“For me the metaverse means freedom,” says Idiat Shiole, a Nigerian virtual fashion designer, “I say that because I’m Muslim. When I worked as a fashion illustrator for most fashion houses, their first impression of me was normally ‘won’t this lady just draw Islamic dresses for us or can she even draw?’ But in the metaverse, nobody cares who you are, they only care what you can do. I just wanted to do what I love without being oppressed.”
In 2018, Idiat Shiole, stumbled on a software called marvelous designer to help her create locomotive 3D models and fabrics. At first she had become a virtual fashion designer only because she didn’t want to find a job after graduating with a degree in Fine and Applied Arts from the Lautech University in Nigeria.
As a designer working between the fashion and gaming industry, Shiole has amassed a huge clientele both locally and internationally. She started her brand, Hadeeart Atelier in order to create print fashion wear and items for gaming clients like Decentraland and fashion and also working with fashion brands like Spatial and OKC to create virtual versions of their clothings and collections, and host virtual fashion shows. She has also collaborated with big names like Fabricant, the first virtual fashion house on their Season 0 collection. She’s currently working on The Hacedor, a virtual fashion gallery metaverse with a collaborative team.
Shiole’s designs are aesthetically Nigerian and are partly a representation of her—Hijab models, tribalmarked models, braided models.
Even though the metaverse is a relatively new concept, everywhere including Africa, Shiole is part of a handful of African virtual designers making digital outfits in preparation for the metaverse.
What is the metaverse and how valuable will it actually be?
Defining the metaverse is not an easy task. Tech futurist, Cathy Hackl who is regarded as the ‘Godmother of the metaverse’ defines the metaverse as “further convergence of our physical and digital lives.” The metaverse is a virtual space that isn’t just parallel to the physical world but is made up of different worlds where users interact with each other by using their avatars. From the comfort of anywhere, these users can dress for a fashion show, go on adventurous dates, take on jobs, and even shop just by using the virtual reality (VR) headset.