NFT Fashion: Perfect Match for Web3

Beginner Jan 20, 2022 · 6 min read

Key Takeaways:
—  There seems to be a conflict between NFTs and physical touch-and-feel fashion, but NFTs are the ideal weapon to combat some of the industry’s biggest limitations.

— Fashion isn’t just about physical wearing, it’s about expression and social signalling. And as the physical world becomes more integrated with the digital one, the need for all fashion to be physical slips away. 

— The concept of creating and establishing a reputation for digital presence isn’t new. Gaming skins and social media filters are a way for people to enhance and develop their digital identities without physical limitations.

— NFT fashion solves some of the problems related to material wear-and-tear, variable costs, supply issues. Instead of opposing legacy fashion, NFTs bridge the gap between the physical world of fashion and the growing online landscape.

NFT fashion is making waves across the creative industry and technological industries, offering a way for people to buy, and “wear” digital-only clothing. Big brands are already exploring the scene with digital collections as part of their fashionable offerings, but there is still a tension: can NFTs really be serious fashion?

In this article, we’ll get into how NFTs are an essential vehicle for fashion in the emerging Web3 world – and explain the various ways they benefit, rather than erode, the ecosystem for designers.

Why Use NFTs?

Before we dive into how NFTs make a perfect dovetail with Web3 fashion, let’s take a look the bigger picture of why non-fungibles are so important.

The growth of NFTs has been scattered across industries, from gaming and sports, to art and online communities. But no matter which industry we’re talking about, the utility NFTs bring to the table is a constant: they allow any item to be digitally owned, which opens a lot of possibilities.

Gaming is a great example of this in action. Say you want to acquire an asset for a game you like using – previously, even if you paid for a gaming item, you could only use it within its native platform, and not outside of this.

NFTs overcome this by enabling you to “own” items via the blockchain – in the case of gaming assets, this means your items are not tied to any one platform or game, but can be used and displayed anywhere online by you. In other words, the item becomes a digital accessory.

The ability to meaningfuly “own” digital objects means that you can curate your digital life to reflect who you are, what you’re interested in and what community you’re a part of. Just like real life.

So the arrival of NFTs is a lot more than just profile pictures – really, they’re about human beings communicating digitally about who they are.

NFTs and Fashion – A Perfect Match

We know what you’re thinking – fashion is about touch and feel! It’s meant to be worn! Anything digital seems to sit at odds with fashion’s essence, but when you break it down, fashion was never really about touch and feel anyway. It’s about showing and signalling.

Let’s see how that works by looking at the humble pair of jeans. The function of a pair of jeans is pretty simple – they’re casual trousers designed to keep you warm and be worn anywhere. Pretty straightforward, right?

But jeans vary wildly in price, despite being made from the same material and having more or less the same underlying qualities. Why?

Streetwear brand Supreme is a perfect example: functionally, their jeans serve the exact same purpose as a generic equivalent – yet wearers expressly seek out Supreme, and pay more for it, for a different reason. For the wearer, it’s not really about the clothes, but rather the community. Supreme is famous for its link with hip hop and urban skate culture, wearing its clothing isn’t really about staying warm, but a signal to the world about your personal style, status and the community you resonate with.

Fashion is about expression, and guess what? For the Web3 world, NFTs are a perfect vehicle for doing that. In fact, they’re already changing the way we think about personal style, and what’s possible.

Web 3.0 Fashion – Changing our Norms

Let’s say you’re watching a live stream of a digital performance. Your favourite artist walks onto the stage wearing a distinctive pair of sneakers. Behind the scenes, an NFT designer is drawing up brand new designs as part of the performance, and the exclusive NFT is auctioned off at the end of the performance to one lucky buyer.

Since it’s an NFT, the winner of the auction could instantly display the digital sneakers online as part of their unique collectio. Or if the design was D2A (direct to avatar), simply put them directly on their digital avatar, who could then wander around the metaverse in style.

Fashion and Clothing – two different concepts!

Let’s be clear – at no point in this process does anyone think that these shoes can actually be worn. And yet, here we are still calling them “sneakers” – did you notice that? The definition of fashion is moving, and with it, our options.

