Suddenly everyone is talking about the metaverse.
It’s this imaginary place in cyberspace that doesn’t actually exist and perhaps no one yet fully understands. A place where consumers (hopefully one day soon) can shop, learn new things, work, buy real estate, experience the latest in entertainment and even exercise. Sounds complicated — and hectic.
So Alo Yoga — the Los Angeles-based yoga lifestyle brand, which sells men’s and women’s activewear, outerwear, apparel, accessories and beauty products under the “air, land and ocean” ethos — is trying something new.
Starting today, shoppers can enter a virtual Alo Yoga Sanctuary in the metaverse by way of online gaming platform Roblox and an avatar donning Alo products. Once there, the virtual alter ego can unwind with some yoga and meditation.
“We’re actually asking you to tune out,” Angelic Vendette, vice president and head of marketing at Alo Yoga, told WWD in an exclusive interview. “In the metaverse, you’re consistently activated and there is so much going on. All of these different experiences are continuing to run [in the background] and you’re activated by all senses. What we’re doing with Alo is completely different. We’re asking you to take a moment to truly lean into your mindfulness, to your mental health and take a moment for yourself to breathe, to meditate, to take yoga. So your senses are not going off, trying to run and jump, and trying to run through hoops to do something. We’re actually asking you to take the time for yourself.”
With fewer overhead costs and an easy platform for brands to test run new products without actually making them IRL, the metaverse is a very attractive place. Hence the reason other fashion brands, such as Ralph Lauren and Gucci, have already begun to experiment in the 3D cyber world with product placements and the chance for shoppers to purchase digital fashion for their avatars.
“In the metaverse you have your digital identity,” said Christina Wootton, vice president of global brand partnerships at Roblox. “It’s so important how you express yourself, whether it’s through digital fashion or virtual beauty, or things like that. Brands really see this opportunity to engage with their audiences, even have it be a two-way conversation where they can create together, collaborate together, get that real-time feedback.”
Last year on Roblox, for example, one in five Gen Z users — the platform’s fastest-growing cohort — updated their avatar daily.
“So we see people really caring about what they look like and getting really trendy [fashion] items,” Wootton said. “We imagine that on Roblox you can do anything as the technology evolves. There are no limitations into what you can do or create.”
Alo isn’t looking to capitalize off the space, at least not yet. While other firms offer users the chance to obtain items on the platform by way of Robux, a virtual currency that can be purchased with actual money, products in the virtual Alo Yoga store are not for sale. They can be acquired only by way of experiences, namely, completing yoga classes and meditation sessions.
“This is our first foray into the metaverse; it’s also our first foray into digital fashion,” Vendette explained. “Right now, we’re not focused on selling digital fashion and that is not in the plan to sell digital clothing. We’re not in that space right now. But we do want folks to be able to experience Alo, whether it’s in real life or in the metaverse, and everything that Alo encompasses. So, whether that’s taking a class, taking a moment to breathe in, or wearing Alo. And the digital fashion is just a token of appreciation for them focusing on themselves.”
The move is on brand for Alo. The Los Angeles-based company set up various Alo Houses in Southern California last year, complete with reiki healers, masseuses, ice skating rinks and wellness bars, all free for Alo friends and family who want to spread the gospel of wellness. There’s also the newly opened Alo Yoga recording studio in the company’s HQ. Danny Harris, who cofounded the business in 2007 with Marco DeGeorge, told WWD that Alo doesn’t charge people who use the studios to produce wellness-type music and other recordings. The goal is to simply extend the message of health and wellness on a larger platform.
“Our mission at Alo is to bring mind-body wellness to the world and we are so excited to bring this to the metaverse with Roblox,” Harris said. “This first-of-a-kind partnership deepens our long-standing commitment to supporting the mental and overall health of the global community at large.”
As part of the initiative, Alo Gives (Alo Yoga’s 501c nonprofit foundation) will donate to mental health initiatives every time a user completes a meditation session.
Meanwhile, in the Alo x Roblox universe, users are transported to “an expansive island landscape that lives and feels and breathes all things Alo,” said Vendette said, where they can tour various parts of the world with meditative and soothing bath sounds playing in the background, stop to take yoga classes by way of Alo Moves sessions playing in the yoga tent, or have their avatars practice their best downward dog or warrior poses.
Kirat Randhawa will lead guided meditations online, as well as during the brand’s in-person Alo Sanctuary, which will take place at Spring Studios in Manhattan from Feb. 12 to 14, during New York Fashion Week.
“So what you’re experiencing on the metaverse will come to life in person at New York Fashion Week,” Vendette explained.
While the Alo x Roblox partnership only lasts through the end of the month, Vendette said there’s a chance Alo will continue its stay in the metaverse, regardless of the platform.
“We want to reach users where they are,” she said. “And the consumers and the folks who are spending more time in the metaverse and spending more time on Roblox, we still want to interact with them.”
For now though, yoga fans and fashionistas alike have access to five Alo Yoga pieces on Roblox, a mix of apparel and accessories. After completing a guided meditation session, users can unlock an Alo Renown crewneck pullover. Or, after completing a meditation session for five days, users unlock an Alo G.O.A.T. jacket, and so on.
“We do think that the metaverse is the future as to how we relate to our larger global community and, of course, as to how it ties to our mission and purpose,” Vendette said. “We think this is the right time to start dipping our toes into the space.”