Egyptians venture further into the metaverse and NFTs

As more people live out their lives in the virtual reality space that is the metaverse, we’re seeing everything from fashion and art to music and entertainment take on a digital form. The trend has been ongoing for the past couple of years and Egyptians are jumping on board, taking their creations and brands to the metaverse and immersing themselves in the futuristic commercial space.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Hit up our explainers on NFTs and the metaverse (here and here) before jumping back into this story.

Egypt’s Christine Massarany Designs is participating in the inaugural Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW), marking the first Egyptian brand and Middle Eastern startup to attend the virtual affair, according to a press release (pdf). Christine Massarany Designs (CM Designs) is a luxury, semi-couture fashion brand out of Egypt created by wife and husband co-founders Christine Massarany and Rami Ashraf, with Massarany acting as the creative and design force behind the brand. The label will sell their designs as physical clothing pieces as well as NFTs which would allow avatars to wear them in the digital world.

What will Metaverse Fashion Week look like? MVFW is set to kick off on 24 March in metaverse platform Decentraland, with dozens of global brands and thousands of visitors able to virtually experience fashion shows, attend live music sessions at branded after parties, and buy and wear digital clothing directly from catwalk avatars. There will also be showrooms, stores, talks and events during the four-day virtual event. Since the project was announced in late December, more brands have expressed interest than Decentraland has capacity to host, according to Vogue Business.

How did they manage to do it? After keeping track of everything happening in the NFT space, Ashraf decided that he wanted to be the first fashion brand from Egypt to venture into the metaverse, he told Enterprise. After emailing several people from the NFT scene he found from articles, he came across MVFW. CM Designs teamed up with Boson Protocol, a decentralized e-commerce network to turn their designs into digital assets and help with all the other tech aspects that need to be taken care of, including creating 3D items and creating a payment system.

CM Designs will have a store in the metaverse where shoppers can explore the items and buy either the digital or physical clothing. Physical pieces will be delivered to buyers’ doorsteps while other designs will only be available as NFTs. The store — which is part of Boson’s land plots in Decentraland — will be kept open for a couple of months after the MVFW finishes, Ashraf told us.

The price tag isn’t too steep, but it isn’t cheap either, Ashraf said, but declined to give us an exact price. Still, Ashraf believes that the venture is worth it, telling us that he believes that the metaverse is “the future of retail.” Participating in such an event would also be an investment in the brand and its ability to harness the current technological trends.

The timing seems right as the NFT fashion space is booming: In general, NFT trading grew 21k% in 2021 to reach a value of USD 17.6 bn. Over the next few years, 10-15% of our wardrobes could become digital, industry experts have suggested, as people spend more time in digital worlds. There is also a benefit in moving away from the environmental impact that comes with overproduction in the physical fashion industry as keeping clothes in the metaverse eliminates the need to produce fabric, run factories or ship materials all over the world. Forever21 and Nike are among the brands that are piling into digital retail, creating multi-storey virtual world stores that you can visit with your avatar to buy digital clothing with virtual currency.

While CM Designs is a pioneer in fashion, Egyptian artists have already dipped their toes into NFTs in recent months: The first NFT project out of Egypt that was widely covered was Aya Tarek’s exhibition, Token. The exhibit saw the digital artwork sold on UAE NFT marketplace NFTY Arabia, which is powered by NIFTY Souq.

And more has been happening… Myth of the 99 is the latest NFT project to land in our inboxes. Created by Egyptian contemporary artist Dina Fahmy El Rouby, Myth of the 99 includes 99 paintings that correspond to the 99 horses that appear in Greek Mythology, according to a press release (pdf). Each piece is unique with its own name and story, and will be sold as a separate NFT that includes the digital artwork. Myth of the 99 will also take place through a physical solo exhibition in May at CLEG Gallery in Cairo, with informative talks on the topic of NFTs and how the regional art community can dive into the world of Web 3.0.