With a market value of over $1.55 trillion, the global fashion industry is not only one of the biggest in the world, but also an indispensable part of our identities. For centuries, this industry played a significant role in defining societies and cultures globally. From apparel and jewelry to accessories, this industry is an epitome of self-expression, creativity, and individuality, allowing people to make a statement without words.
However, in the wake of the global pandemic, the world shifted its operations online and changed the very meaning of the term self-expression. People are spending more time in virtual worlds than in physical ones. Tech companies are pouring billions of dollars into the development of the metaverse to simulate the physical world online. As a result, the physical form of self-expression is losing ground to an overarching demand for virtual mediums of identity and self-expression.
The global fashion industry could find itself in a fix in this regard. It either reinvents itself or risks losing ground to the digital revolution. And to this end, the industry is now turning towards NFTs, which is opening a world of new opportunities for all players in the fashion industry.
Recently, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) emerged to become one of the most popular digital assets. They initially appeared as a passing craze. Yet over the years, they established their place as a viable investment option and form of expression online. Recently, Twitter users went out of their way, spending thousands of dollars to purchase NFTs. They chose NFTs that best suit their personalities and used them as display pictures. So, in this way, people already use NFTs to express themselves online.
However, when combined with fashion, they take a whole new dimension as wearable digital assets. Fashion NFTs enable the tokenization of apparel, accessories, textiles, jewelry, footwear, and handbags, creating a way for them to exist in the metaverse. Why do we need fashion in the virtual world? The answer may be as simple as people wanting to experience these virtual worlds via realistic representations of themselves, namely their digital avatars.
In the near future, these avatars will represent them in business conferences, concerts, parties, weddings, and other social interactions. So, it makes sense to have appropriate digital outfits for these avatars. Fashion NFTs, much like fashion in the real world, will become central to creating identities and cultures in the metaverse.
One can also argue fashion NFTs are the next evolutionary step for the fashion industry. They allow fashion designers to turn their designs into highly valuable and unique NFT collections.In fact Dolce and Gabbana’s first NFT collection raked almost $5.7 million in 2021.
Unleashing a World of New Opportunities
For global fashion brands and emerging designers, fashion NFTs open a world of opportunities. They eliminate geographical boundaries and allow them to cater to a whole new demographic in virtual worlds. These NFTs also protect the intellectual property of brands and creators by integrating the ownership of the assets into the NFT itself.
As such, fashion designers and brands are already making strides toward entering the NFT space. In 2021, ace designer, Rebecca Minkoff, became the first female American designer to launch an NFT-collection for her work. The collection of ten unique outfits, created for New York fashion week, sold out in a record nine minutes.
“I’m really excited about the potential of collectibles,” Minkoff said, speaking of NFTs. “The transactions that take place, and how we as designers can actually benefit from what’s happening in the Metaverse and in the blockchain to find new and creative ways to do business.”
Apart from this, personalities like Ralph Lauren and Manish Malhotra have also announced their entry into the metaverse. Global brands like H&M and Nike have opened stores in the metaverse. Nearly seven million people have visited Nike’s virtual outlet.
Looking at the early success of these brands, it is clear that fashion NFTs and digital fashion pave the way forward. These NFTs open a world of novel opportunities for designers and brands, and create the scope for a new wave of collaborations.
Balenciaga teamed up with Fortnite to launch an NFT collection in the virtual world. And, to no one’s surprise, the collection became popular overnight. SINCE3000, a company that creates NFT collections, collaborated with the content production firm, Live Rocket Studios, and 3D artist, Isaac Udogwu, to create a tokenized collection of dresses worn by the oscar-winning actress, Julianne Moore. The collection launched on the Mogul NFT marketplace is named Gowns for Good, featuring three iconic dresses donned by the actress on red carpets.
With a few global brands already entering the metaverse and more to follow suit, fashion NFTs will become central to all GameFi and SocialFi experiences within the metaverse, allowing people to re-create their identities and express themselves online.
Fashion is a fundamental part of our lives. We are identified by our fashion sense and outfit choices every day in the physical world. Now, as we move from a physical to digital reality, the world’s major industries might lose their prominence. But not fashion.
The fashion industry will play an increasingly critical role in crafting our identities in the digital-first world of tomorrow. And ultimately, it will thoroughly transform how we interact and relate to each other socially, as well as personally.
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