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L’Oréal Is Among New Investors in Metaverse Developer Digital Village

In a fashionable vote of confidence for the metaverse and Web3, L’Oréal’s venture capital fund BOLD and the British Fashion Council are among participants in a $4 million funding round for French metaverse developer Digital Village.

The Venture Reality Fund, Venrex and others also invested in Digital Village, billed as a “technology platform” devoted to emerging virtual worlds.

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“The company revolutionizes commerce and community engagement by equipping brands and creators with the tools to build captivating, immersive virtual experiences in the metaverse,” according to an announcement shared first with WWD. “The funding will be used to enhance the platform’s capabilities, adding new tools to power 3D world development, advanced avatar customization and virtual store creation to enable brands and creators to deliver unparalleled, immersive virtual experiences.”

According to Evelyn Mora, founder and chief executive officer of Digital Village, technology is enabling “the next evolution of retail.”

Instead of ho-hum solo shopping on a brand’s website, Digital Village wants consumers to “visit a 3D virtual world and come together for social experiences where brands can engage…in a more meaningful way.”

In her view, virtual fashion, art and culture represent a “massive opportunity in what will be the largest disruption for commerce since the emergence of e-commerce platforms.”

L’Oréal seems to agree as it explores what beauty means in the Web3 world.

“We seek to work with the most promising start-ups who adhere to the highest possible visual and technical standards,” said Camille Kroely, chief metaverse and Web3 officer at L’Oréal. “We are excited to be partnering with Digital Village, whose solutions will be powerful enablers for our brands and whose ideals of sustainability, accessibility and interoperability in the metaverse or Web3 are ones we share.”

Last year, L’Oréal partnered with cross-game avatar platform Ready Player Me to bring an array of gaming-inspired hair and makeup looks to the metaverse under the Maybelline New York and L’Oréal Professionnel brands.

But this marks the beauty giant’s first venture capital investment in the metaverse and Web3 space.

Established in 2018, the Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development fund, or BOLD, has invested in a range of disruptive start-ups including French biotech firm Microphyt, Sparty Inc., a Japanese firm focused on personalized beauty, and temporary tattoo-maker Prinker Korea Inc.

Marco DeMiroz, cofounder and general partner at the Venture Reality Fund, noted that it is expensive and time-consuming to develop and manage virtual worlds, avatars and digital assets.

“There is no simple end-to-end solution for virtual experiences as brands and creators have come to expect from e-commerce and website builder platforms,” said DeMiroz, while noting that Digital Village’s model “solves this by providing robust, aesthetically advanced templates so that anyone can create accessible and interoperable immersive experiences.”

Mora is a tech entrepreneur and the sustainability guru behind Helsinki Fashion Week. She is now focused on the emerging alternative online world where avatars can own or rent land, test out sustainable construction methods, visit digital stores and museums, trade digital fashions and artworks and even mount ad campaigns.

Digital Village has already created virtual worlds for the likes of United Nations and WWD, which last year conscripted the firm to create a gallery, storefronts and meeting spaces for various conferences and events.

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