Then, Now, Next: Looking ahead to 2023. Placemaking between the physical and digital

Megan Hotson


The metaverse is making it harder to separate the virtual from every day. Though it may still be in its initial phases - young and volatile, brands have a unique opportunity to pioneer in a new era of media, advertising, retail, and design.

How can brands ‘place-make’ between the blurred boundaries where physical and digital meet? 

Phygital commerce

Earlier this year – both H&M and Vogue business embraced the metaverse to create cinematic retail experiences that can reach a mass audience. 

H&M created a virtual showroom exhibiting their collections as photorealistic, 3D-rendered cloth simulations. The brand’s virtual realm offered its visitors the chance to experience campaigns and collections in a new and profound way. 


This venture also allowed H&M to easily build and maintain different relationships with media, celebrities, influencers, and stylists – reinforcing the value to be found in leaning into the metaverse by having an extension of their physical showrooms located across the world.



Vogue Business is another brand that has capitalised on placemaking in the Metaverse. In collaboration with Yahoo, they curated their Metaverse Experience. The result? A digitally unique, island-situated virtual summit comprised of visually exciting landscape and users own-created avatars. Here delegates can network and learn from experts. 

Vogue business are one of many brands in their sector exploring fashion’s new terrain to innovate and stay relevant to engage with today’s meta-consumer. 


Leading the wave of early adopters, APAC countries are bringing the metaverse into the public realm. 

Seoul’s metropolitan government is developing a 3.9 billion metaverse platform, making the integration of the next evolution of the internet widespread. This innovation will allow citizens to access public services virtually.

Citizens of Seoul will be able to meet with avatar versions of officials to make complaints, or deal with civil consultations. This civic venture comes as the Mayor of Seoul explains that the metaverse will allow Seoul to become “a city of coexistence, a global leader, a safe city, and a future emotional city”.

Virtual worlds are fast becoming a fundamental element of omnichannel ecosystems– welcoming in a new era of overlapping reality. By linking virtual activity to real-world rewards, citizens can embrace their co-existence in two different worlds.

TOO Takeaways:

-    The Metaverse is not just an opportunity to virtually innovate your brand’s offering – it is also a viable way to strengthen or extend your community. Opening new lines of communication and creating a new place to network will strengthen your brands reach, and influence. 

-    You might have a well-established flagship which provides your customers with an engaging physical experience – but what about a virtual realm that allows you to extend your offering, and reach to a mass audience? If you want to keep pace in the Metaverse it is worth considering, how could you design a world online to help futureproof your brand.

-    A successful digital world needs to have the legacy of real-world destinations. Brands need to cultivate community and belonging if they are to achieve and encourage placemaking in virtual worlds. 

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