Amber Jae Slooten, co-founder of The Fabricant, a digital fashion house, says the really fun part of NFTs is in going beyond the physical. “I wouldn’t want to encourage brands to simply copy their physical items,” she says. “I would encourage them to go beyond their physical reality. For instance, we designed one shoe that was a flaming shoe. You can create all kinds of digital couture looks that could never exist in real life.”
The Fabricant recently ran a 3D fashion design competition in collaboration with Adidas and Karlie Kloss’s nonprofit, Kode With Klossy. The top 20 submissions were then auctioned as NFTs. They were also on display in a gallery in Decentraland, where visitors inhabiting avatars could view the artwork and virtually bid on the designs. The winning design netted 1.4 ETH, about $2,400 at current exchange rates. Proceeds from the auction went directly to the featured artists, while voluntary contributions supported new events and programming for Kode With Klossy’s alumni community of more than 5,000 scholars.
Yet another option for brands is to use NFTs as an opportunity to experiment beyond fashion. Re-inc, a direct-to-consumer brand founded by four American female soccer stars including Megan Rapinoe, made its name selling streetwear. But now it’s launching a set of NFTs that are GIFs of digital playing cards featuring each of the soccer stars. Jenny Wang, a fifth co-founder of Re-inc, says the brand will be buying carbon offsets with some of the profits, responding to criticism that NFTs are bad for the environment. The environmental concerns are expected to dissipate in the coming months: Ethereum is in the process of transitioning to a new “proof of stake” consensus protocol that will dramatically lower carbon emissions.
Cathy Hackl of the Futures Intelligence Group believes we’re just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to virtual fashion and its possibilities. “As we move into a more immersive web, every fashion brand will need to have a virtual strategy,” she says. “Selling virtual dresses and assets will be a significant revenue stream for brands. For my children, the way their avatar looks in games is equally as important as how they look when they go to school. My daughter said to me the other day about her avatar, ‘Yeah mom, I paid a lot for that face.’”
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