After three days, the 3D TECH Festival 2021 ended a week ago, bringing together international experts from the ever-expanding field of digital fashion. On the last day of the online event, the focus was on a new fad: NFTs. What does it mean?
The global hype
Three weeks ago, the first “non-fungible tokens” (NFT) of fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld were launched. First, a black and white NFT figurine, whose digital platform La Dématériisée offered a total of 777 pieces at a price of 77 euros each. A second shiny metallic NFT figure of Lagerfeld, of which only 77 pieces were offered, cost 177 euros each.
In 33.77 seconds, the more expensive version was sold out; the cheapest took 49.09 minutes, revealed Marjorie Hernandez, co-founder of The Dematerialized, during her presentation. Traffic to the website where the NFTs were sold came from all over the world. Sixteen percent from the United States, 39 percent from Europe, and 45 percent from the rest of the world. “The interest in Karl Lagerfeld’s NFTs is global,” Hernandez continued. It goes well beyond the brand’s traditional marketing channels and reaches new targets, especially the younger generations.
Tamper-Evident JPEG Files
Why the hype? What are NFTs and what metaverse were they created for? Finally, what does new technology bring to the fashion world? This is exactly what the 3D TECH Festival tried to find answers to. Because one thing is clear: the NFT Lagerfelds are only the latest example of a new technological adaptation that is currently in vogue, especially among high fashion brands: Burberry, Balenciaga, Gucci, Luis Vuitton, they are all trying to acquire experience in this new field.
NFTs are nothing more than JPEG files. These non-fungible tokens are in a way digital certificates of authenticity which are generally secured through blockchain technology and are therefore tamper-proof. TVNs come from the arts and games sectors. It wasn’t until March of this year that a photo of artist Beeple was auctioned off at Christie’s for € 69 million – possibly the most expensive JPEG file in the world to date.
A new sales channel for brands
For fashion brands, digital fashion opens up a whole new field of activity. They can sell their fashion not only in the real world, but also in the virtual world through NFTs – especially in the gaming world. Here too, clothing plays an increasingly important role. “For kids, the skin they wear in Fortnite is just as important as their clothes in real life. Both reflect who they are, ”says Evelyn Mora, one of the founders of Helsinki Fashion Week and founder of the social metaverse“ Digital Village ”. In Metaverses, players can create personal avatars, shop, attend fashion shows, meet up, and even buy land and real estate. The possibilities are limitless. Unlike most social media today, a metaverse is a collective virtual space that is usually stored in a decentralized manner and is often based on blockchains, for example to secure its own currencies.
In its infancy
“Fashion brands are just starting to understand NFTs,” says Richard Hobbs. He himself comes from the fashion world and founded the NFT platform bnv.me. Much is emerging and it is not yet decided where exactly the journey will go. “There was a risk of launching the NFT Lagerfelds,” explains Mirjam Schuele, Marketing Manager at Karl Lagerfeld. “There aren’t many benchmarks to follow. We did our best, but of course we couldn’t know in advance how the market would receive our NTFs. The success of the first NFTs encouraged them to pursue the technique. The next drop is already planned, although she doesn’t want to reveal more about it. “We really want to explore the world of NFT and see how we can push the boundaries in new ways,” said Schuele. Hobbs advises the industry to tackle the problem. “You have to jump into the water now if you want to ride the wave, because the wave is coming now.”
This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.