Culture converges with blockchain as luxury fashion brands launch NFT collections

It is no surprise that NFT (nonfungible tokens) are dominating the crypto market. This booming digital asset class has generated more than $2.5 billion in sales in the first six months 2021. It is proving to be a huge financial win for brands, artists, and content creators around the world.

As the world moves closer to augmented reality, the rise of metaverses is also having an impact on NFT adoption. NFTs further demonstrate the convergence of technology and culture, which is in turn having an impact on many mainstream industries.

Promoting culture and communities

The luxury fashion industry, which is worth millions of dollars, has begun to take note of NFTs. Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo and Dolce & Gabbana have launched NFT collections. Rebecca Minkoff, a female designer, was the first to showcase an NFT collection at New York Fashion Week 2021.

Megan Kaspar is the managing director of Magnetic Capital. She’s also a member of Red DAO, a fashion-focused autonomous decentralized organization.

“The global fashion industry was one of the most important industries in the world. It generated $2.5 trillion annually in global revenues before the pandemic. Red DAO’s thesis on digital NFT fashion suggests that global revenues could double due to digitization and new capabilities.

Kaspar said that NFTs in fashion are still an early concept. However, Kaspar pointed out that physical fashion has its limitations. She pointed out, for example, that luxury fashion items will always be valued at a secondary market, but the value of a product decreases over time.

Digital fashion pieces will still be available, and they have the potential to go up in value if they’re highly sought-after. Kaspar said that digital NFT fashion pieces are also possible to be worn virtually, as she demonstrated recently during a video interview in which she donned virtual NFT earnings and other accessories.

Kaspar also noted that digital items, unlike tangible fashion pieces can be used to retain clients and increase community engagement. Kaspar noted that high-end designers have limited interaction with consumers. “NFTs can also be used to redeem physical products or unlock future fashion drops. They can also give access to private events.” Kaspar added that designers will be able communicate with customers via digital wallets almost as easily as email.

Kaspar is aware that these applications are still early days, but she believes that more brands will soon create NFTs in order to reap the benefits. It is notable, however, that NFTs have been demonstrated by a few luxury and haute couture fashion brands.

Source: UNXD, Dolce & Gabbana

Shashi Menon is the Dubai-based publisher and CEO of Vogue Arabia. He also founded and runs UNXD, a curator and creator platform that created all digital assets for Dolce & Gabbana’s nine-piece NFT Collection. Cointelegraph was told by Shashi that his team approached Dolce & Gabbana directly in April with the idea to launch an NFT collection.

Menon said that the opportunity was contextualized in light of his knowledge of both the luxury fashion industry and crypto-world. He said, “We have been involved in both for many years and believe we can offer a unique perspective.” Menon believes the story of NFTs and fashion does not revolve around technology, but culture. He said that fashion and NFTs both are “ultimate forms of cultural expression.”

Although culture is the most important element of a brand’s identity, blockchain technology plays an essential role in ensuring that NFTs have the unique advantages of immutability, provenance, and other benefits. Menon explained, for example, that Dolce & Gabbana’s NFT collection (known as “Collezione Genesi”) was historic for a variety of reasons.

“There is deep provenance. Here, one of the most recognizable luxury brands created its first NFT collection. It was also personally designed by the founders/namesake designer. The collection was also extremely rare, with only nine pieces. These items were created once, and they will never be produced again.”

Menon said that the workmanship and materials used to create the physical creations was exceptional, which meant that much time was spent creating the digital artwork. To achieve a photo-realistic result, we focused on the finer points of texturing, fabrics and lighting to create a stunning effect. He noted that the suits and dresses featured Swarovski crystals and Murano glass, while the crowns were made from silver and plated with gold and palladium and featured gorgeous rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.

