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How virtual functionalities could address some sustainable targets? 

Sustainability and Metaverse


Every other Wednesday, h/commerce provides in-depth analysis of the most impactful trends reshaping retail.

We are increasingly concerned about carbon emissions, the constant consumption of goods, the generation of waste and residues etc. This gives rise to new dimensions and ways to promote sustainability.

When we talk about the cutting-edge topic of virtual functionalities such as metaverse or NFTs (non-fungible tokens), we often refer to the complexity of their origin and how deeply they might revolutionise the world around us today. It is true that these functionalities will almost completely displace us into a virtual life, and this can sometimes generate controversy.

However, virtual features such as metaverse, NFT or even social commerce also holds the promise of substantially reducing carbon emissions by replacing physical goods and services with digital ones.

In the fashion world, for example, there are more and more innovations implementing virtual features to reach some of their sustainability goals.

On their side, brick-and-mortar retail stores have always had problems regarding environmental footprint they generate when producing or distributing their products. The creation of virtual shops in 3D spaces is a good way to begin to greatly reduce harmful emissions, and it is also an option that allows the brand to be creative and innovative. This way, stores will be much closer to the customer because they will be at their fingertips.

The supply chain will also benefit from these technological transformations.

For more and more offers in the commerce industry, technology is now fully implemented in in their ecosystems.

Commerce, and especially the fashion industry, move towards sustainability through virtual functionalities

3D digital assets play a crucial role in the fashion industry in terms of meeting sustainable goals. By being able to make 3D products available to consumers, the production of items is greatly reduced, and the number of resources needed to develop collections is minimized.

Some initiatives such as those of DressX or Fabricant brands reached some good results. By becoming 100% digital, they are saving 346,698 litres of water per year or 2,525 kg CO2.

Many other initiatives are showing how brands are reducing their impact on the planet resorting to virtual features:

  • Tommy Hilfiger left paper behind to switch to digital designing

The well-known fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger has gone completely paperless when it comes to its designs. The house has changed its designing process from sketching on paper to 3D design technology incorporated into all global apparel design teams at Tommy Hilfiger’s headquarters. The brand has already achieved this goal for its Spring 2022 campaign.


  • Guerlain commits to sustainability in France through NFT

Guerlain shows its commitment to the environment by launching a NFT collection dedicated to the protection of biodiversity. On 19 April, a collection of 1828 NFTs called “Reaverse” was put on sale to embody values in favor of the planet. This sale is carried out to support the rewilding of 28 hectares of nature reserve in the Vallée de la Millière, led by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

The project receives the name of “In the name of Beauty” and symbolically coincides with the anniversary of the brand. This is not the brand’s first sustainable action. Guerlain is adapting its new tools to become “future proof”.

  •  Diane von Furstenberg and her change from 2D to 3D

For its part, the Belgian-American designer’s firm has also started doing sustainable actions through digital transformations. It has changed the design of its products from 2D to 3D design, which means that it is possible to notice faults in the products or in their manufacture before they are sent to production.

The firm is working on new website features that would allow consumers to modify products to their own tastes (in terms of size or colours) to limit mass production of items.

  • Carrefour bets on transparency by using blockchain tech

Carrefour provides its consumers with more transparency by using blockchain technology on its own organic products. The origin of organic products is a matter of concern for consumers, who demand qualitative products that meet expectations. This is not always the case. 

Consumers will be able to access all product information by scanning the QR-code on its label. This way, they will know the origin of the product, its quality and get a document certifying that the product is indeed organic.

The retailer is the first to apply this technology to its own-brand organic products.

Why is it interesting?


More and more brands are committed to sustainability in their digital actions. Online stores reduce environmental impact and can create a more inclusive and accessible experience for shoppers. We observe a clear trend towards the inclusion of 3D in business practices and the establishment of 100% virtual shops.

The use of technology, in addition to improving the consumer experience, is also a way to contribute to the environment.

Considering that digital can also cause environmental damage, there is still much to do in order to get fully sustainable, but technology can be used to develop more virtuous business models.

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Mikaela Barbosa

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