“People like to play with something they could never wear in the real world,” Ms. Shapovalova said. “Play” being the key word.
Right now, the Metaverse is both a place where you can be recognizable as you (sort of) IRL, and a place where you can be transformed into your dream self. This is the ultimate opportunity for disguise and a potential minefield of unintended self-disclosure. Just because a virtual space is free from some real-life limitations doesn’t mean it’s free from the preconceptions that everyone brings to character analysis.
In fact, in the absence of other clues, such as profession, a virtual space makes clothing even more important. In the Metaverse, “what you wear becomes your visual identity,” Ms Greene said. The shredded jeans and crop top or the iridescent sci-fi priest robes or the trademark hoodie can be all the users your avatar interacts with know you – and therefore the first signals of shared likes.
Which can lead, as Mr. Rogers pointed out, to “tribalism,” just as they do in the real world.
If the two worlds become more contiguous – if, as Mr. Chalmers put it, they become worlds in which we “coexist” – “I think the way we use clothes to express our identity will be more comparable to clothes that we wear in real life”. he said.
But Paula Sello, co-founder of Auroboros, hopes the trend goes the other way, and that the creativity of dressing for the metaverse spills over and encourages more creative dressing in the physical world.
What does all that mean? Boldly go where Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t gone before. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it doesn’t matter. Clothing, as Amber Jae Slooten, co-founder of The Fabricator said, “affects how you feel about yourself.” Even in the virtual world. And that, Mr. Rogers said, may have “implications that we haven’t even begun to grasp yet.”
“How do you separate your bodily self from your pseudonymous self? ” He asked. “Can you?”