Gucci is raising the curtain on Gucci Town, a virtual piazza in the landscape of Roblox.
Gucci Town is a permanent destination that interacts with the codes of the house and expresses creative director Alessando Michele’s vision. This follows on the heels of several other immersive experiences from the brand, including Gucci Garden in May 2021.
“We’ve been experimenting with Roblox for years now and in May, 2021, we unveiled the first Gucci-themed immersive experience: Gucci Garden. For two weeks only, visitors had the chance to wander in a virtual counterpart of the Archetypes exhibition in Florence. Part of the success of that experience — which gained 20 million visitors and was recently awarded with a Webby Award — was its ability to build a sense of community around the brand on Roblox, thanks to our partnership with up-and-coming content creators and Gucci’s virtual goods instantly becoming signifiers of belonging to a group of users with shared values,” said Nicolas Oudinot, EVP of new businesses at Gucci and Gucci Vault CEO.
“It is a place to reunite with like-minded individuals sharing a passion for self-expression, and to set up open dialogues between them and Gucci,” he said.
Gucci Town features a slew of activities that will evolve through time. Visitors walking from the central piazza to Mini Game Heights will find a portal transporting them to an arena of Gucci-inspired competitions, such as Tile Takeover or Flashlight Tag. Heading into Creative Corner, they can discover the works of a visiting artist and be inspired to create compositions of their own.
Within the virtual Vault Plaza, community members will find an exhibition space inspired by the conversations started within Vault, the house’s experimental concept store. Conceived as its virtual counterpart on Roblox, it will showcase some of Gucci’s latest product drops and collaborations. Around the bend is the Gucci Shop, a boutique where visitors can purchase digital Gucci items to collect or to outfit Roblox avatars, including the new archive-inspired Gucci Blondie bags designed by Michele and limited-edition collectibles. The digital fashion items make the most of the recently launched Roblox “Layered Clothing” technology for hyper-realistic 3D garments that fit any avatar body type.
According to Christina Wootton, VP of global partnerships at Roblox, the “Layered Clothing” technology closely mimics the way apparel fits and drapes in the real world. Shirts, dresses, sweaters, jackets, pants and shoes created with Layered Clothing can now also be worn in layers that affect and interact with each other in lifelike ways and are crafted with the precision of Hollywood CGI (computer-generated imagery). “The clothing instantaneously responds to infinite combination of body parts, movements and virtual worlds on Roblox. This technology was created to empower digital fashion designers to take their creative expression to the next level and enable limitless self-expression for people within the metaverse,” said Wootton.
The last piece is Power-up Place, a café where community members can take a break and come together with friends to meet and interact with others. As visitors immerse themselves in the various activities within Gucci Town, they are rewarded with the GG Gems, the in-experience currency they can use to purchase power-ups (an object in a video game that instantly adds to the life, armor, strength or score of a player), as well as virtual Gucci items. Each space within Gucci Town will be updated regularly with new content in conversation with the house’s trajectory into the future.
Products and content were developed with independent content creators from the Roblox community such as Rook Vanguard, Bunnexh and Lirn.
Vault serves as a meeting place and its constantly changing offering includes a curation of vintage Gucci pieces alongside exclusive capsule collections, limited-edition styles and other items from a selection of brands. Web3-based initiatives including NFTs are also on the platform’s virtual shelves as objects from different eras with diverse origins.
Asked what excites Gucci about the metaverse, Oudinot told WWD, “As the metaverse continues to be defined and despite the different meanings that the concept has, we all agree it is a medium making our online interactions more varied, customized and immersive. Inclusivity is a key value to make this possible. In that sense, it is built on an adjacent community to fashion. The function of fashion has always been first and foremost symbolic, empowering individuals to express themselves and project their identities. In a digital environment based on users’ co-presence, there’s a wellspring of opportunities for those sharing our mind-set, as aesthetic is crucial for individuals to create their digital persona, reflecting their taste, their ambitions and their visual horizons far beyond the limitation of the physical world.”
In discussing whom they are aiming Gucci Town toward, Oudinot said, “Gucci Town is first and foremost a virtual piazza, opening its doors to the entire Roblox community. It’s a place inviting its visitors to have a shared virtual experience which can be explored to find inspirations and entertainment in different forms, suitable for a varied audience. Our focus is primarily on building something meaningful, amplifying the voices of talents within the community. This allows us to translate Alessandro Michele’s universe in unexpected ways, adding elements to the multidisciplinary and inclusive approach the brand is now renowned for.”
Wootton said Gucci is the first luxury fashion brand to create a persistent experience on Roblox and utilize the platform as its immersive 3D social channel, building and creating a community it can engage all year long.
Gucci Town is the brand’s fifth collaboration with Roblox. The first step on the platform was commissioning virtual items to its community designers Rook Vanguard and cSapphire, she said. Then there was the Gucci Garden experience open for two weeks in May 2021, and the first-of-its-kind “Achille Lauro Superstar” experience earlier this year, as well as a collaboration with the British Fashion Council on The Fashion Awards.
According to Wootton, more than 50 million people gather daily on Roblox to socialize, create, play, learn, share adventures and expand friendships. She noted that one in five of Roblox’s daily active users updated their avatar on any given day in 2021, expressing themselves through body shapes, sizes, a variety of skin tones, accessories and clothing. “This avatar then becomes a digital extension of the user and empowers them to be whoever they want to be in the metaverse, on Roblox,” said Wootton.
Wootton said they are seeing more and more brands setting up a permanent presence on Roblox to engage new and existing audiences. She said that’s because they are learning that people in the Roblox community want to engage with their favorite brands, artists and celebrities all the time, not just when they have something to offer — similar to other social channels.
Last December, Tommy Hilfiger partnered with eight user-generated content designers from the Roblox community to create and promote a Tommy x Roblox Creators collection, and Ralph Lauren created a Winter Escape holiday-themed experience on Roblox that featured Virtual Polo Shops where users could style their avatars and make purchases. Nike has also worked with Roblox to create Nikeland, patterned after its world headquarters. Companies like Alo Yoga and Forever 21 have entered the metaverse with Roblox, as well.
This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.