioned to male in 2015 and had no testosterone-fuelled developmental advantage. Yet he has beaten elite racewalking biological men.

“Athletic performance depends on a lot of factors: access to coaches and nutritionists and technical skill,” Mr. Mosier said. “We are making broad generalizations about men being bigger, stronger, faster.”

Most scientists, however, view performance differences between elite male and female athletes as near immutable. The Israeli physicist Ira S. Hammerman in 2010 examined 82 events across six sports and found women’s world record times were 10 percent slower than those of men’s records.

“Activists conflate sex and gender in a way that is really confusing,” noted Dr. Carole Hooven, lecturer and co-director of undergraduate studies in human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. She wrote the book “T: The Story of Testosterone.” “There is a large performance gap between healthy normal populations of males and females, and that is driven by testosterone.”

The sprinter Allyson Felix won the most world championship medals in history. Her lifetime best in the 400 meters was 49.26 seconds; in 2018, 275 high school boys ran faster.

Renée Richards was a pioneer among transgender athletes. An ophthalmologist and accomplished amateur tennis player — she played in the U.S. Open and ranked 13th in the men’s 35-and-over division — she transitioned in 1975 at age 41. She joined the women’s pro tennis tour at age 43, ancient in athletic terms. Ms. Richards then made it to the doubles final at Wimbledon and ranked 19th in the world before retiring at 47.

Ms. Richards has said she no longer believes it is fair for transgender women to compete at the elite level.

“I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me,” she said in an interview. “I’ve reconsidered my opinion.”

Joanna Harper, a competitive transgender female runner and Ph.D. student studying elite transgender athletic performance at Loughborough University in Britain, agreed that testosterone gives transgender female athletes some advantage.

But she spoke of inexorable emotional and psychological pressures on transgender athletes.

“Is it so horrible,” she said, “if a handful of us are more successful than they were in men’s sports?”

Reka Gyorgy, a 2016 Olympian and a swimmer at Virginia Tech, offered a response of sort. She placed 17th in the preliminaries for the 500-yard freestyle in the N.C.A.A. championships — a slot short of making the finals. She wrote an open letter, affirming her respect for Ms. Thomas’s work ethic.

She was less forgiving of the N.C.A.A.

“This was my last college meet ever and I feel frustrated,” she wrote. “It feels like that final spot was taken away from me because of the N.C.A.A.’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete.”

That decision prevented her from qualifying for All-America honors.

Title IX and the Fight for Equality

To wander the stands last March at the women’s swim championships at Georgia Tech and ask about Ms. Thomas was to draw shakes of the heads from parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of swimmers. Many emphasized that transgender people should have the same right to housing, jobs, marriage and happiness as any American.

But they talked of the thousands of hours the young women put into their sport. From early childhood, they swam hundreds of laps daily, nursing injuries and watching nutrition. Why, having reached the pinnacle, should they race against a swimmer who retains many biological advantages of a male athlete?

“We have a biological male taking over women’s sports,” said one mother. “I don’t understand why those on the left politically are not supporting cis women.”

Equality for women in sports followed decades of struggle. Fifty years ago, President Nixon signed Title IX, which banned discrimination in higher education. This opened doors to previously all-male classes and led to many more female teams and scholarships.

In 1972, one in 27 girls played sports; today two in five do so, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. The 1972 U.S. Olympic team featured 90 female athletes alongside 339 male athletes. Last year’s American team in Tokyo had 284 male athletes and a record 329 female athletes.


Title IX and the Fight for Equality

To wander the stands last March at the women’s swim championships at Georgia Tech and ask about Ms. Thomas was to draw shakes of the heads from parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of swimmers. Many emphasized that transgender people should have the same right to housing, jobs, marriage and happiness as any American.

But they talked of the thousands of hours the young women put into their sport. From early childhood, they swam hundreds of laps daily, nursing injuries and watching nutrition. Why, having reached the pinnacle, should they race against a swimmer who retains many biological advantages of a male athlete?

“We have a biological male taking over women’s sports,” said one mother. “I don’t understand why those on the left politically are not supporting cis women.”

Equality for women in sports followed decades of struggle. Fifty years ago, President Nixon signed Title IX, which banned discrimination in higher education. This opened doors to previously all-male classes and led to many more female teams and scholarships.

In 1972, one in 27 girls played sports; today two in five do so, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. The 1972 U.S. Olympic team featured 90 female athletes alongside 339 male athletes. Last year’s American team in Tokyo had 284 male athletes and a record 329 female athletes.

