Creating Space for Mental Health Challenges in the Metaverse – WWD

LONDON – Is there room for compassion in the metaverse?

Simon Whitehouse thinks so. The fashion executive and founder of a creative collective called EBIT believes the metaverse can function as an oasis for people with mental health issues, a safe, non-commercial space to connect, learn and create.

“My utopian vision is that Web3.0 will be a force for good, a platform for social justice, and a means for people with mental health issues, people who may be too sick to meet physically, can have a life,” Whitehouse said.

He thinks 3.0 can offer a different narrative, one that’s not just about the pursuit of profit, but a way to improve people’s lives by focusing on positive communication and tackling cyberbullying, online grooming and bullying. harassment.

Whitehouse has already put his idea to the test with two NFT projects in the past six months.

Last December, he unveiled a digital and NFT project called “Yellow Trip Road,” a game-style journey intended to help users connect with the mental health issues many people will face in their lifetime.

Designed as an immersive, expansive reality experience, it asked viewers to follow a yellow brick road through bright and lovely landscapes, as well as dark and deserted ones.

One of the NFT “Bumper Jumpers” that sold during the Yellow Trip Road experience by EBIT.
Courtesy Image

After winding through surreal landscapes, the road led into outer space where everything seemed detached, senseless and out of reach. The trip eventually got better, ending with blue oceans and skies.

Whitehouse said the virtual trip was meant to elicit empathy and offer “a metaphor for those who suffer from mental health issues”.

There was also a retail element, with the success of NFT’s first “Yellow Trip Road” crop: the 300 limited-edition NFT “Bumper Jumpers” or sweatshirts, which sold out in 24 minutes. They cost 150 euros each and raised $50,000, with 10% of sales going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

EBIT stands for Enjoy Being in Transition, and Whitehouse said the plan is to harness the creativity of designers, musicians and artists and spark conversations about mental health. He describes EBIT as “an artistic prism” that will help people see mental health issues in a new light.

In accounting jargon, EBIT also means Earnings Before Interest and Taxes, but Whitehouse wanted to flip that definition and build a business that didn’t rely on “extreme capitalism.” He said he wanted EBIT to put purpose before profit.

Creating space for mental health

An NFT hybrid boot by EBIT. The shoes will soon be available on DressX.
Courtesy Image

Last month, EBIT released its second NFT project: the Spectrum of Footwear E010 range, which consists of 10 hybrid NFT styles.

Slingback sneaker mules morphed into flat-grain leather low-tops, then classic high-top sneakers before hybridizing into postmodern Chelsea boots, clogs, and wedges.

The idea is meant to reference how footwear and mental illness can exist across a broad spectrum and involve many different elements and nuances.

The shoe line was designed by hand and developed, marketed and sold entirely in 3D. NFTs launched via The Dematerialized on the Lukso blockchain. The styles will launch on DressX in July, allowing people to wear life-size digital versions on social media or during video calls.

Approximately 10% of sales will go to the National Autistic Society charity.

EBIT is Whitehouse’s personal business and passion project. In 2021, he was appointed CEO of Eco-Age, the consulting, marketing and communications company that seeks to promote sustainability and the circular economy.

Creating space for mental health

An NFT hybrid shoe by EBIT. The shoes will soon be available for purchase on DressX.
Courtesy Image

Whitehouse was previously CEO of creative agency Art Partner. Prior to that, he held the same role at JW Anderson from 2014 until late 2017.

He has also worked with labels such as Matthew Williamson, Diesel Black Gold and DKNY. Whitehouse was Global Sales and Brand Director of Diesel Black Gold for three years, and Global Commercial Director of Matthew Williamson for two years.

EBIT has also worked on cultural and musical projects, all focused on addressing mental health issues. Collaborators so far include M/M (Paris), Glen Luchford, Michel Gaubert, Soo Joo Park, DJ John Digweed and Wilson Oryema.

Whitehouse said that over the next six months, EBIT will once again focus on music, with exclusive sound compositions intended to stimulate the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine in listeners.

The ultimate goal of all projects is to telegraph a message to audiences and brands in the creative and communication industries. “You have a platform, use it to do something good,” Whitehouse said.

About Stephen Ewing

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