NFTs and virtual social spaces are transforming digital fashion, but the ones driving the changes are the designers. In our Designer Spotlight series, we interview the aspiring designers to share their backgrounds as well as their perspectives on metaverse wearables.
Nico Fara is an NYC-based web3 strategist, executive consultant, engineer and serial entrepreneur with deep expertise in the retail and tech industries. Nico shares her story, why she’s in digital fashion, and what she sees is missing in the virtual fashion ecosystem.
M&W: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on?
Nico: I’m the founder of The Fashion DAO, a consortium of Web3 fashion experts looking to support responsible adoption of Web3 technologies in the industry and facilitate collaboration and co-creation among the community. I am also the founder and CEO of Chief Metaverse Officer, a SaaS company and consultancy advising leading brands on web3 and metaverse presence, and additionally founder and CEO of Queendom, a metaverse platform empowering women and LGBTQ people to participate in web3. I’m an engineer by training—I have a master's degree in electrical engineering—and I always loved physics and math, and solving problems.
M&W: Why digital fashion? Could you tell us about how you entered the world of digital fashion?
Nico: I have always been a fashion lover as it’s a great tool to express ourselves with; however, I felt guilty knowing that most fashion purchases end up in landfills. So, I combined my tech background and network as an engineer with my passion for fashion and founded a company focused on reducing returns using virtual try on, size recommendation and style recommendation software solutions. As the pandemic hit, the retailers we were in contact with started realizing the importance of virtual stores and showcasing their products in digital fashion. Our technology was very much overlapping this area so we started pivoting our focus to enhance customer experience in more immersive environments, or the so-called metaverse.
As we researched the market and spoke to many fashion brands and retailers, especially the luxury ones, we saw a gap for aesthetically pleasing and accessible metaverse platforms where the brand image is kept or enhanced and also the barriers to entry to access these new technologies are removed. That’s what we started building to offer this technology as a tool to fashion brands and designers to showcase their amazing digital fashion creations in an immersive engaging environment rather than just images and videos on social media.
M&W: What motivated you to start FashionDAO? What are the DAO’s features?
Nico: Like I said, we started focusing on empowering designers and brands to enter the metaverse and use these technologies to solve for the industry’s challenges like sustainability and supply chain transparency.As these technologies are new and evolving fast, education is a crucial component to onboarding and empowering these designers and brands. So, I started hosting calls where we, the fashion enthusiasts and experts in the web3 space, shared our knowledge and experience with others. After a few months, we noticed that we have organically created a community that has so much power and potential and I decided to take the initiative of taking this community to the next level by adding more organization and turning it to a structured DAO.
It’s a decentralized organization: we democratize culture, economy, power and tech. We also use web3 technologies to make it more autonomous and efficient.
We researched other DAOs in the space and learnt how to do better, so we have amazing values like Diversity and Inclusion, Accountability, Transparency, Sustainability and many more that define how we as a community make decisions. We have several objectives like educating and onboarding more designers and brands to utilize the web3 technologies and get empowered, providing them support by offering resources and connections and many more that could evolve as the community grows.
M&W: In addition to FashionDAO, you also founded Chief Metaverse Officer and Queendom. Can you tell us about a typical day in your life? How do you balance working on these three projects?
Nico: It’s like managing multiple kids! For Chief Metaverse Officer, I’m spending most of my time hiring and onboarding. But right now, building The Fashion DAO requires a good amount of my attention. In setting up a DAO, I’m pleasantly surprised by the relationships I’ve made—the people I’ve met are really friendly and passionate, talented, and helpful. Something that’s been challenging is working with anonymity, or pseudonymity— We are used to validating someone’s credentials and experience based on their resume or LinkedIn, before assigning tasks to or collaborating with them. Now with blockchain and the option for anonymity, we need new ways to build that trust and we are working on solutions to that.
M&W: Where do you see the future of virtual fashion going? Is there anything missing, in your view?
Nico: More and more interactions are already happening virtually—like online meetings and conferences. If there is a better and more engaging alternative to communicate online, then people will start using it. And once people are more engaged in online interactions, digital fashion purchases will happen. What’s missing right now is interoperability—the ability for one NFT or one article of virtual clothing to be equally wearable in all metaverse platforms. This is an issue that won’t be solved by one single project or one single startup, but will be a collaborative effort.
To learn more about Nico and her work, check out the links below.