Dolce & Gabbana designed the Gold Glass Dress NFT. Source: UNXD, Dolce & Gabbana

The virtual experience that digital fashion pieces can offer is one of the greatest benefits. Menon elaborated:

Genesis holders have the unique opportunity to bridge the physical and digital worlds. We provide digital utility via metaverse wearables and physical utility with products to create a truly unique result.

The concept is still futuristic but sales were very impressive. Dolce & Gabbana, which announced the sale of the NFT nine-piece collection on Sept. 30, said that it had also sold some couture pieces for 1,885.719 Ether, or nearly $5.7 Million at the time.

Kaspar stated that Red DAO won “The Doge Crown” auction. This also included a physical copy. Red DAO sold for 423.5ETH, or $1.27million at the time. Red DAO also won two “Impossible Jackets”, which were purely digital, increasing its total expenditure to almost $1.9 million.

Dolce & Gabbana designed “The Doge Crown”. Source: UNXD, Dolce & Gabbana

Kaspar explained that winning the “Doge Crown” was an exciting moment in Red DAO’s history, as the rank of “Doge”, which is an elected head, has its roots in Italy. This, along with the Dogecoin crossover, is Kaspar’s explanation. Kaspar said that a number celebrities have reached out to them to request the Dogecoin crown for upcoming events.

Jimmy Choo, a luxury fashion accessories brand, has launched an NFT initiative with Eric Haze in New York. The collection includes 8,888 mystery boxes that can be purchased, which underpins the theme of collectability.

Jimmy Choo x Eric Haze Mystery Box. Source: Ucollex

A digital version of the sneaker, which was produced for this collection, has been made available for bidding via the Binance platform. The Jimmy Choo Foundation will donate all proceeds to “Women for Women International”, an organization that assists female war survivors.

Robert Tran, CEO at Ucollex, the NFT platform behind Jimmy Choo’s launch, told Cointelegraph that the sneaker NFT rotating in front of a canvas with Haze’s signature script only exists digitally. The auction’s highest bidder will receive a limited edition hand-painted sneaker.

Tran said that the collaboration is true to the theme culture and added that it blends fashion and art with street culture evolution in an experimental meeting between creative minds from different cultures.

The collaboration is strong on the notion of collectability, as demonstrated by the limited edition “[email protected]”, which sold out its first day. The brand was able to join the NFT conversation at the right time, amplifying Eric Haze’s creativity in New York and Jimmy Choo’s designs as digital collectibles talking with a new audience. This fusion of digital and physical will continue to gain influence.”

Are fashion NFTs ready for mainstream?

Digital fashion is still in its early stages, although there are many benefits. Industry experts predict that fashion NFTs, as social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok invest in metaverse capabilities will become more common.

Tran, for instance, pointed out that metaverses were already being introduced to mainstream via remote work meetings. He believes mass adoption of NFT is possible. The day will come when fashion shows can be done digitally, and the rights to those elements displayed on the screen are sold and bought for digital use.

Chasing stars Auction: Jimmy Choo x Eric Haze Source: Ucollex

Menon said that although these concepts might not be applicable to everyone today, they will soon become the norm. Menon pointed out that fashion companies and other businesses who are interested in continuity will be creating NFTs for their customers moving forward. Menon stated that Dolce & Gabbana will soon launch its own NFT community called “DGFamily” to encourage community engagement.

Education is still necessary

Kaspar said that it is safe to assume that more brands will create NFTs in order to remain relevant. However, she also pointed out that there is a trend in which fashion designers and brands are jumping on the NFT bandwagon to grab a share of the market. She believes brands don’t fully appreciate the potential of wearable digital fashion or the wide range of features NFTs offer.

Kaspar shared, for instance, that digitizing luxury fashion can have a disruptive effect on decentralized finance smart contract use. Kaspar said that these items could be used as collateral in smart contracts. This is what this technology offers.

Kaspar noted that fashion NFTs are still in their infancy. He said that there is an educational component to this opportunity. “I have fashion companies calling me to find out how I can get involved. Dolce & Gabbana’s progressive approach is a model for others.

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