Last year, you may have seen an image circulating of Elon Musk from the 2018 Met Gala, wearing a pair of RTFKT Studios, ‘CYBERSNEAKERS.’ The shoes were designed to mirror Musk’s Cybertruck, with a futuristic, geometric design. But the thing is, Musk never actually wore the sneakers at all. It was a digital simulation applied to an existing image. RTFKT featured the sneakers on their Instagram, where they gained momentum, garnering thousands of likes. Though the shoes did not exist in the physical realm, they were a hot ticket item. SuperRare later featured the sneakers on the platform. All of this led to Nike purchasing RTFKT Studios in December 2021 and rebranding them as “Meta Platforms.”
Humans have this knack for creating fixations on particular ideas, topics, and assets within their given realities. The metaverse itself, with the evolution of Web3, is the ongoing manifestation (or manifest destiny) of a newly formed hyperreality, and rise in fashion NFTs might signal what’s next to come in virtual world economies.
If you’re new to the fashion NFT space, you’ll want to start by studying the emerging popular commodity known as “skins,” or items of digital apparel that users’ avatars can wear inside virtual spaces or games. Take for example WonderMine, located in the Decentraland virtual world, where users can craft digital apparel for their avatars. Utilizing a “Crafting Machine”, one can mint items like a steampunk mask or Meteor Chasing Trousers. Each skin is a limited edition, and to acquire one, you’ve got to attend a wearable crafting event. The window in which to purchase is often limited, increases the skin’s value.
Another form of wearables you might find appealing is a toga for a toga party in a metaverse nightclub, like the one held every Friday night at Flashrekt’s Temple of Beats in the MetaZoo. Your avatar can dance the night away to electronic music in a toga and receive an exclusive Proof of Attendance Protocol Token (POAP), with limited edition POAP drops. Such tokens resemble the collectability of a memorable moment and etch your presence at an event on to the blockchain in such a way that one day might be worth money – imagine selling a wristband from the first fully immersive virtual Woodstock-like event on a future web3 version of eBay.
For a generation embracing virtual identities and personalities, avatar digital wearables have become a popular form of ownership, a reflection of self rising to par with any physical world fashion choice or purchase. When a skin is also an NFT (and, in turn, transferable), however, it extends much further than that: Not only do they become digital reflections of identity in the metaverse but also tokenized tradable objects.” Some of the tendencies in this area of the metaverse reflect on the fashion world’s movements towards NFTs. Below are examples of these branding approaches presently underway.
Haute Couture Fashion and its Introduction to NFTs
This last fall, Dolce&Gabbana unveiled a historical debut NFT collection titled the “Collezione Genesi,” exclusively with UNXD, influenced by the seductive city of Venice. The 9-piece set, designed by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, brings historicity, authenticity, and museum-quality momentum to the NFT ecosystem. Each piece is unique, elegant, and thought-provoking.
These showcased items resemble something of individual works of art in themselves, and as a whole, a creative representation of what NFT fashions can develop into when the physical and the metaphysical meet as one. The couture collection, built on the Polygon network, sold for $5.65 million at auction by the end of September 2021. But Dolce&Gabbana is not the only fashion house stepping up their game.
NFT Fashion For the Cause
Jimmy Choo expanded not long ago into the realm of NFT and luxury fashion in a pair-up with New York-based artist Eric Haze. 8,888 “mystery boxes” were launched alongside a digital sneaker on the Binance NFT marketplace. The auction house winner of the shoes will also receive a physical hand-painted pair of sneakers. The boxes are divided into four categories: Jimmy Choo / Eric Haze LOVE Glitter, Super-rare cards, Rare cards, and Neutral cards. The categories themselves reflect the value in the scarcity of digital commodities. Each one is listed at 30 Binance USD, or $13,672 at the time of publishing. Any profits from the auction will go directly to the Jimmy Choo Foundation, which supports “Women for Women International,” an organization that assists female survivors of war.
Another example of fashion trends and charities breaking into the NFT experience can be seen in New York Fashion Week 2021. Female designer Rebecca Minkoff teamed up with Yahoo to raise funds on the digital marketplace The Dematerialised, producing 400 digital garments. The immersive NFT experience allows the user to explore a series of collaged images featuring the collection “I Love New York.” OpenSea hosted the NFT sale, which sold out in the peer-to-peer marketplace in 10 minutes.
The proceeds went to the Female Founder Collective, which gives grants to New York-based, female-owned businesses impacted by Covid-19. The fashion house has been known for its alternative branding, collaborating with platforms such as Clubhouse and OnlyFans in the past. However, this is the first of its kind pairing with Yahoo to create such an expansive charitable venture.
Digital Fashion in Pop Culture
For Art Week Miami 2021, the sustainable luxury brand MORPHEW launched its Genesis NFT Collection. MORPHEW bridges the gaps between the digital and the tangible in the collection, offering items adorned by Grimes, Doja Cat, Shakira, Madonna, and Selena Gomez. Each garment will exist within the sphere of both spaces simultaneously.
Brave New Couture
The purchasing power that we’ve instilled in the physical reality is seeping into our virtual identities through skins and NFTs. NFTs as fashion are not just another collectible form of commerce; they are reflections of our emerging faith in virtual communities and their distinctive cultures.
Alongside being expressions of personality and style, Fashion NFTs open the gate for POAPs, marking a moment in time eternally on the blockchain, a fashion statement of their own. With the emergence of augmented reality hardware, it’s possible we’ll see the technological and physical realms begin to merge in the near future, finding ourselves at home in a new infinite hyperreality. If we can take ourselves outside of what we know, into the realm of something new and yet to be understood, the possibilities are endless.