NFT mode: Beyond the creators
Digital artists in the growing fashion metaverse of NFT and Web3 aren’t necessarily fashion designers, but could pave the way for a level playing field
We can create NFTs, hit them, scrutinize them… but can we also wear them? The fashion world is tightening its grip on the metaverse through not only digital fashion, but also NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched the new landscape fill up with headlines from this year’s Paris Fashion Week in which the FHCM (Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion) revealed a collaboration with the French NFT platform Arianee. The plan was to distribute NFTs to selected attendees, buyers and journalists during Paris Fashion Week for Men and Haute Couture, to fuel the “exclusive ownership experience”.
The curiosity of Indian fashion NFTs got me thinking and I spoke with disruptors in this space.
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Could India also break this bubble, as it did with art and music?
Much to my dismay, the deep internet dive I did was not very successful. But that brought me to Brooklyn-based digital designer Ravi Singh, who created the first NFT collection of traditional Indian fashion. It was inspired by the $ 69 million Beeple NFT purchase in March and by a duo of Indian descent. Singh’s collection was modeled in 3D by Madrid-based digital fashion designer Lorena Bello, with all the scenes, animations and renders created by the world’s leading NFT fashion marketplace Digitalax. It was a new level of decentralization and it was reflected in the designs, one of them a lehenga choli with a “binary flower” and the other a sherwani with chip lines.
Ravi Singh and the Indian Fashion NFT he created with Madrid designer Lorena Bello, with all the scenes, animations and renders created by the world’s leading NFT fashion market Digitalax
Singh is urging more digital artists to step into this new space – and best of all, he’s not even a fashion designer!
He predicts that the fashion metaverse – or the Web3 fashion space – will see more entrants like him, as well as established names like Gucci, Stella McCartney and Nike. He tells me that the NFT fashion space, still finding its place, has the potential to create “an anarchist utopia”.
While fashion NFTs include visual art and design, it’s often not about everyday functional items like bags, watches, or shoes. That’s why, when designer-artist Viraj Khanna (also the son of designer Anamika Khanna) explains the shopping habits of fashion regulars in the luxury space, I pay attention. “People would like to own the NFT tied to something that no one else could own, almost like buying a painting. In addition to more limited-edition collaborations, rare and unique samples from couture designers will also be featured, ”he predicts.
On top of that, Digitilax founder Emma-Jane McKinnon-Lee piques my interest when she says that fashion NFTs are also fighting the good fight against fast fashion; there is no possibility of full duplication or under-table exchanges, given the security of the authentication protocols on the blockchain.
Who are the buyers?
I had this mental image in my head of libertarian, futuristic guys who only wear oversized Supreme hoodies and neon sneakers. If we go through the Air Force One-esque sneakers that were a collaboration between design studio Rtfkt and Seattle artist Fewocious (of which 621 pairs were made for $ 3.1 million), then probably.
Artist-designer Viraj Khanna (left), ARTSop founder Arushi Kapoor photographed by Sigthor Markusson (right)
Los Angeles-based art collector Arushi Kapoor – who recently founded ARTSop, an art buying advice space – seemed to have answers. “I think the people who collect these fashion NFTs could also be investors who see the value increase due to the limited quantities and the high demand from fashion enthusiasts,” she points out.
- Christie’s and Gucci: In June, Christie’s caused a stir with its NFT sales series “Proof of Sovereignty” featuring Lady PheOnix, a strong voice in the new media landscape. Gucci joined in their first NFT – artwork featuring digital animation from Gucci Aria, his fashion presentation. The sale was made for US $ 25,000.
- Watch industry ready for NFTs: Watch expert Jean-Claude Biver took the NFT step in March with the Bigger Bang All Black Tourbillon Chronograph Special Piece. It was a bold move and saw a traditionally physical art form (watches) converge with emerging technology. The NFT itself is a digital or ‘digital twin’ photograph taken by Biver of the Hublot Tourbillon Chronograph prototype which is part of his highly enviable and private collection. So no, he wasn’t selling the real watch. Meanwhile, Jacob & Co. turned its SF24 Tourbillon watch, a remarkable travel watch, into NFT and sold the digital watch for US $ 1,000,000 in a 24-hour auction on ArtGrails.
- Couture calls: Italian label Aelis ‘Luce ImmorTale’ fall 2021 collection includes five NFTs, all attached to physical, real-world collectibles. These will be sketches created and signed by founder Sofia Crociani and a photo of the dress, all professionally framed with a block transaction number embedded on the frames. If more than three NFTs are obtained by a single collector within two years, he will be able to claim the Haute Couture dress, which would have been presented at the show.
I was intrigued to discover the futuristic ways these buyers consume their investments, some even experimenting with mixed reality. “With fashion, you take advantage of your assets on a screen and only a screen. There aren’t many ways to use them, ”Kapoor continues. “Sometimes you can get a garment that matches the NFT, but that’s not innovative enough. The development of AI could help make these fashion NFTs more usable.
As Singh points out, the NFT fashion space sees the elimination of a brand’s middleman, so there is no exploitation of the value chain. Digitalax (which has seen more than 1,300 Ethereum on sale so far), where Singh’s collection is housed, ensures that all parties involved – the designer, the digital rendering artist, the market – get a share profits or royalties whenever the NFT is traded. Digitalax’s global network of fashion designers has over 50 people with Indian names unrelated to fashion such as Viraj Patel, founder of clothing brand MirchMe, and Sourav Agarwala, graduate and illustrator of NIFT.
Absent mainstream designers
Despite a thriving physical fashion market, Indian designers are not active in the metaverse. Where are the Anamika Khanna NFT packs? When will we see an avant-garde Shantanu and Nikhil range? Or even a range of tech sets from Falguni Shane Peacock? This could be the lingering reluctance given the country’s cloudy crypto regulations.
Singh suggests that there could still be a revenue stream for the ubiquitous digital fashion realm, which could eventually turn into NFT if a designer so chooses.
Read more | What Indian NFT artists need to know before entering this metaverse
Viraj Khanna speaks for Anamika Khanna when he says: “This is not something we are going to tackle now, but once the market emerges in India we will definitely think about it. I think there is a general lack of awareness of this space, especially with Generation X. The younger generations are more tech savvy but they don’t have the same purchasing power.