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When a shoe collaboration between design studio RTFKT and digital artist Fewocious netted around $3.1 million earlier this year, the fashion world sat up and paid attention. More than 600 pairs sold out in seven minutes. The shoes were issued as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, unique digital assets authenticated by a digital ledger known as a blockchain. With appetites for unique virtual assets surging, more fashion companies are looking at how they can tap the market; even Rimowa is launching NFTs. But is this a long-term opportunity or just a passing fad?
In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, deputy editor Brian Baskin speaks with Benoit Pagotto, co-founder of RTFKT, Karinna Nobbs, co-CEO of NFT marketplace The Dematerialised, Amber Slooten, co-founder and creative director of digital fashion house The Fabricant and editorial associate M.C. Nanda about ways fashion can tap into the NFT gold rush.
Virtual fashion isn’t just about gaming anymore, and that could open up a whole new marketplace for digital skins and on-trend avatars. “Within this new NFT space, people are starting to see the value of digital items,” said Slooten.”You’re able to sort of create that new, endless way of expressing yourself.”
The fashion industry has yet to fully tap into the NFT opportunity, and doing so will mean becoming more open to collaborations. “Nobody [is] sharing anything with each other [in fashion] because they’re afraid it’s going to get stolen,” said Slooten.
Proponents of NFTs say the recent boom is no flash in the pan, but a mark of a paradigm shift. “This is fundamentally going to change digital ownership, creative structures, the creative economy, how we view money even,” said Nobbs. “This is bigger than the Internet.”