Some trans activists are challenging aspects of Title IX, specifically its implicit acknowledgment of biological difference. And supporters, not least the Biden administration, say transgender girls should be permitted on girls’ sports teams. They have pushed for a federal Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, education, employment and credit.

It potentially places biology and gender identity on the same footing in sport. Dr. Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a Duke University law professor and former top track runner, supports legal protections for transgender people but foresees havoc in the arena of sports. The legal rationale for keeping women’s sports sex-segregated would fall away. “We are bringing a male body into a female sport,” Dr. Coleman said. “Once you cross that line, there’s no more rationale for women’s sport.”

Some trans activists and academics welcome that. Nathan Palmer, a lecturer at Georgia Southern University, wrote in Sociology in Focus: “Nature loves diversity, but humans love simplicity. Separating males from females may be socially useful, but when the dividing lines limit and oppress, we have to acknowledge they are social constructions.”

Anna Posbergh, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, is a former pole-vaulter who studies the mechanics of human movement and gender and athletes. She sees notions of gender disadvantage in sports as rooted in culture and an outdated view of what women can achieve.

“I’m beginning to question the idea of sex segregation in sport,” she said. “We need to learn to sit with discomfort.”

This strikes some feminists and scientists as a walk into strange territory. Kathleen Stock, a British philosopher whose work is often grounded in her feminist and lesbian identity, has carved out positions on transgender rights that have made her a lightning rod. She has written “Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism,” and argues against the insistence that one’s gender identity is all. That is to miss, she said, the profound importance of the lived experience of being born a biological female.

“We are caught up in this fever dream,” she said in an interview. “How could it be that a social construct and not the material reality of being a woman is guiding our thoughts and our physical performance?

“I find it incredible that we have to point this out.”


Search for Solutions

Lia Thomas was not the only transgender athlete to swim at the N.C.A.A. championship. Iszac Henig, a transgender man, swam the 100-yard women’s freestyle for Yale and attracted little attention. Yet his story challenges the argument that transgender athletes should swim under their gender identity.

Mr. Henig finished in a tie for fifth in the 100-yard women’s race with a time of 47.32 seconds. Had he chosen to swim against men, Mr. Henig would not have qualified for the championship.

Mr. Henig and Ms. Thomas swam in the race in which they had the greatest advantage. Every decision, a scientist noted, comes adorned with moral thorns.

In Britain, Emily Bridges, a record-breaking male cyclist, recently declared her intent to race as a woman. This has drawn passionate objections from the top women in cycling, who fear losing races and much prize money.

By way of solution, some point to golf, where in amateur competitions, a superior golfer takes a handicap — docking herself strokes — when competing against lesser players. Applied to swimming, a panel might examine Ms. Thomas’s race times and subtract seconds and let her swim.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a policy organization based in Ottawa, argues for an “open category” for men, transgender athletes and biological females, anyone who cares to try her/his/their hand.

An exclusively female category would remain for biological women. This solution would forestall the need for transgender women to take hormone-suppressing drugs.

Some transgender activists argue such distinctions would be insulting, notwithstanding the decision of those such as Mr. Henig to race in their former gender.

The solution, a balance of gender and biology, looks distant. And yet, no end of anguish accompanies the status quo.

In Atlanta, a father, who declined to give his name, sat in the stands and watched Ms. Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle. She was, he noted, far taller than her competitors, with long legs and arms, big hands and broad shoulders. A day earlier his daughter had lost to Ms. Thomas in the 500-yard race, and nothing about that race felt fair to him or his daughter.

The father was polite as Ms. Thomas was announced and clapped twice.

Ms. Thomas lost by a broad margin. She slipped out of the pool, picked up a towel, sidestepped embracing swimmers and walked out, a solitary figure.

The father watched and shook his head.

“In fairness to Lia,” he said, “the emotional toll.”

He added: “I look at her and see the pressure she’s under. And I think: She’s a 22-year-old kid.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 29, 2022, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Much Debate but Little Dialogue on Transgender Female Athletes.


Now you can start reading the third feature here:

McKinsey Quarterly: Marketing in the metaverse: An opportunity for innovation and experimentation

Although widespread adoption of the metaverse may take some time, leading brands are already rewriting the rules of marketing.