But what does this mean for the fashion industry? Can a sector so rooted in exclusivity, tactile materials and specific body types truly straddle the gap between digital and physical without losing its status?

Yes, it can. NFT fashion benefits both consumers and creators, here’s why.

Fashion NFTs – Self Expression for Web3

Visibility and a wider audience

This might seem a little ironic, but if you’re looking to tell people who you are, there’s far more opportunity for an item of clothing to be seen on the internet than in real life. With digital fashion, you can display an entire collection – at the same time, all of the time. Instead of needing to choose just one accessory or outfit each day, your online presence has the potential to offer a permanent public exhibition of who you are, through your fashion choices.

And this is great for the owner of the fashion as well as the creator. An NFT is always visible and on display, it’s kind of like a permanent advert for the designer.

A Completely Liquid Fashion Market

The permanent display works wonders with the fact that NFT fashion can be traded easily from peer-to-peer. It’s a completely liquid market where collections can change hands easily and seamlessly and nothing wears or tears. For digital designers, this means a booming market with greater potential.

Secondary Profits for Creators

There’s another huge advantage for fashion brands using NFTs: programmable royalties.

When a designer sells a physical item of clothing or an accessory, they make one profit one time only – but with NFTs, they can profit every time the item is sold.

The smart contract built into an NFT means that a portion of the profit from all secondary sales could be programmed to go back to the creator, every single time an item is resold. If a person buys a pair of stilettos from a digital designer and sells them later to another fashion collector, for example, the artist behind the high-heels will get a little something from the secondary sale.

Stability and Sustainability

A fashion NFT stays in mint condition forever. A digital dress isn’t going to get patches where someone left the steam-press on for too long. It won’t show remnants of coffee accidentally spilt. It won’t face the same limitations of physical life-span that IRL fashion faces.

Moreover, NFTs won’t be slapped by supply issues where resources run low or where stock gets stuck in the middle of the ocean. Costs of NFT production also won’t skyrocket when a certain material runs out. The problems that plague designers in real-world fashion don’t translate to online fashion, but the designs themselves do.

Reality-Defying Designs

Digital fashion also means designs can transcend any restrictions faced in real-world, meaning there are no limits to what a designer could do with fashion. Consumers will be able to get their hands on items that simply would not be possible in real life – these iricescent Wilder Kicks by Chad Knight are just one example of what you cna expect. Cool right?

Ownership Legacy and Authenticity

Because NFTs are based on the blockchain, they inherently offer a background to everything that has happened with each piece/collection. 

So goodbye cheap imitations – designers can now lock their authenticity into every piece they create, via their all important digital signature.

Furthermore, with historic ownership, an NFT can generate extra value depending on who has owned a piece in the past. In the same way that people will pay extra money for a scarf just because Harry Styles wore it, an NFT owned by an icon will add extra value to the digital

Immersive Fashion Experiences

NFTs can be used in the industry beyond the fashion pieces too. A luxury experience can be tokenized by a brand in the form of digital tickets; whereby only the holders of the NFTs have access to certain exclusive events or merchandise.

Or a ticket to a fashion show could be tokenized and displayed in a wallet, exhibiting the experiences a person has been a part of (kind of like Instagram, but for tokens). Check out our article all about Proof of Attendance Protocol to see how your life experiences can be curated to form a unique digital fingerprint.

With all that said and done, the picture is clear – NFT fashion opens major doors for designers, as long as they are willing to adjust their format. NFTs set the stage for building presence as a digital designer: fresh ways to advertise, interact with customers and collaborate with each other beyond the traditional runway. For fashion, it’s an opportunity – not an erosion.

Web 3 Fashion – Putting Culture First

Our transition to Web3 and the culture of digital ownership is disrupting everything, and that includes fashion. We’ve never had more invested in our digital identity, and this is causing a shift in what we expect.

And that’s no bad thing – NFTs empower designers to take advantage of the growing industry of digital fashion, while still hanging onto the credibility and exclusivity of their brand. The fashion game is changing, and designers have a lot to gain – but for the first time, we, the end user, also share some benefits. And that’s the beauty of Web3.

Knowledge is power.

Web 3 is happening – but do you understand what it means for you? Check out our School of Block episode, where we take a deep dive into the next generation of fashion.

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