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Ralph Lauren’s ‘ Phygital ’ Boot Sale shows the benefits of Physical and Digital Commerce

With Ralph Lauren launching the Polo P-Wing Boot, a physical shoe modeled after a digital Ralph Lauren garment sold inside a virtual world. This is an example of how brands are increasingly experimenting in XR (eXtended Reality) as a product testing and commerce channel — while still determining how to connect the virtual and the physical worlds in meaningful ways to increase opportunities.

When Ralph Lauren launched a collection of in-game outfits and items inside Fortnite a year ago the total price of all of Ralph Lauren’s in-game cosmetics was about $20.  Now, the physical Polo P-Wing Boot sells for $250. With the company only manufacturing 200 boots, the Ralph Lauren chief innovation officer David Lauren said “ The goal is to make the boots available for just a few minutes and sell out quickly to people who are engaged and have a good experience.”

To support the boot sale, Ralph Lauren is also opening a custom-branded experience named “ Race to Greatness by Polo Ralph Lauren ”.  Designed in Unreal Editor for Fortnite by the development studio Beyond Creative, the virtual island includes a range of fun locations based on Ralph Lauren runway shows and other intellectual properties.  With the virtual boot being a focal point, Beyond Creative CEO Kasper Weber said “ We have it displayed in a really cool way and that players are amazed when they first see it, plus are able to walk around to examine it and see all the details – virtually. The display is located in the P-Wing Building with the shoe in the middle of it.”

The “ phygital ” boot release represents an unprecedented mix between the brand’s virtual and physical options with Fortnite players able to wear the boot on their physical bodies while also wearing it in-game inside a custom virtual environment built from the ground up with the Ralph Lauren brand.

The rise of virtual and in-game commerce opens up new opportunities for product testing for fashion brands. In recent years, brands such as Forever 21 have released items in XR platforms (ie: Roblox ) in order to gauge their potential performance physically. One such item, a virtual beanie hat was purchased by Roblox users over 1.5 million times before Forever 21 adapted it for a physical release.

Another example of connecting the virtual and physical worlds is Nike and Puma taking advantage of sneakerheads’ natural affinity for collectibles and cutting-edge tech – to expand their virtual commerce opportunities.  And with the release of Ralph Lauren’s Polo P-Wing Boot, this is another example of an established fashion brand valuing the input and preferences of the virtual consumer.

While Ralph Lauren’s latest foray into XR certainly draws connections between the physical and virtual worlds, it represents more of a stepping stone on the path of marrying virtual and physical commerce. For now, while the physical boot is available for purchase exclusively via,  gamers can’t make the purchase directly through “Fortnite ” (even if they already own the in-game version of the shoe). This will change as commerce expands inside a game with the “ phygital ” item becoming an opportunity for brands to develop a new sales channel. “ If you want to meet your consumer any where they are, you should be offering the same items, both virtually and physically, and have them connected.” said Justin Hochberg, CEO and founder of Virtual Brands Group, the company behind Forever 21’s virtual presence. “ Further, if you want to use it as a marketing funnel that actually connects with your consumer, that’s what you need to do. Otherwise, it’s simply another way of creating a billboard.”

Based on the experiences to-date and the significant potential, Ralph Lauren recognizes the need to continue innovating and creating new opportunities to attract Customers and engaging with them to increase relevance and revenue – by enabling people to purchase items through physical as well as virtual outlets, directly through games, and by various virtual platforms. “ Ultimately, we want to do anything and everything that’s authentic to our brand and our Partners (ie: Fortnite) – so people have a choice of acquiring items in the virtual or real world or by connecting the two environments.” Lauren said.

Aug 3, 2023  by  Alexander Lee / CAIL     905-940-9000