Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) offer new ways for consumers to collect, wear and trade fashion online, and now that most fashion shows have scaled back or gone virtual, they may become an important tool for the industry.
Because some of the most profitable NFTs are produced by celebrities with teams, it makes sense that music corporations, fashion brands and designers are venturing into the NFT market as well. Just this month, sneaker brand RTFKT Studios garnered $3.1 million in seven minutes by selling crypto collectibles. In December 2020, NFT startup Enjin partnered with Netherlands-based fashion house The Fabricant on a virtual collection. Real-life fashion brands use NFTs for marketing in virtual worlds like Minecraft, plus several Atari and Microsoft video games.
The fundamental value NFTs offer to bridge virtual fashion items with video games is the option to secure custody of the item for use in other games or mobile apps.
“Brands are coming up with some creative solutions because the pandemic is persistent, and fashion is something that is so close to our identities,” said Bryana Kortendick, Enjin’s VP of operations and communications. “You can snap a photo of yourself wearing your Atari-branded NFTs. You’ll also be able to wear them in video games.”
Breakout NFT star Beeple said he imagines a future where fashion NFTs could be redeemed for specific items in physical stores, especially at luxury retailers like his former client Louis Vuitton.
“You can relate NFTs to clothing in new and interesting ways,” he said. “This will be seen as the next chapter of digital art history. This is a continuation of digital art history that started decades ago, by that I mean art made on a computer and distributed through the internet.”
Fashion designers like Schirin Negahbani are already creating NFTs that represent actual clothing. Precisely because multimillion-dollar NFT sales are breaking records, spectators have been prompted to question the role speculative trading plays in this trend.
Textile designer Amber J. Dickinson says fashionable NFTs shouldn’t primarily be viewed as speculative trading opportunities. “The way I think fashion translates to the digital world is to view an NFT as a collectible piece of the garment for history,” said Dickinson, known for hand-made silk scarves and her work with Alexander McQueen. “I would only buy art as a piece that I liked. Whether digital or in the real world, I don’t take an investor’s point of view.”
There are many fashion fans who disagree with Dickinson, preferring to invest through assets like Birkin bags. They may have a different approach to NFTs. The DIGITALAX crypto fashion platform, for example, is being built with a plethora of trading features. As for Dickinson, she said she is still looking for her tribe of crypto-savvy artists on Twitter.