With luxury brands, usual business and marketing practices work upside down. While other companies aim to scale, optimize and become accessible – luxury brands are meant to be a cold and beautiful dream that inspires admiration and (seldom fulfilled) desires to own. Building a luxury brand requires generations of storytelling and the ability to strike a fragile balance between winning and exclusive, one-of-a-kind perfection. This paradigm has changed with the trends of modernity, in which a successful business should be data and community driven. Digitization aims to democratize everything from the financial world to the arts, and luxury brands need to follow this ever-changing reality and embrace innovation in their own way.
Connected: Beyond the hype: the real value of NFTs has yet to be determined
Paris Fashion Week, Haute Couture and Innovation
The Haute couture Paris Fashion Week is a 150 year old think tank of fashion trends and predictions, where a rigorous and handpicked number of designers and fashionistas decide the future of the industry and celebrate its glory. It’s Davos and Pizza Day of the fashion world. Haute couture Creations – wearable works of art in unique editions – are presented every six months in January and July during a week in Paris.
The need to embrace innovation is even included in the definition of. described Haute couture, proclaimed by La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) – the umbrella organization of the French fashion industry founded in 1868, which also organizes the Paris Fashion Week. The term Haute couture is described as “extremely modern” and serves as a “permanent gateway” between tradition, know-how and craft “at the forefront of innovation”.
Today’s “forefront of innovation” is creating digital apparel and experiences using augmented reality (AR), virtual fashion shows, decentralized communities, and blockchain-enabled ownership. All of these things have been popping up in the fashion industry lately, but they have accelerated even more with the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic that prompted all fashion brands to put their shows online for 2020.
The boom in non-fungible tokens (NFT) took place along with activated blockchain-related experiments. As early as 2019, Dapper Labs x Fabricant x Johanna Jaskowska sold an NFT at the Ethereum Summit that includes a model in a digital outfit.
We saw a lot of successful fashion NFTs this year. In February, virtual brand Rtfkt, in partnership with aspiring 18-year-old digital and visual transgender artist Fewocious, sold 621 pairs of sneakers for $ 3.1 million in just seven minutes. Additionally, Fewocious recently sold five of their artwork through Christie’s for $ 2.16 million.
The news did not go unnoticed by luxury fashion brands. Rumor has it that Gucci will coin some NFTs for the collection of their digital sneakers that they recently released with AR in their application. In addition, Gucci sold its very first NFT called “Aria” for $ 25,000 through Christie’s in the form of digital art and a video clip of a catwalk show by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele. Eventually, Mason Rothschild and Eric Ramirez claimed they sold a pregnant Birkin for $ 23,500, “Despite the NFT that borrowed the iconic Birkin name and style, Hermès had no connection with the sale – and saw no revenue from the sale. ”If that sale happened, it painfully means that luxury brands should regain control of all user-generated content and adopt NFTs.
Paris Fashion Week has just ended and it appears to be the first event where traditional high fashion brands made NFT-related announcements. In fact, some NFTs were started by the Fashion Week organization itself.
FHCM is giving away NFTs to Fashion Week guests
FHCM announced that it has partnered with French NFT platform Arianee to give away NFTs to selected attendees, buyers and journalists during Paris Fashion Week Men and Haute Couture Week.
Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, CEO of Arianee, stated: “We are delighted to enable the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode to lead the way in the NFT area.” He continued:
“We hope to help strengthen Paris’ position not only as the capital of fashion, but also as the capital of NFTs for exclusive ownership experiences.”
As Hurstel explained via email, “The NFTs given away by FHCM contain two assets. The first benefit is press accreditation, which is given to all accredited journalists, influencers and buyers who attend Fashion Week events. The second asset is an exclusive digital work of art by legendary fashion illustrator Richard Haines. Both assets are not only given away as scarce digital assets, but can also be experienced in augmented reality within the Arianee wallet application. This means that every accredited member can project the press accreditation onto a video of themselves or a broadcast and publish it on social media. Or you can project Richard Haines’ artwork anywhere in your home or even on any building in Paris, like the Opera Garnier. “
Arianee adds, “These NFTs give all accredited members access to exclusive content and AR experiences, including a digital work of art by legendary fashion illustrator Richard Haines and press accreditation for Paris Fashion Week.”
The NFTs are also used by the organizers to digitize the accreditation process. Instead of sharing their personal information at the gate, guests can simply prove their ownership to the NFT for access to all Fashion Week events.
A total of 300 NFTs were minted on the Ethereum sidechain using the Arianee protocol. Technically, these collectibles can be listed and resold in the secondary market, but the focus of the release was on educating executives in the fashion industry about blockchain technologies and NFTs.
Connected: The mass adoption of blockchain technology is possible, and education is key
The French startup Arianee behind the operation has built a platform that provides NFTs for luxury goods. Last year, the company announced that Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling would use the platform to certify limited edition watches. In March 2021, Arianee reportedly raised around $ 9.5 million in funding. A dramatic increase in the quality of counterfeit goods poses a major threat to all luxury brands, so some platforms like Arianee bring real and tangible value to consumers. You can use the blockchain to authenticate and certify your purchases. Aura, a similar platform for authenticating luxury goods and combating counterfeiting, was developed by ConsenSys, Microsoft and LVMH.
