When a 166-year-old iconic apparel and accessories brand enters the metaverse with a splash worthy of New York Fashion Week, it’s a signal that fashion may be shifting towards virtual commerce.

Burberry’s new in-game experience for Minecraft: Burberry: Freedom to Go Beyond, allows players to wander a mythical London populated with Burberry-themed characters and motifs. In-game players will have access to 15 free skins to download.

“As the player, you venture into an alternate reality version of London taken over by a malevolent entity called the Nexus,” according to Cristina Anderca writing for Minecraft.net. “Once a place blooming with foliage and gentle animals, this land has been drained of color and life. Its inhabitants have been scattered to the four realms of air, water, fire and earth, and your quest is to restore the spirit of the wild by traveling to each realm, reviving its Nature Guardian, and freeing the animals trapped there.”

This is the third collaboration between the fashion brand and a metaverse or gaming entity: the brand also offered virtual handbags on Roblox earlier this year. In 2021 and again this year, Burberry partnered with Mythical Games launch an NFT collection for its Blankos Block Party, the company’s flagship release. 

Burberry: Freedom to Go Beyond is also available in New York, Shenzhen, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Taiwan, and Bangkok in addition to online. There is also ESG goodwill involved in the launch. According to the press release, “Burberry and Minecraft will make a donation to help protect 500,000 trees and plant 25,000 trees through environmental organization Conservation International and their forest conservation efforts around the world.”

Burberry’s New Partnership With Minecraft Shows The Company Is Serious About Metaverse Commerce

The metaverse’s value to fashion companies like Burberry isn’t just about brand recognition. Consumers who interact with brands in virtual spaces are also providing valuable data to marketers and platforms about their content and entertainment preferences: the more time they spend connected, the easier it is for marketers to find out which types of content sparks their engagement.

According to Burberry’s director of channel innovation and marketing, Phillip Henneche—who spoke with Vogue Business—Burberry now sees gaming spaces as an important customer engagement channel.

“Gaming is a super important channel for us in terms of how we engage our customer,” Hennche says. “We know that it’s a very important passion point for our target markets and consumers. We know that they are there, they are present, and they’re very active in that community.”

But Burberry may also see gaming platforms as a way to open new revenue streams, not just engagement. According to estimates by Morgan Stanley, the market for virtual luxury goods may reach $50 billion by 2030. In-game sales also offer brands like Burberry a way to sell to high-intent consumers at scale without the expense of a physical storefront or having to dip into traditional ad spend. According to Bloomberg, with high margins and no need to discount or manage overstock, fashion brands can glean significant profits from virtual swag that consumers will snap up almost immediately. According to Forbes, Burberry quickly sold out its NFT collection for a cool $400k.

Watch the DLC trailer here.