Fashion Goes Virtual With NFTs

By GMO Research

Fashion and NFT

Fashion always centers on the latest trend. Of late, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been growing as one of the most frequently discussed digital trends—especially with the rise of the Metaverse. Seeing the potential of NFTs as a new channel for growth and profits, some industries are adopting this rising trend — the fashion industry being one of them.

From luxury brands, such as Gucci and Prada, to iconic activewear names, such as Adidas and Nike, many brands in the fashion industry have explored NFT drops, with some even specialising in releasing virtual products, such as the brand RTFKT.

Launched during the pandemic, RTFKT was acquired by Nike at the end of 2021. Known to create unique digital sneakers, the new brand, selling its NFTs for up to US$10,000, caught the eye of the sporting brand giant, leading to its acquisition at an undisclosed sum. RTFKT was acquired at about the same time Nike ventured into the Metaverse, with its creation of Nikeland, a virtual space on the popular platform Roblox. This indicated the brand’s plans and seriousness to capitalise on the Metaverse. Nikeland had allowed users to purchase and virtually dress their avatars in Nike exclusives. It also served as a platform for the brand to uniquely test consumers’ responses to its products.

The adoption of NFTs in the fashion industry is not just limited to the more “hip” brands. Luxury brands have also moved with the times, with Gucci taking the lead among its competitors. However, instead of launching a product-based NFT, Gucci launched a video clip known as Aria, which featured a post-COVID clubbing experience. The brand’s first NFT sold for US$ 25,000 last year, and Gucci had proceeded to collaborate with other digital brands, such as Superplastic, to launch a SuperGucci NFT collection.

Recently, Prada announced that it was dropping 100 NFTs for free as part of the Cassius Hirst Timecapsule initiative for customers who purchased their physical goods. The NFT collection has been designed as a “corresponding supplement” to a series of unisex black or white shirts launched earlier in 2019. The NFT will function as a digital record and include a unique code linked to each shirt. However, this was not the Italian luxury brand’s first approach in the NFT realm, as the brand had previously partnered with Adidas to release a successful NFT collection. Prada’s effort to deploy a two-pronged strategy enhances its products’ exclusivity while allowing the brand to capitalise on its physical and digital brandings.

The trend of fashion brands venturing into NFT trends is unique, considering that the fashion industry has been known to simply be more physical in its trend adoptions, especially amongst the luxury names. When it comes to the NFT trend, the fashion industry appears to have a better uptake compared to some other sectors, with many brands now dropping new NFT collections and collaborating with established digital names to enhance their online presence.

COVID-19 significantly pushed the fashion industry beyond its comfort zones as the pandemic impacted business. As such, brand names had to be quick to recalibrate their approaches, with the NFT trend being one in which many saw potential. While it is yet to be seen if the NFT trend in the fashion industry will continue to flourish, it appears that this particular trend will not fade anytime soon.

This article was first published in the Q3 2022 edition of Asia Research Media

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