Talk of the metaverse has been ubiquitous over the past several months. 1 In 2021, internet searches for the term increased by 7,200 % In December, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared his ambition to “help bring the metaverse to life.” A month later, Microsoft said that its proposed acquisition of gaming giant Activision provided “building blocks for the metaverse.”

This article is a collaborative effort by Eric Hazan, Greg Kelly, Hamza Khan, Dennis Spillecke, and Lareina Yee, representing views from McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing & Sales Practice and McKinsey’s Technology Council. Eric Hazan is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Paris office, Greg Kelly is a senior partner in the Atlanta office, Hamza Khan is a partner in the London office, Dennis Spillecke is a senior partner in the Cologne office, and Lareina Yee is a senior partner in the Bay Area office.

The authors wish to thank their colleagues Inês Araújo Lopes, Emilio Capela, Antonio Celso Maciel Tavares, Lotte Lauer, Estelle Menye Zanga, Philibert Parquier, Kim Rants, Stephen This article was edited by Christine Y. Chen, a senior editor in the Denver office.Schwab, Shivam Srivastava, and Ewa Starzynska for their contributions to this article.

This article was edited by Christine Y. Chen, a senior editor in the Denver office.

It’s not just talk; private capital is also rapidly pouring in. In 2021, metaverse-related companies reportedly raised upward of USD 10 billion, more than twice as much as they did in the previous year. In the past 12 months, one company alone—Epic Games, maker of Fortnite—has not only raised USD 3 billion to fund its long-term vision for the metaverse but also announced a partnership with LEGO to build a metaverse for kids. The global value creation opportunity from the metaverse could be in the trillions.

What, exactly, is the metaverse? Right now, the interested parties cannot agree on any one definition. But most descriptions—including this particularly insightful take from venture capitalist Matthew Ball, who recently shared his thoughts on the promise of the metaverse with McKinsey—have some elements in common:

We believe that the metaverse is best characterized as an evolution of today’s internet—it is something we are immersed in instead of something we look at. It may realize the promise of vast digital worlds to parallel our physical one. For marketers, the metaverse represents an opportunity to engage consumers in entirely new ways while pushing internal capabilities and brand innovation in new directions.

Now is the right time to adopt a test-and-learn mindset, to be open to experiments in the metaverse, and to move on quickly from failure and capitalise on success.

We do continue to see a healthy amount of scepticism about the metaverse, and companies may wish to exercise caution, since the promise may take some time catching up to the hype. But we believe we’re at the cusp of a fundamental shift in how people use the internet. (See sidebar, “Six reasons the metaverse is here to stay.”) Marketers would be remiss if they didn’t start exploring what the metaverse can offer. Now is the right time to adopt a test-and-learn mindset, to be open to experiments, and to move on quickly from failure and capitalise on success.

There’s ample scepticism right now from people who think the metaverse is just a flash in the pan. That’s also what some people thought about the internet during the 1990s. But then, as now, one thing was clear: although we didn’t know which companies would shape this new technological evolution, consumers were flocking to it. Increasingly high levels of consumer adoption propelled fundamental change.

Similarly, the attraction of consumers to today’s metaverse indicates a major shift in the way people use technology. If the metaverse is another evolution of the internet—something we are already in rather than something we observe from a distance—marketers clearly shouldn’t miss out.

Six reasons the metaverse is here to stay

Here’s why we think the metaverse has staying power.

