- Puma debuted its first-ever metaverse experience, Black Station, which features NFTs that can be redeemed for limited-edition physical sneakers, according to a press release. The experience is part of the sports brand's "Futrograde" show during New York Fashion Week.
- Black Station includes a digital lobby space with three portals. The first two portals are accessible now and unveil the Nitro NFRNO and Nitro Fastroid sneakers which are linked to the brand's recent NFT Nitropass mint. Consumers who minted a Nitropass can receive two NFTs, one tied to physical products and one to a custom experience. Following the Futrograde show, minters can burn their product-claimed NFT and claim physical sneakers.
- The third portal serves as the entry point to the digital NYFW metaverse fashion show where visitors can view a digital adaptation of the show and interact with the collection's pieces. The experience speaks to how brands are connecting in-person events with digital ones via the emerging metaverse.
Puma is the latest brand in the retail fashion space to embrace the metaverse and related technologies. The Black Station experience links digital design to physical products via an NFT, showcasing a way that brands can use the tech to engage with consumers and enrich their experiences, as has been done by the likes of Prada and American Eagle. Its name revives a brand concept that revolved around high-end fashion.
"Given the boundaries we are pushing from a product design and digital standpoint, we found it fitting to bring Black Station back as a new portal for digital exploration across fashion, sport performance, our heritage classics, and innovation," said Adam Petrick, Puma's chief brand officer, in the press release.
In addition to giving real-world value to Puma's recent NFT release, Black Station allows the brand to extend the reach of NYFW beyond its physical location. The metaverse allows for a bridging of physical and digital spaces and has quickly become a popular way for marketers to activate around large-scale cultural events like NYFW. Similarly, brands including Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY in March participated in Metaverse Fashion Week.
Black Station was designed by creative ventures firm FTR and is built with Unreal Engine 5. Created by developer Epic Games, Unreal is a 3D creation tool that is used across games, film, architecture, fashion, automotive, music and live events, as well as Fortnite. The engine has been a popular tech for brands activating in the metaverse, and is at the heart of a collaboration between Epic Games and WPP.
The metaverse is expected to be worth $5 trillion by 2030, per a McKinsey report, making it a shiny penny during the last year for marketers of all stripes, but especially those in retail and fashion. In May, Gap launched a virtual, purchase-free experience in Club Roblox, while Gucci opened a persistent digital space on the platform. Such experiences seek to engage the younger consumers who have popularized such digital platforms but are more difficult to reach through traditional ad channels.