the latest phenomenon in the fashion industry

The NFT world is arousing the interest of fashion and luxury professionals. Is NFT going to take the fashion industry by storm, or is it just a temporary fashion phenomenon?

2021 is the year for the NFTs, the non-fungible tokens, as young and
nerdy scary investors by combining cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Sales exploded in August, with speculators eager to jump on board. A craze driven by the corona crisis (when physical art was no longer available) and driven by the growing interest from the art world, sports and the media. Marvel has put several omnibuses up for sale, a collector has spent $ 600,000 buying the jpeg of an old rock, unpublished photographs of the young Kobe Bryant have been auctioned off through this process, and even the credit card company Visa has sold the picture of a virtual reality for $ 150,000. punk (a type of NFT). A work by artist Beeple was sold at Christie’s as NFT in March for $ 69.3 million. There are examples galore.

Interestingly, an NFT is a digital object that has been made non-fungible, i.e. unique and non-replaceable, thanks to blockchain technology. The virtual object, whatever it may be (an image, a video, a gif, or even a computer code), then acquires an original and authentic character, as its ownership can be verified and proven. A unique image, recognized as the original model, then acquires the character of a work of art. So the importance for the owner of an NFT is to show a social status (in the same way as one shows an original painting in his house or in a fund in his name: to show an original cryptopunk on the cover photo of his twitter feed is such a sign of wealth) and / or appreciation of a speculative good.

To some skeptics, this fashion is nothing more than a lottery and a bubble that will soon burst. Other collectors, on the other hand, are committed to simplifying this practice and making it available to the public very soon. “In five to ten years, platforms like Instagram will allow the posting of NFTs. These works will become means of communication: If Gucci offers NFTs to an influencer, those who follow him will want to buy Gucci,” predicts collector Nikola Niksic, quoted by France info. The difficulty is that you need to be familiar with the technology, have an online wallet, inject cryptocurrencies into it, and connect to a dedicated sales site. We are currently more in one the world of the nerd than in a traditional collector’s world.

The fashion industry and especially the luxury sector, where exclusivity is an important prerequisite, has well understood the interest in NFTs. Both as a means of communication and as a new way of offering new services to the customer. Gucci, a pioneer in this field (the brand had already started marketing digital products) presented its first NFT in the form of a digital work of art representing a metaphorical universe of a galloping horse. This NFT had a starting bid of $ 20,000 to be paid in Ethereum. Rimowa inaugurated its first NFT collection by collaborating with design studio Nuova to create four pieces inspired by aircraft furniture. Entitled “Blueprints for the Metaverse”, the series consists of physical goods transformed into digital works of art.

In June, Valentino inaugurated a digital art exhibition in NFT format, based on the work of British artist Matthew Stone. Finally, to conclude this series of examples, the giant Louis Vuitton is back. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the founder, the suitcase manufacturer has launched “Louis: The Game”, a video game that integrates thirty NFTs. In the game, Vivienne, the company’s mascot, goes in search of the 200 birthday candles along a path that revolves around six worlds. The French luxury brand wants to forge a bond with the next generation ultra connected consumers. A breakthrough in line with Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke’s philosophy, which states: “The best way to attract people to our brand is through the media they love”. A big investment in the future, that is.

Ethics and transparency versus a big CO2 footprint?

Another possible use of NFTs is sustainable development. With this technology, luxury and fashion can ethically enter a new decade of transparency and authentication. The customer would be able to track the history of all transactions, from design to repair of the product. NFT will also enable the customer to insure his product or extend his warranty and more generally to strengthen the bond between a luxury home and its customer thanks to a secure technology. DressX, founded in July 2020 by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, offers virtual clothing that can be worn digitally by its users for photos and videos: The company has partnered with NFT to increase the purchase of digital assets. One of the main arguments of both companies is to reduce pollution through virtual consumption. The problem is that the technology uses a lot of power. The CO2 footprint of NFTs is therefore significant. In short: a technology full of promises, but also full of paradoxes.

This article first appeared on FashionUnited.FR, then translated and edited into Dutch by Ilona Fonteijn.

Photos: Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Gucci

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