Why Fashion Hasn’t Given Up on Crypto

If the crypto meltdown is forcing fashion brands to rethink their Web3 loadout for even a moment, you wouldn’t know.

Although the global cryptocurrency market has lost two-thirds of its value since November and NFT prices have fallen, the crypto-related moves continue. More and more brands and retailers say they will accept cryptocurrency payments. Alo Yoga will even allow employees to convert their salary into cryptocurrency. Tag Heuer has released a watch that lets you display an NFT as your face. Burberry has just announced its second NFT collection for the game Blankos Block Party. And on Tuesday at the NFT NYC conference, Gucci said he was teaming up with art market NFT SuperRare on a project that will see him collaborate with a variety of artists.

The atmosphere was there. Many fashion panel speakers expressed confidence that consumer lifestyles would only become more digital, that web3 would provide new opportunities for fashion businesses, that the crypto community would continue to be a source valuable in sales and that the current state of the crypto market did not reflect the long-term potential it holds.

Some even hailed the slowdown.

“All the hype about this world of crypto, making easy money, hype, etc., it’s kind of fading and it’s fantastic,” said Stefano Rosso, board member of OTB Group and founder of D-Cave, a digital lifestyle center. . “It’s probably the real ones that remain – the ones with the vision, the solid roadmaps, the capabilities to build stuff.”

It’s possible, of course, that fashion brands would continue because their projects were already in development and they didn’t want to abandon them at this point.

But there’s also a broader sense among the types of technologies that web3 is just getting started. In an interview with the New York TimesChris Dixon, who heads crypto investments at Andreessen Horowitz, explained that while hedge funds may place their bets based on short-term gains, as venture capital funds they often think of a ” horizon of more than 12 years”.

Many also believe that the fall in cryptocurrency prices is not the result of a single crypto weakness. The entire market is suffering and institutional investors are exiting the riskiest assets first. Crypto is in this category.

At NFT NYC, Rosso remarked that the crypto turmoil should help weed out weaker projects and weed out speculators who see the space as an easy money grab. What will remain, at least in theory, are the builders who will create the businesses and capabilities that will power the next evolution of the Internet.

Many fashion designers seem to share the view and are thinking about how they can use these abilities to improve the way they serve and connect with customers. Olivier Moingeon, co-founder and chief commercial officer of Exclusible, an NFT platform for luxury brands, said no brand told them they were suspending or canceling a project due to the bear market. A key theme of fashion-focused discussions was the need for brands to experiment.

“Because we’re in the early days of NFTs, brands can actually be more strategic, so look at who their customer is and be realistic about who the current web3 consumer is and find an overlap,” said Nelly Mensah, who runs web3 and the metaverse. – initiatives related to LVMH.

As an example, Mensah pointed to the overlap between the watch community and NFT collectors. (Early indications on Twitter and Discord indicate that crypto enthusiasts are loving Tag Heuer’s new NFT watch.) Focusing on a product category or region is a good place to start, and as more and more consumers start using crypto products, brands can expand their reach.

Although brands don’t have to appeal to everyone either. Dolce & Gabbana’s new NFT program offers different tiers, each offering different levels of access to products and events, explained Shashi Menon, Founder and Managing Director of UNXD, the NFT Marketplace that has worked with Dolce & Gabbana on its NFTs. . The highest tier costs around $140,000 and around 75 people have joined. The remaining 4,925 NFTs cost around $4,000 each.

“We see this as the future of the luxury industry and web3, which is a very purpose-built utility framework paired with a high-value, self-selected community,” Menon said.

In fact, brands probably shouldn’t bend over backwards to appeal to the crypto community, warned Jessica Greenwalt, creative director of VaynerNFT, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s web3 consultancy. It’s still a small niche in the overall market, and even those buyers aren’t going to the luxury brands because they want a great video game or an amazing metaverse experience. They want the item that drew them to the brand in the first place, like shoes or handbags. NFT programs work best, she believes, as a way to enrich shoppers’ experiences with a brand and engage its super fans — a “loyalty program on steroids,” as she put it.

Another point raised by several speakers was that the technology will be truly effective once consumers don’t even realize it’s there. Right now it’s often clunky, but ideally, as it moves forward, it’ll fall into the background.

As long as brands view Web3 as a long-term opportunity to engage fans, create new revenue streams, or provide more marketing opportunities, crypto projects are likely to continue. It seems that it will take more than the current upheaval to change this perspective.

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