Facebook owner Meta Platforms is launching a digital clothing store where users can purchase designer outfits for their avatars, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced.
Virtual outfits designed by high-end fashion brands Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne will initially be available for purchase, said Zuckerberg, speaking in a live video stream with Instagram's head of fashion.
In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said the digital goods will be "an important way to express yourself in the metaverse and a big driver of the creative economy".
"I'm excited to add more brands and bring this to VR soon too. Eva Chen [the director of fashion partnerships at Instagram] and I tried out some of the new looks from Balenciaga, Prada, and Thom Browne – a change of pace from my terry cloth sweater."
A Meta spokesperson said they would be priced between US$2.99 and US$8.99 - much, much less than their designs in real life. Prada's Matinee ostrich leather bag, for example, sells for $10,700.
Zuckerberg said he hoped to build the store into an open marketplace where developers can create and sell a wide array of digital clothes.
Avatars have emerged as a way for Meta to link user identities across Facebook, Instagram and its other services, as it increasingly ties the platforms together and steers toward building an immersive 'metaverse' of shared, interconnected digital worlds where users can gather.
Users of the company's virtual reality headsets set up avatars to play video games, take exercise classes and participate in conference calls, although initially the digital outfits will be available only on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, Meta said in a statement.
The company redesigned its virtual reality avatars last year to be more expressive and three-dimensional, then made them available on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger starting in January.
The good news for those who don't want to have to pay for virtual clothes is there will remain a selection of free clothing options for avatars.
The Meta avatars store is due to start rolling out this week, initially in the United States, Canada, Thailand and Mexico before a wider launch, reports said. No date has yet been provided for when Kiwis will be able to buy a virtual designer handbag.
The company plans to introduce new brands for the store soon, it said.
Reuters / Newshub