How fashion brands are using blockchain and NFT technology

Ahen American artist Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days sold for $69.3 million at Christie’s in London in March, the art world held its breath. Digital works associated with an NFT token, a non-fungible token that digitally protects the rights to the work, have been around for a long time, but Everydays has reached an all-time high. Christie’s was the first auction house to open up to the crypto market – and started a transformation that is also affecting the fashion industry.

Just as Christie’s pioneered the art business, fashion brands and luxury conglomerates have embraced new digital markets by leveraging blockchain and NFT technology. It may be a revolution that will change the fashion industry forever. Because labels can now offer digital fashion themselves, based on NFT technologies. And big brands can use digital technologies to create transparency in production and sales processes.

A collection entirely moved on the Internet

The RTFKT label from Paris shows how this abstract technology works. Artist Eugal Odrani, illustrator Brock Hofer and animator Eric Leforet have joined forces in RTFKT. The three founders come from the gamer scene and are therefore atypical fashion designers. Your designs only exist in the digital sphere. RTFKT manufactures, among other things, NFT sneakers, digital designer sneakers encrypted by NFT technology. A file and a drawing form a single piece. In just seven minutes after launch, they sold such a collection of NFT sneakers, around 600 pairs of virtual shoes, for over $3.1 million. To do this, they work with fashion labels like the small Parisian brand Crypto, which has designed a digital sneaker. Jackets, shirts, pants and accessories are also in preparation, ie a collection entirely relocated on the Internet.

What about the shoes you can't wear?  They could be a good investment.

What about the shoes you can’t wear? They could be a good investment.

Image: Reuters

In April, the virtual fashion brand sold a digital jacket using NFT tokens for over $100,000. The label is decentralized. Although RTFKT has an office in Paris, the designs are created in cooperation with artists, graphic designers and programmers from all over the world. The story of NFT tags is just beginning.

Our I stretches across the digital sphere

In 2019, The Manufacturer was founded in Amsterdam. Earlier in June, Gucci auctioned a four-minute music video inspired by the Fall/Winter 2021 “Aria” collection at Christie’s: offered for 20,000, sold for $25,000 – a record for such a video file. Dolce & Gabbana designed a sneaker with NBA star PJ Tucker and is collaborating with digital platform UNDX on a full NFT collection. The manufacturer also partnered with Buffalo London to design a platform sneaker that was sold on the Async Art blockchain platform.

RTFKT's Alience Carapace Shiny sneaker is available both digitally and in real life.

RTFKT’s Alience Carapace Shiny sneaker is available both digitally and in real life.

Image: Reuters

Unlike analog fashion, sneakers are offered in “NFT layers”, the composition and colors are variable. Five components can be added, three design options are available. It’s not just about owning collectibles, but also about collective creativity, the creators say. “Collecting is a basic human need, even in the digital age. Today we collect files, including fashion items,” RTFKT said. “Some NFTs can be used in games, for example, as fashion pieces for avatars. Our selves and what defines our fashion industry are growing through the digital sphere.

Blockchain for more sustainability

On a different scale is the “Aura” blockchain consortium, founded in April by LVMH, Prada, Cartier and Richemont. The project aims to find solutions for the fashion industry of the future. Joint development of software and hardware should save money and create synergies. The German Daniela Ott has been leading the consortium based in Paris and Geneva since this year. “Fashion and luxury overlap with other cultural areas – games, pop music or art,” says Ott. The first result: the “Aura” blockchain, with which customers can understand supply chains and digitally secure their clothes, bags and watches. “We want to show clearly how the digital world can develop fashion. It’s not just about collecting, but also about the experience that comes with it.

Information about the production process, the origin of processed materials and certificates of authenticity are stored in the “Aura” blockchain. This means that counterfeiting, which is very common in luxury fashion, can be identified digitally. Companies like LVMH spend millions of dollars a year on lawsuits and lawyers for copyright infringement and smuggling crimes. It is also about understanding the history of the product. NFT solutions for “Aura” members are also to be programmed. We are talking about cooperation with other brands. “We want to give transparency to customers and help make the fashion industry safer and fairer,” says Ott.

The LVMH group in particular, which set up a blockchain team in 2018, promoted the common technology. Consortium members have equal rights and decide for themselves what information is made available to customers via blockchain technology. “Cooperation is necessary to meet the challenges of the digital age”, says Daniela Ott. Blockchain is an opportunity to build trust and contribute to more sustainability.

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