  1. Ongoing technological advances. Technical challenges must still be overcome for metaverse experiences to be completely mainstream—for example, as a result of technical constraints, both Meta’s Horizon Worlds and The Sandbox cap the number of participants for each session. But constant improvements in computing power allow larger virtual worlds to exist. Cloud and edge computing let intensive large-data processes, such as graphics rendering, move off local devices. The rapid adoption of 5G is enabling mobile devices to access these large worlds more easily and with lower latency. And the cost of production for augmented- and virtual-reality hardware is declining. Meta shipped ten million Oculus Quest 2 headsets in 2021, and new devices like haptic gloves and bodysuits are coming on to the market more frequently as well.
  2. Major investments in metaverse infrastructure. In 2021, Meta invested USD 10 billion in the metaverse. Other tech companies have also committed resources to building it—such as the recent launch of the design and simulation platform NVIDIA Omniverse and recent metaverse-friendly updates from Unity Engine, a game developer platform. For good reason, the metaverse dominated this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. More and more companies, large and small, are keen to participate.
  3. A wider set of use cases. Gaming in the metaverse already has mainstream traction. Consumer use cases are now expanding into new immersive retail, entertainment, sports, and educational experiences. Then there are the metaverse’s sizable—but less talked about—enterprise applications and opportunities, including virtual employee training and team collaboration with avatars, virtual prototyping in manufacturing and construction, and virtual-showroom displays for products such as cars. Even government entities are experimenting with the metaverse. In South Korea, the city of Seoul announced a five-year Metaverse Seoul Basic Plan that will begin by creating a virtual Mayor’s Office and a Seoul Campus Town.
  4. Online commerce is mainstream. Already, omnichannel commerce is second nature to most metaverse consumers—payment credentials are often embedded in the devices and software they use. The virtual-goods economy accounts for more than 40 percent of global gaming revenues generated by the world’s billion gamers. In the future, the long-term rise of cryptocurrencies will make any requirements to set up crypto wallet accounts on metaverse platforms less of a barrier. Already we see innovation in both physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical transactions, such as ordering Domino’s pizza in Decentraland for deliveries of actual pizza in the real world.
  5. Demographic tailwinds. The oldest Gen Z consumers are in their mid-20s. Increasingly, they are an income-earning force to be reckoned with. These consumers are more familiar with virtual worlds, transactions, and goods than previous generations are. Gaming is leading the way: 67 % of Roblox’s 50 million daily users are under the age of 16, which could signal the coming of a whole new generation of metaverse natives.
  6. Brand marketing and engagement are more consumer led. The shift toward individual content creators is evident in the more than 50 percent increase in influencer marketing over the past five years on platforms such as WeChat and Pinduoduo in China and YouTube and Instagram in the Western world. This shift bodes well for the growth of the metaverse: a significant share of innovative and engaging experiences will probably come from these creator–users.

Rewriting the rules of marketing for the metaverse

We may still be in the first wave of consumer engagement with the metaverse, but lessons are already emerging from companies that found early success. In some ways, the critical elements of marketing in the metaverse resemble those of designing authentic and compelling brand experiences in the physical world. But the application of these elements in the metaverse can be very different. Much as approaches for driving value online continue to evolve, the effective engagement of consumers in the metaverse will require its own evolving recipe for success.

Here’s what this landscape looks like today and how organizations can think about their metaverse marketing strategies for the future.

Define your metaverse marketing goals. Why do you want to be part of the metaverse? If your brand’s consumers are there, do you want to increase awareness among new audiences, position your brand and generate favorable sentiment, or promote loyalty? Is your goal to spark innovation in your marketing team? For the near term, the primary goal of brands shouldn’t be driving sales directly, since sales of virtual items are still far smaller than sales of physical ones. What’s more, today’s metaverse audiences, especially on online entertainment platforms like Roblox, often skew younger, which brings both opportunities and risks.

Identify the platforms that provide the best opportunity and brand fit. Right now, Roblox, Fortnite, Decentraland, Minecraft, and Meta’s Horizon Worlds are just a few of the metaverse games and platforms out there. Some will be better than others for specific purposes. There is ample opportunity to experiment with multiple platforms to see what works. For example, the luxury brand Gucci has conducted multiple brand activations to figure out where and how to connect with Gen Z. Last year, it drew 19.9 million visitors in two weeks when it launched a metaverse version of its real-world Gucci Garden on Roblox. Gucci has also partnered with the fashion-focused metaverse Zepeto, announced plans to launch a virtual world on the blockchain-based platform The Sandbox, and created assets for games including The Sims, Pokémon GO, and Animal Crossing.

Design experiences appealing to target audiences. Consumers tend to see brands in the metaverse as innovative, so the bar for delivering innovative experiences is high. Companies need to determine the ideal balance between native advertising, immersive experiences (including games, virtual stores, events, and sponsorships), and real-world activations to complement the metaverse. Take, for example, what the skateboarding retailer Vans did last fall when it launched the interactive skatepark “Vans World” on Roblox. To build brand awareness and appeal to the company’s core demographic, Vans enabled visitors to virtually explore skate sites with friends. Visitors can also earn points through gameplay to spend on virtual sneakers and apparel items, as well as to build customized skateboards in a virtual skate shop. This has successfully engaged both existing and new fans—and has seen more than 48 million visitors so far.

Consumers tend to see brands in the metaverse as innovative, so the bar for delivering innovative experiences is high.

