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Trends: fashioning virtual identities, why cringe is in, brands reconsider gender

Trends: fashioning virtual identities, why cringe is in, brands reconsider gender

Ideas on empowering consumers to shape their identities in virtual environments, we look at the end of embarrassment and the ascent of cringe, and we point to ways progressive companies are increasing sales by inverting gender performance archetypes. 

Every week the PSFK research team studies for weak signals of cultural change and marketing, brand and CX innovation – and we pour the patterns into our weekly newsletters on Thursdays. This week we share clusters of ideas on empowering consumers to shape their identities in virtual environments, we look at the end of embarrassment and the ascent of cringe, and we point to ways progressive companies are increasing sales by inverting gender performance archetypes. 

Shaping Consumer Identities With Virtual Assets 
Fashion, self-identity and self-expression have been intertwined throughout history. It is no surprise that as the world transitions to an increasingly hybrid mode of digital and physical engagement and experience, the fashion industry is one of the first sectors to embrace and define this new, metaverse and web3-powered reality, as well as be embraced by its users. In fact, exciting new research shows that consumer interest in customizing and dressing their virtual avatars and digital twins in the latest fashion and luxury clothes, NFT accessories, and trending beauty products is skyrocketing. 

Full-Body avatars are upgrading the metaverse experience
Photo-realistic, full body digital avatars from companies like Ready Player Me are allowing users to purchase and unlock exclusive NFT wearables plus other unique accessories across different metaverse platforms. Read More

Nike is taking over the metverse one direct-to-avatar sale at a time
As sports giant Nike calibrates its focus around driving new business with virtual products, the brand is expanding its direct-to-avatar sales approach through branded NFT merchandise in the Nikeland Roblox metaverse. Nike Digital, the division that includes the brand's web3 ventures, brings in more than a quarter of Nike’s total revenue. PSFK

Digital fashion's enfant terrible is Mason Rothschild
Mason Rothschild and Ericka del Rosario, creators of the controversial Metabirkin NFT collection, are bringing NFT culture to real life with their brick-and-mortar boutique, Terminal 27. The 3,000 square foot store, which most recently hosted a launch party for Amber Park's latest NFT drop, is becoming a social hangout and gathering place for the Metaverse and crypto communities to party and promote their newest digital fashion projects. Read More

Download Today: A PSFK Playbook for Fashioning Virtual identities
Discover 5 strategies for empowering individuals and consumers to shape their identities in metaverse environments, plus market statistics and insights into the changing consumer behaviors and expectations around inclusive practices into wearables and digital worlds. Details

PSFK's Guide for developing Virtual Asset & Metaverse Wearable product strategies to engage and activate new audiences.

*More Info on the PSFK Report* 

This Summer's Big Trend Is Embracing Your Cringe Self
Consumers are letting it all hang out this summer, earnestly embracing cringe behavior and riotous maximalism alike. An over-the-top aesthetic connects with consumers who just want to feel something, anything; and insider communities are giving consumers a sense of belonging. The tendency to continually survey oneself underpins the whole idea of being or feeling ‘cringe’, making it especially hard for people to feel like certain interests, hobbies, even lifestyles are valid. This era of self-censorship is over as consumers start to realize there is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed about what they like. There is, after all, a difference between finding yourself by earnestly enjoying what you like, even if it is “cringe,” and simply copying someone else's interests in the hope to “fit in” – which, regrettably, is rather lame. 

Cringe culture is actually “in” right now 
Dazed covers how the cultural landscape is in general shifting toward being more cringe, honest and passionate. The prior era of sardonic detachment, self-censoring inhibition, and toxically controlled self-perception is over; and exuberant bad taste is taking the reins to liberate us. Dazed

Dungeons & Dragons' resurgence shows It’s hip to be a nerd
For decades, playing D&D meant one thing: being an outcast. However the “tides of cool” have begun to shift. Streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch have opened up tabletop games to new audiences, and online forums have created new digital homes for RPG subcultures. Adult players are “finally finding their people.” NY Times

Welcome to the age of unapologetic in-your-face-ism
Time reports on the level of spectacle increasingly needed to jolt consumers out of their malaise. Nothing kills numbness like a sensory onslaught, and the cultural stigma that has always come with indulging in bad taste has disappeared. Everything is suddenly “bigger, brighter, louder, raunchier.” Trashy reality TV is surging on streaming platforms, hyperpop is the latest new sound, and designers are increasingly espousing ebullient maximalism. Time

Maybach's rebrand aims to shock
Mercedes-Benz is re-branding its Maybach division to focus on higher-end, higher-margin sales from the over-the-top luxury cars. Designed primarily for chauffeured trips, Maybachs come unabashedly cocooned in creature comforts and showcase the owner's wealth through their cartoonishly large size. The garish pizazz and outré design help the car appeal to younger, foreign buyers who make up the bulk of sales. Project Maybach

PSFK Consumer Insights Report

Finally, a free to download PSFK report! Our inaugural State of the Shopper survey is a 90-page consumer insights presentation developed specifically for business leaders highlighting the key needs and wants of today & tomorrow's mainstream shoppers.
Available to anyone who signs up for a free 2-week trial to PSFK iQ!


Brands You Love Looking Across The Fence
Gender differences and inequalities are more pronounced when gender is treated as task-relevant. Think: boy = hammer; girl = hairbrush. To properly consider all target audiences, brands are doing a little bit of genderbending themselves and flouting these outdated archetypes while espousing modern incongruences by matching their products and services to broader, human-level performance needs and inverting typical gender stereotypes.

Using Discord and the metaverse to talk skincare to men
Men's skincare brand Geologie has created a new Web3-centered marketing strategy to make skin care more approachable for the online gamer audience, and men more broadly. In the Geologie Galaxie metaverse, users can learn about the “Retinol King,” “Day Cream Lord” and “Twin Face Wash Magi,” while the brand provides one-on-one support through their Discord server. Geologie

Nike reaffirms focus on winning with women
The future for Nike is female. The athletics retailer is simplifying its leggings and bra strategies, and emphasizing deeper inclusion through size data and representation as it looks ahead to the next 50 years by winning with women. The retailer doesn’t really have catching up to do, it’s been at the forefront of the space for some time. It’s staying there that’s important. Nike

Etsy turns its attention to an underserved audience: men
In a craft and hobby world dominated by women, men are underserved. 79% of Etsy sellers are women, and the platform is focused on better understanding and marketing to male buyers, for whom the Etsy shop just doesn't come to mind when searching for or selling handmade products. Etsy Earnings Call

Marketing trail-blazer Joy Howard aims for gender-equality outdoors
The one-time Patagonia and Sonos executive has launched the first nine-piece collection from her new outdoors-influenced label, Early Majority. The brand's multi-functional, modular pieces are designed for all types of wear; with an explicit focus on enhancing the activities of all genders. Early Majority

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