‘To the Verge’ had an enlightening conversation with Cesar Val, CEO & Co-founder of ‘ACT Global’ and Managing Partner of ‘CEVAL Consulting.’ He finds the luxury business fascinating and explores various of them for dynamic yet genuine value creation. Excited about the Metaverse, he has also jumped into the horizons of Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, Web3, and DeFi. Cesar wishes to converge luxury and emerging tech uniquely. Continue reading to explore his ideas.

About His Professional Journey

When asked about himself, his professional journey as a senior executive, and his entrepreneurship ventures, Cesar shared,

“I am a Luxury expert, C-Suite advisor, and international speaker with over 20 years of professional evolution, leading teams in global corporations between Europe and the Middle East. I enjoyed the first part of my career working in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods industry (FMCG); however, during my forthcoming professional challenges, I moved into the luxury market. I love luxury business models, as they can deliver extreme value creation. I founded my first company in Dubai in 2020 to help companies and executives to create additional value for their brands and expand their business into the Middle East.”

“Nowadays, I am the CEO and Co-founder of act global, the web3 division of Visual Latina Group (a leading company in commerce and shopper marketing). My business purpose is “building genuine relationships that generate value.” I have a never-stop-learning mindset, which drives me to become a Metaverse explorer: I started my journey in 2019 with Crypto and DeFi, but then I moved to explore Blockchain & Web3 technologies in their applications to the business. Luxury and fashion are leading the way, so for me, this was a perfect match.”

Devising Practical Strategies For Steady Brand Development

Cesar provides strategic consultancy to global luxury brands. He has a special perspective on how to support new entrepreneurs in luxury brand building.

“I have a very hands-on approach. I do not consider myself a consultant, but more a senior manager integrated as part of my client’s team. My customers are requesting support to expand their business into the Middle East: in that case, seizing the opportunity, building the right go-to-market, and finding the right local partners are critical tasks. I also have customers that ask for my support as an advisor and company ambassador. My reputation and experience, built on years as an international senior executive in corporations, are helping me to deliver new perspectives and directions. Finally, from my recent company venture, act Global, we give support to companies in their journey into the Metaverse, starting from training, then moving into strategy and execution.

Brands And Metaverse

Metaverse is one of the most hyped-up buzzwords in the tech world. As every industry is linked with technology, Cesar believes brands should take advantage of this amelioration.

“They need to capture this revolution if they want to remain relevant for the younger generations. Millennials and GenZ, the digital natives or early adopters, are they are now leading demographics in purchase power. With the evolution of the internet, the metaverse will be the dividing line between old and fresh brands; and this is not a question of company age but company mindset and adoption. Brands should move much beyond the transactional nature of consumers. The metaverse transformation is likely to have the same impact that digital social media had on Web2.0. Brands cannot ignore this disruption: they need to master new ways of connecting and engaging consumers (gaming is, somehow, the new social media arena for this younger generations; and virtual worlds built on blockchain are building a completely new way for brands to connect with consumers, taking co-creation and profit sharing to another level).”

Cesar reviews various brands playing their stakes with Metaverse in the following manner:

“Each brand is taking a different path and managing its own speed. But the overall luxury, beauty, and fashion industry is exploring the possibilities of extended reality tools, the use of gaming in engaging with younger consumers, and the role of NFTs on delivering utility to their shoppers.” 

“Gucci, for instance, is taking a radical “test and learn” approach, strongly connecting with the gaming community, launching NFTs, and being one of the first luxury players accepting cryptocurrency in physical stores. So does Balenciaga. Louis Vuitton partnered with League of Legends to dress their avatars in 2019, and in 2021 they launched their own game, ‘Louis the Game’, as a new way to deliver the storytelling of the Brand. Prada has just entered Discord and is launching NFTs as digital twins of their physical capsule collections. Lacoste launched a very well-developed NFTs collection, and Tiffany’s, a 185 years-old company, has just made an amazing drop of NFTs linked to a real jewel piece, targeting Cryptopunk´s Community. This is the perfect time to enter for any company: the moment to gain an advantage that might last.”

Thoughts on Brand-specific Metaverses

Terms like Burberry metaverse, Gucci metaverse, and so on are being heard often. However, there is a catch. Will luxury brands build their own metaverses, or will they all integrate to pave the way for an all-inclusive metaverse? Cesar has an interesting answer to this.

“Saying there are many metaverses is like saying there are ´many internets´. Same way, when a company is so-calling itself as “the” metaverse is like Google saying about itself that they are “the” internet. The metaverse is the envisioned end state, incorporating all digital worlds alongside the physical world, with seamless interoperability among them all. We are far from that point.”

“In the meantime, luxury houses are being present, one way or another, in few virtual words, while testing extended reality new-gen tools (animated 3D, AR, VR). Just to name a few examples of this presence, Gucci has collaborated with Animal Crossing Zepeto and Tenis Clash and right now has built a permanent space for the brand in Roblox (Gucci Town). D&G and Etro participated in the Metaverse Fashion Week at Decentraland. Balenciaga has dressed Fornite’s avatars, Burberry has done it in Honor of Kings, Ralph Lauren in Roblox, and Christian Louboutin in Zepeto. Gaming is not the metaverse; however, it is being critical on seeding the future metaverse.”