Experiment with money-making models. Direct sales may not be front and center on the metaverse right now, but that doesn’t mean brands shouldn’t be thinking ahead and planning to capture the future potential. Direct-to-avatar sales of virtual goods are already a USD 54 billion market, and some forward-thinking brands are testing different opportunities to generate revenues. Forever 21, for example, sells a beanie in Roblox for under a dollar. On the other end of the scale, Gucci sold a digital version of its Dionysus bag last year for USD 4,115—more than the price of the physical item itself. Nike is trying out unique NFTs with its recent release of Nike Cryptokicks (a virtual model of its Nike Dunk sneakers), designed by the creative studio RTFKT, which Nike acquired in December.

Just as online-to-offline sales conversions are the norm today, we can expect to see more metaverse-to-offline opportunities in the future, too. In April, Chipotle claimed it was the first brand to enable Roblox players to exchange digital currency for real-life rewards when it offered vouchers for burritos to the first 30,000 visitors to its metaverse restaurant.

Create, leverage, and partner for new metaverse capabilities. For the metaverse, as for any new venture, brands should assess the skills they will need, identify which they already have and which they must acquire, and appoint someone to lead the development and execution of a coherent strategy to capture value. Brands should also aim to work with and learn from others, including the independent developer and creator communities that are active on the platforms already.

Roblox, for example, has hundreds of thousands in its developer community who are actively developing a range of experiences and learning how to make money from them. Last November, NASCAR partnered with Badimo, the developers of the popular Roblox game Jailbreak, to add a branded vehicle to the game for a ten-day event. During that time, gamers visited Jailbreak 24 million times—a 30 percent increase in the number of concurrent players. Creative, branding, and marketing agencies are also rapidly launching new service models and metaverse capabilities, including their own virtual studios.

Furthermore, celebrities and influencers are increasingly attaching their names to metaverse initiatives. In some cases, they’re deeply involved with the actual creation of new immersive media for the metaverse. Last year, for example, the rapper Snoop Dogg built his own “Snoopverse” in The Sandbox. A few months later, he released the first music video that takes place entirely within the metaverse. “The House I Built,” like previous Snoop Dogg videos, features dancing, hanging out by the poolside, and driving nice cars. But this time, it’s his digital double enjoying the lifestyle.

Proactively plan for risks to the brand. There are many cautionary examples of brands that exposed themselves to risk by engaging directly with consumers online without having prepared for the rapid feedback loops of the internet or the potential virality of social media. In the metaverse, the risks can be even higher, since these events are live in real-time and more immersive. Brands would do well to establish basic rules of engagement—detailed policies and enforcement practices they can follow later—for customer experience, intellectual-property management, user safety, data privacy, and misinformation, for example. Already, in some cases things have not gone according to plan. One global electronics brand launched a new line of products with great fanfare on its metaverse venue, but disappointed fans had trouble gaining access and had to virtually “queue” outside the venue.

Rethink how you measure marketing success. Measuring the returns on marketing spend is always critical, but the appropriate metrics for the metaverse may not be what you expect. Digital marketing typically focuses on metrics such as the number of visitors, conversions, “likes,” and shares, as well as the cost of acquiring customers. With the metaverse, marketers may need to define new engagement metrics accounting for the unique behavioral economics at play (such as the “scarcity” of NFTs, which are supposed to be unique). For example, the online food delivery company Deliveroo deployed virtual drivers to make virtual deliveries in Nintendo’s popular Animal Crossing game, including promo codes to activate in real life. Within the first hours of play, it racked up three million in-game interactions with players.

With the metaverse, marketers may need to define new engagement metrics accounting for the unique behavioural economics at play.

Tread carefully but firmly

Clearly, the metaverse already gives companies ample opportunities for brand building and marketing. The current technological limits and modest level of mainstream adoption are not likely to be major obstacles for experimenting, learning, and finding success with marketing in the metaverse.

A few questions will shape its longer-term evolution. Marketers should be aware of these as they shift their focus and marketing budgets to the metaverse:

  • How will interoperability, or the ability to transfer digital avatars and assets across multiple worlds, work in the metaverse? What implications does that have for brands offering digital assets, such as virtual clothing, today?
  • How will the social contract and legal framework for the metaverse evolve? How will user safety be ensured, particularly for youth? Sensitivities around marketing to minors have always existed, but as generational shifts occur, they come into sharper focus in the metaverse. What additional responsibilities should brands take on for child safety?
  • How will first-party consumer data be stored, managed, and protected? How will data privacy laws apply to the metaverse in the future? And how can brands secure consent and source data to enhance their own consumer insights, especially in a world without cookies?

