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Innovation, Technology, UX & Technology, UX Design, Virtual Reality

NFTs: The Developing Relationship Between Fashion and Tech

Over the past few years, the world has been becoming  evermore digital and taken a big step toward the future. Things such as art, music, and photography have all taken steps towards digitalisation, so why not the fashion world? For the first article in our FashionXTech miniseries, we’ll be taking a look at how fashion has done just that, with the sudden creation of NFTs  – and don’t worry if you’re not sure what these actually are, we’ll explain it all!

What are NFTs?

NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’. They are one-of-a-kind digital files, and they can be anything from art, photos, music, videos, – pretty much anything that is digital. These are stored online through blockchain technology, making it easy to know who owns the NFT as all transactions are transparent. Every action regarding the NFT is visible: purchases, offers, and timelines. Basically, the owner of the NFT is the owner of the artwork. Though it can still be copied, it is very easy to see who owns the original digital file. 

NFTs and the Fashion World

With the NFT market constantly growing, of course it only makes sense for those in the fashion industry to want to join in. Right now, it’s ‘digital clothes’ that are being sold. Those purchasing digital clothes might still want to wear them, but they can only do this in virtual realities. An example of this is the Metaverse, where characters can visit different stores and purchase items of their choosing. Several high-fashion brands have entered this space, and we can only expect more to join. For example:

Nike

Nike entered the NFT space in April 2022, when they released their first collection of virtual sneakers. These were called Dunk Genesis Cryptokicks and Nike released 20,000 NFTs. For most sneakers, customers were paying between $4000 to $9500, but one of them actually ended up selling for $134,000! To be able to do this, Nike had previously bought RTFKT, a sneaker and digital artifacts company. With this, we are sure even more virtual sneakers will come from Nike in the future.


Balmain x Barbie

Another company to enter this market was the fashion house Balmain. They worked with Barbie to create a collection of both NFTs and physical items, such as accessories and t-shirts. Three different barbie dolls were dressed in Balmain outfits, all pink from head to toe. These were then auctioned out as NFTs. Whoever bought the Barbie dolls also received the physical Balmain outfit in a Barbie doll size.

Burberry x Blankos

Burberry joined the NFT space by partnering with a multiplayer game Blankos Block Party. In the game, the players’ characters are vinyl figures, so Burberry took to designing their own ones for this collection. In 2021, Burberry released a limited edition figure called Sharky B, along with accessories that anyone could purchase. 750 Sharky B’s went up for sale and they sold out in less than 30 seconds, proving that luxury fashion has its own spot in the gaming industry. This summer, Burberry announced their second contribution to the game, Minny B. A unicorn figure dressed in an orange Burberry monogram print. Players who already owned a Sharky B would also receive a free bucket hat from the new collection. This has proven to be wildly successful, and Burberry will most likely continue evolving in the gaming space and bring together digital fashion and the gaming world.

Dolce and Gabbana x UNXD

High fashion house Dolce and Gabbana also released a collection, although slightly different from other fashion houses. They released a number of virtual couture pieces accompanied with a few physical ones. The collection is called Collezione Genesi and they created this together with UNXD, a marketplace for digital culture. This is a nine-piece collection of NFTs, including three physical couture garments, as well as two physical crowns, that were all hand-made. In total, the collection sold for almost $5.7 million. 

NFTs space within fashion has only just begun. Major high-end brands have already entered the space and I am sure we can soon see many more. There are so many different ways to get into the NFT world and these four examples alone have shown us that there are no rules on what to create and how to do it. It will be interesting to see if, one day, high-street fashion brands make their way into the NFT space, or if this will stay for high-fashion only. 

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