Metaverse Building Virtual Ground For Luxury Brands

“Luxury’s growing acknowledgment of the importance of the metaverse is in sharp contrast to how much the industry reacted in the early day of the internet and online shopping. The first reason is that Luxury is about generating memorable experiences, and the Metaverse is called to deliver this kind of immersive experience (Web2.0 e-comm is far from delivering a true luxury experience). Another reason is that Web3 technologies are offering a set of utilities that are quite close to the kind of attributes that a luxury brand demands: for high-end brands, scarcity is key, and well-developed NFTs drops offer this possibility.”

“Not only that, but NFTs are a great tool to build VIP communities and offer “By-Invitation-Only” (BIO) experiences, connecting with customers beyond physical stores. Lastly, the fact that blockchain secures the authenticity of the products while offering complete traceability is critical for luxury brands: it delivers trust and confidence, facilitating a trustful second-hand market as well. The preloved market for luxury items is on the rise (by DNA, they are high-value, long-lasting products). If we talk about luxury fashion, the link is even clearer: on the Metaverse, there is no limit to people’s self-expression and creators’ creativity.”

Can NFTs become an effective medium for brands to express themselves?

“Brands need to understand that NFTs are a new type of digital asset that people buy with different motivations. Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada’s future CEO, recently said, “Like social media, I don’t think that NFTs are good or bad, but they are a digital tool, and it depends on how you use them.” NFTs could be very powerful leverage for companies to connect and engage with their consumers and create communities. The key point is what kind of utility brands are delivering to their NFTs holders.”

“If a brand treats its NFT buyers like stockholders, it will not reach them emotionally, missing out on what Web3 is all about. If a brand is expecting their NFTs buyers to be fans like they used to be in Web 2.0, they are ignoring that these consumers invested in the brand and that they are now a shareholder of your brand. In the long run, it is about delivering ongoing incentives to the NFT owners.”

The rise of virtual fashion can lead to sustainability

Cesar is confident that virtual fashion can lead to sustainability. He is confident that virtual iterations by designers can reduce unnecessary wastage.

“The conversation around sustainability and digital fashion is evolving at a great pace. We expect digital fashion to solve a few of the problems that IRL (in-real-live) fashion still struggles with. There are already examples of utilizing digital fashion technology to transform the physical fashion business. Virtual sampling allows creators to try as many creative ideas as they need to iterate and develop them fully without worrying about material waste. The other great usage of blockchain technology is making full traceability of the whole manufacturing process of physical clothes, thanks to the creation of digital twins NFTs. This last possibility enhance transparency and facilitate the circular economy of the garments. Having said that, we could see the same process of virtual garments’ accumulation that we are now trying to minimize IRL: generating NFTs imply energy consumption as well.”

Ceval’s plan for contribution to the Metaverse

“The Metaverse is still in its early stages: we are watching it taking shape in real-time. Brands have today a golden opportunity to define what the metaverse will represent for them. Together with my partners at act Global, we love helping brands on this journey from discovery to implementation.”

Today, most companies are in the discovery phase: in that sense, we are running training for their teams and C-Levels: a way to lay the foundations for future discussion about how to integrate Web3 tools into the company strategy. The learning curve might include “test and learn” exercises. The final objective is to integrate these technologies into the strategy and monetize it smoothly. I advise companies to not “wait and see but”, but discover, learn, and start testing. And I am supporting a few of them during this process. Late adopting hurts more than it helps. Late adopters miss out on learnings and best partnership choices.”


Cesar views the Metaverse as an unwavering technological advancement. He believes, similar to the preceding waves of tech revolutions, brands must keep up with this one as well. According to him, though this new spectrum of the future is still in its infancy, brands should begin their discoveries and experimentation.

Thus, with what brand experts like Cesar believe and the already several initiatives taken by brands, we may witness a lot more integration of these two distinct industries. However, only the future will unfold about the extent of dependence of luxury and fashion on Metaverse and Web 3.

Guest Profile

Cesar Val is a Luxury expert, C-Suite advisor, international speaker, and professor at world-class Business Schools. He has 20 year of experience as a senior executive in top corporations, both in Europe and the Middle East. Until 2020 he was the head of Chalhoub Group’s JV, one of the Leading Luxury groups in the Middle East. He managed a beauty brand portfolio including, among others, Carolina Herrera, Paco Rabanne, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Prada, and Valentino. He is the founder of CEVAL Consulting, a consultancy firm in Dubai to help executives to expand their business into Europe and the Middle East. From 2022 he is CEO and Co-founder of act global, the web3 division of Visual Latina Group (a leading company in shopper marketing).

Cesar holds an Executive MBA from ESADE Business School, an Advanced Management Program (AMP) from IESE Business school, and postgraduate studies in Digital Transformation at MIT (IoT) and the Kellogg School of Management (AI / ML).

As a keynote speaker, he will be on stage in ten countries from three different continents this 2022.