Couture brand Aelis launches NFT collection “Luce ImmorTale”
The NFT art and high fashion industries have a lot more in common than it seems at first glance. One thing they have in common is the correlation between high prices and a tiny customer base – the entire one Haute couture The active buyer base worldwide is around 4,000 people. The NFT market also remains a very niche, despite all the excitement. For example, CryptoPunks – the luxury of crypto – were trading with only 600 active wallets at its peak. While ready-to-wear, or ready-to-wear, creations are made to be worn by thousands of people, Haute couture is unique and should only be worn on special occasions. Haute couture Creations are inherently non-fungible, and the idea of an NFT attached to one Haute couture piece is very à la mode.
This is being carried out by Aelis – one of the youngest houses of Paris Fashion Week Spring / Summer 2021 – and announced on July 5th that it would launch a long-term NFT project to be known as one of the first brands to offer a collection will be offered in the form of NFTs. Aelis does not create ready-to-wear collections and exists purely in the world of art and high fashion. The brand is known for building very careful relationships with collectors, without giving a broad audience access to their art, but instead communicating exclusively through selected media and within a close community of wealthy private individuals. With NFTs, Aelis has found a new way to build a unique and timeless relationship with the brand’s collectors.
Behind the company’s commitment to innovative technology is Sofia Crociani, the founder of Aelis, who worked for Dior and worked closely with Karl Lagerfeld before founding Aelis four years ago. The company said in a statement:
“These new spaces of creation and freedom, which are based on blockchain technology and break the codes over and over again, are known to be developed in correlation and harmony with NFTs.”
Crociani said in an interview, “I believe NFTs have unique qualities that all artists are looking for: immortality and unaltered transmission. They are an extension of physical art and have the ambition to bring a new vision into the way works of art are distributed. It’s a breath of fresh air and a great inspiration for an artist as NFTs are transcendental and exist through the centuries – like an eternal immortal light. Hence the name of my upcoming performance: ‘Luce ImmorTale’ (Immortal Light) “
The “Luce ImmorTale” NFT collection consists of five NFTs, all of which are linked to real, physical collectibles. These are sketches made and signed by Sofia Crociani and a photo of the dress, all professionally framed with a block transaction number embedded in the frames. If a single collector purchases more than three NFTs within two years, he can get the Haute couture Dress that would have been presented on the show.
Another interesting feature of the Aelis NFT collection is the two-year embargo and long-term campaign around the collection. Over the next two years and after the sale, the creations will be displayed in various galleries and art exhibitions, with the name or wallet address of the collector who first acquired the NFT.
Similar to the traditional art business, the collection will gain in provenance in this way. Provenance is the history of ownership and the location of the art: When a work of art is exhibited at prestigious exhibitions, this influences the value of the work of art. Five different NFT auctions, which will be announced later, will take place on different platforms. Aelis stated that NFTs are minted in an environmentally friendly way to maintain brand identity and promote NFTs who respect the planet.
NFT and sustainable fashion
It is no coincidence that an environmentally conscious guest couture brand started experimenting with NFTs. The problem of unnecessary over-consumption of natural resources is widely discussed by fashion insiders. On July 8, the Executive President of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode Pascal Morand spoke at the panel discussion together with the Head of Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence at PwC France Jean-David Benassouli and the CEO of Newlife.ai, Sofiane Delloue “How can AI support the green revolution in fashion?” Organized by Explor’IA. Fashion experts discussed a digital and environmentally conscious revolution that is taking place in the fashion industry. Pascal Morand emphasized that environmental pollution was the main theme of Paris Fashion Week this year.
While most of the discussion was devoted to AI, the panelists’ experts discussed NFT technology as a tool for the Creator’s economy. Delloue added, “There are ways that NFTs can be used in fashion for sustainability. On the one hand, we have overproduction in the fashion industry, which can be reduced by better aligning creators’ ideas through digital formats and collecting data on consumer preferences. On the other hand, we want to empower the participants in the fast growing creative industries through new forms of monetization of their intellectual property, and this is made possible by the infinite functionality of smart contracts and programmable money. At Newlife, we are building a comprehensive suite of smart contracts that can scale creativity and rewards while reducing the pace of fashion trends. We are inventing new licensing models for fashion, luxury and culture. “
NFT technology has received a lot of backlash because of the environmental damage caused by a large number of transactions necessary to mint, trade, and burn NFTs, making it heavy and energy consuming on the network. However, most of the marketplaces started working on green improvements like lazy minting and the use of layer two solutions that aggregate transactions. The upcoming Ethereum update from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) promises to improve the sustainability of the NFT market.
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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Sophia Steiner graduated from Lomonosov University in Moscow in journalism and began her career as an art critic for the film industry and urban architecture. She founded her agency Schteiner PR with a focus on luxury brands in the fields of art, French crafts, design and interiors. In 2018 she joined an international communications agency and worked with blockchain startups during the crypto bull market. The combination of experiences from both worlds Sophia writes about blockchain technology in the creative industries.