No matter how the metaverse evolves, levels of innovation and consumer adoption will probably accelerate. When you consider how quickly platforms are evolving and the new use cases emerging, it’s clear that brands will have incentives to go on testing and learning. It will also be imperative for marketers to secure the talent required to keep up with rapid new developments in areas such as augmented and virtual reality, consumer journey analytics, and social commerce.

Finally, the metaverse has great future potential beyond marketing. To create value throughout the enterprise, companies must take the time to think through the potential strategic implications of the metaverse for sales, operations, production, R&D, and HR. Organizations and brands that plan and execute now will benefit most from the future of the metaverse.


This is the beginning of the fourth item:

Fashion: Sex, Money and Fashion: Luxury Label Balenciaga Fetishises Suiting at the New York Stock Exchange

The French brand showed its spring 2023 collection, which includes latex fetish bodysuits, at the iconic Wall Street landmark.

By guest author Rory Satran from the Wall Street Journal Magazine.

Were the models at Sunday’s Balenciaga show the first people to wear latex fetish bodysuits on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange? Impossible to fact-check, yet it was certainly one of the riskier moments in the exchange’s 230-year history.

The French luxury label certainly chose a grabby location at which to reveal its spring 2023 collection. An off-calendar show, it is the first Balenciaga show in New York since 2003 and select pieces are to be sold immediately at the brand’s website and at its Madison Avenue store. Following a week in which the S&P 500 ended down 19% from its Jan. 3 record—nearing the 20 % that would tip it into a bear market—the stack of fake dollar bills that served as the show’s invitation felt particularly poignant.

Showgoers were seated throughout the actual stock-exchange floor, a first for a brand and a coup for a French brand that illustrates Balenciaga’s muscle as a force within the Kering group. The show started with the ceremonial ringing of the floor’s bell and the typical agitation of the trading screens was heightened during the show when they began to flicker (an intentional disruption).

Backstage, after he greeted guest and sometime collaborator Kanye West, the brand’s creative director, Demna (who goes by a mononym), was himself wearing one of the collection’s constricting latex pieces. He said the pieces, which cover the entire head leaving holes only for the eyes and mouth, were about erasing the identity of the person wearing it. He admitted that it was quite hot, and that he’d be removing it as soon as possible.

Blotting the bits of his face he could with a tissue, Demna said the fetish bodysuits connected to the show’s NYSE location because “money is a fetish, probably the biggest one in the world in a perverted way.”

Demna said he wanted to show at “the epicenter of capitalism” because “I think money and identity are very, very connected in a weird way and not necessarily a very healthy way.”

For a brand that is committed to expanding its market in the U.S., it may be counterproductive to instigate a critique of capitalism. But as Demna showed at his fall 2022 show, a searing statement on refugees and Ukraine, he is not afraid to wade into moral and philosophical ambiguity.

In a practical sense those dark, tight fetish suits also served to stylistically unify a collection that held two distinct parts: a new “Garde Robe” subcollection of refined classic suiting and separates for all genders, and a collaboration with Adidas that spun the classic tracksuit into oversized, ironic funhouse versions of the classic. Pieces like a navy trench, pussy-bow blouses in beige and navy silk, and roomy blazers were surprisingly classic for a brand that is at the forefront of hype conceptually.

One top-handle purse shown is called, appropriately, “The Money Bag.” Oversized pumps for women and brogues for men may be a harder pill to swallow as I can’t think of anyone outside the clown community who wants their feet to appear larger.

Drawing a connection between the collection and the show’s location, Demna summed it up: “It’s all about the money, right?”



Newsletter of last Week

The Latest Divisive ‘Y2K’ Trend? Sexy-Cozy Juicy Couture Tracksuits – Even Thrift Stores Aren’t Immune From Rising Prices – Modern Love – No Longer My Mother’s Daughter – The Best Stylus for iPad, Surface and Samsung Tablets – The Saturday Essay: Who Won the U.S.-China Trade War?

The highlights of last week’s NEWS, for your convenience, just click on the feature to read.



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Singapore conduct financial dialogue Switzerland and Singapore and agree on joint statement of intent to promote data connectivity

Swiss Federal Council presents priorities for serving on the UN Security Council to the Foreign Affairs Committees


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Registration is open for the June 8-10, 2022 online WIPO Mediation and Arbitration Workshop!

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