Would you pay real money to buy clothes you can wear only virtually? At the first look, that’s what crypto fashion seems like: virtual fashion bought with real money. Why then, is there so much hype and a whole fashion week created around it? Let’s find out!
What Is Crypto Fashion?
You’ve probably heard of the term crypto with regards to cryptocurrency, a digital or virtual currency secured by cryptography. Crypto fashion follows a similar concept. It creates designs that you can wear virtually, using Augmented Reality (AR) technology in photographs, videos or even video games. Owing to its virtual existence, products of crypto fashion can be adapted and changed as per the user’s preferences. The lack of a physical aspect for crypto fashion makes its products available to buy as Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs. An NFT is essentially a piece of data that represents a digital file (in this case a digital garment or accessory), that can be bought, sold or even traded. Simply put, an NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items or videos that are often intangible. NFTs essentially work as proof of ownership for a particular digital asset. While others may be able to screenshot, download or take pictures of the digital file, only the original NFT holds the real value of the piece.
Image used is for representational purposes only.
Crypto Fashion Week
The increasing popularity of NFTs and crypto enthusiasts helped push virtual fashion to the forefront of the industry as well. In February this year, the first-ever Crypto Fashion Week’s digital presentation premiere took place. The event brought together a digital showcase from different designers and their digital creations. The event’s first edition was followed up with a second season that went live recently in September. This season’s showcase featured a unique drop by the digital fashion house, The Fabricant, which showcased a set of six styles that can be bought as an NFT by choosing your preferred fabric and colour. The platform allows you to see the outfit closely, and look into details of the virtual garment.
Image Source: Instagram/cryptofashionweek
Major brands like NYX Professional Makeup and Rebecca Minkoff were also a part of the recent season of the fashion event. While NYX, which was also the official beauty partner of the event, showcased its first NFT which was a look based on a real-life makeup look by makeup artist Mimi Choi. Designer Rebecca Minkoff was a part of one of the conversational sessions and also showcased one of the brand’s NFT outfits.
The fashion week, however, is not crypto fashion’s only advent into the digital world. Luxury fashion house, Balenciaga, launched its Fall 2021 collection through a digital video game in December last year, while Burberry streamed its Spring 2021 fashion show on American video live streaming service, Twitch, last September. Gucci also partnered with Sims to recreate its Off The Grid campaign. Virtual avatars like Wavi Boy, a digital fashion model created by creative and digital designer, Wolf Groom, as well as fast fashion giant H&M’s Avatar Maisie have also been hints of fashion digitization. More recently, at Copenhagen Fashion Week in August this year, Danish fashion brand Soulland closed its Summer 2022 with an NFT outfit walking down the virtual runway. Givenchy Parfums also launched NFTs recently in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Very recently, luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana launched a nine-piece collection of NFTs on UNXD, a digital platform. The collection sold for a whopping amount of $5.65 million, with the most expensive piece being sold for $1.275 million, revealing the true potential of monetary success when it comes to crypto fashion.
Image Source: Unxd.com
Closer to home, FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week is all set to step foot into the world of digital fashion with WazirX NFT Marketplace in its showcase, The Indian NFT Revolution, on October 6. WazirX is a South Asian NFT Marketplace where one can buy digital artworks, travel experiences and fashion, as NFTs
If you’re still wondering why people are ready to buy clothes that can be worn only virtually, there are a few reasons for it. Most crypto fashion enthusiasts see it as a potentially sustainable alternative to fashion, given the fact that there is no waste. “If you think about the ways that digital fashion can phase out production costs, save manufacturing costs, save landfill costs, and then if I'm wearing it just to show off on social to my friends or to show up in a video game, then it may as well be something digital because these environments are digital environments,” says Lady Phe0nix, co-organizer of Crypto Fashion Week in an interview with Nylon.
For others, like Soulland’s Creative Director, Silas Adler, it’s the emotional connection to the purchase that makes an NFT relevant. “I think it's very important for us to not try to understand the technology, but to focus on the emotions behind it. That’s where the physical and the digital worlds meet,” he said in a statement about the brand’s latest NFT drop. The look is available to purchase in varying virtual forms: the first is a simpler animation, while its soon-to-be-released version will include the 'ingredients' to construct the look offline, like a digital pattern and fabric suggestions.
Image Source: Instagram/soulland
Some of these reasons may explain recent crypto fashion success stories, like the one of the world’s first digital couture that sold for a whopping $9,500. It was created by The Fabricant in collaboration with artist Johanna Jaskowska.
Image Source: Instagram/johwska
In June this year, virtual world Decentraland announced that its users could now sell their virtual clothing for avatars to wear on the site. Subsequently, virtual artist Hiroto Kai designed Japanese-style kimonos that sold out for around $140 each, making him $15,000-$20,000 in just three weeks.
While crypto fashion has come a long way, with accelerated speed especially in the last year, whether or not it can overshadow real fashion, is the biggest question. Nonetheless, it does prove to be one of the better sustainable fashion alternatives available today.