Fashion NFTs: the luxury designer brands embracing blockchain technology
As the NFT craze roars on, luxury fashion houses’ interest in innovative digital marketplaces continues to grow. Fashion NFTs aren’t disappearing anytime soon. From in-game accessories to experimental online spaces, we look at the collections and virtual experiences shaking up the fashion world this summer.
Last year, the world went nuts for NFTs. Staggering sales were recorded in the art world, pop stars and rock stars fell over themselves to get in on the crypto action, and naturally, the world of fashion was not far behind, with Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Balenciaga, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton among the fashion houses embracing this fast-paced, emerging marketplace. Now, a year on, with none other than Madonna teaming up with notorious NFT artist Beeple to produce three NFTs depicting the Queen of Pop as the mother of all creation, the NFT trend shows no sign of stopping, and fashion NFTs seem to be going from strength to strength.
Earlier this year, legendary luxury fashion house Gucci partnered with digital character brand Superplastic to launch a SuperGucci NFT collection. Created by Gucci’s head of design Alessandro Michele, the idea was to combine classic Gucci motifs and designs with SuperPlastic digital characters Janky & Guggimon. Now, Gucci is cementing itself into the digital, crypto world, by inaugurating an experimental online space and gallery, called Vault Art Space.
Created through a partnership between Gucci and SuperRare, the marketplace for unique curated NFT artworks, the gallery allows virtual visitors to view and collect the work of contemporary artists. The unbounded, digital space will present a regular rotation of exhibitions. Its first, The Next 100 Years of Gucci, presents a selection of NFT artworks, each described by the fashion house as “a collectible fragment of Gucci’s kaleidoscopic heritage”. The collection will be showcased and auctioned off directly on Vault’s website in three drops, with the first from June 23 to July 1, 2022.
From multi-dimensional flora prints and bold digital palettes, to platform boots inspired by retrofuturism and 90s lava lamps, the current batch of artworks are certainly varied. This was central to Gucci’s ‘kaleidoscopic’ vision – the artists were drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, some cryptoart natives, and some more traditional creators experimenting with digital artforms. Many are emerging artists, now displayed in the gallery as a means to progress Vault’s commitment to supporting and empowering the new talents of today.
“For the house, this is the natural evolution of an approach we have always had under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele,” Nicolas Oudinot, Executive Vice President of new businesses at Gucci and Chief Executive Officer of Gucci Vault, stressed as Vault was announced. “Partnering with SuperRare to showcase and support the experimental work of this multifaceted roster of artists gave us the chance to be consistent with this, while exploring new methods to do so,” he continued, suggesting these new methods “are themselves portals to the future.”
After having launched its first in-game NFT collection in partnership with Mythical Games in August 2021, Burberry are also clearly banking on the ongoing success of NFTs. On the 20th June, Burberry announced it is partnering with Mythical Games for a second year running, to launch a new NFT collection in its flagship title, Blankos Block Party. Burberry describes the game as “a vibrant, inclusive world styled like a giant block party, where players can compete in a variety of fun minigames with friends, collect and blend unique digital vinyl toys called ‘Blankos’ and earn fully ownable digital items through gameplay.” These NFTs can then be bought and sold on the Mythical Marketplace for money.
“The original Burberry collection was a first of its kind and was tremendously successful in showing how brands can interact in a Web3 world,” Jamie Jackson, Chief Creative Officer at Mythical Games said when the 2022 collaboration was announced. Though, he believes, “the next Burberry collection takes it up a notch with all new in-game content.”
Last summer, the limited- edition Burberry Blanko was a shark named Sharky B. This year, the exclusive NFT takes the form of a unicorn adorned with Burberry’s new TB Summer Monogram, named Minny B – “a kind, gentle, and cheeky character that melds art and creativity to evoke a sense of limitless possibility,” according to the designer brand.
The new NFT collection will also include Burberry branded in-game accessories, including boomboxes, sliders, lucky horseshoe necklaces, and a seashell-inspired mobile phone accessory (naturally dubbed a ‘Shellphone’), which players can add to their virtual portfolio of accessories. Blankos Block Party players that own Burberry’s first NFT character, Sharky B, will also be rewarded with a free Monogram bucket hat accessory which will be released in the coming weeks.
Burberry is now opening new spaces for its communities as part of the collaboration, by creating a bespoke social space within the game, named ‘The Oasis’, where players can come together and enjoy a unique virtual experience. A futuristic haven, The Oasis includes an array of beaches, featuring branded sailboats and sun loungers inspired by Burberry’s latest TB Summer Monogram destination takeovers in Saint-Tropez, Ibiza, Korea, and Singapore.
Will collaborations like this between heritage fashion houses and innovative NFT companies continue? Rachel Waller, VP Channel Innovation at Burberry certainly sees the natural connections between the two industries. “Luxury is an industry built on fantasy and expression,” she says, “so in many ways, gaming is a canvas perfectly suited to bringing these dreams to life. The metaverse provides limitless opportunities for us to flex our imagination and connect with our customers in richer ways, and we’re excited to continue to experiment in this space.” With fashion NFTs still booming, fashionistas should watch this space.