NFT GOLD RUSH

Is This The Future For Sustainable Fashion?
After the pandemic, we have all become much more reliant on our technology, from working remotely over Zoom to replacing our window shopping with browsing online stores. Since 2020, we have seen the fashion industry take a leap into the metaverse with more and more designers choosing to showcase their collections virtually during fashion week. NFT technology, in particular, is expanding the world's sartorial horizons. For those not fluent in gaming terminology, NFT stands for "non-fungible token" which translates to a digital asset used to represent a physical object. NFTs have a built-in authenticity certificate to allow buyers to possess complete ownership over their product even in online space. The commodities can be both tangible and intangible such as art, GIFs, videos, collectables, virtual avatars, video game identities and now virtual clothes.
Using blockchain technology, NFT allows fashion to connect to the gaming industry. You can now establish your own identity in the gaming universe by dressing your avatar. Sneakers and streetwear brands such as RTFKT are pioneering our escapade into virtual fashion. RTFKT have noticed the rise in popularity in the gaming world and have collaborated with digital artist, Fewocious Rimowa, to create virtual sneakers that stylishly transcend the physical into the digital. Balenciaga and Fortnite have similarly joined the bandwagon bringing high-fashion to video game characters who can now enter a virtual Balenciaga store to purchase a designer closet.
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Courtesy of Epic Games
NFT technology is not only restricted to the gaming industry, it also transcends into our everyday social media use. Contactless fashion items can be pasted onto your Instagram images to transform your grid into a lookbook of gravity-defying cyber garments. Tribute Brand has been the trailblazer for the contactless cyber fashion trend and has collaborated with The Dematerialised to create a metaphysical clothing collection called 'The Real Deal'. Tribute and The Dematerialised are using NFTs and CGI 3D modelling to experiment with silhouettes and create glowing colour palettes to amplify the visual experience when it comes to fashion.

"We are entering a new version of the future, one where representation precedes and conditions the real. In digital fashion, the domain of the real connects to the represented images, and a future of simulacra remains" – Founder, Gala Marija Vrbanic and Digital Fashion Designer, Filip Vajda of Tribute Brand.

More and more luxury companies are switching out fabric for pixels in their NFT collections. Fashion brands can now sell their own show videos or backstage photos as NFTs to enhance the digital fashion experience. Gucci, in particular, partnered with the art auction house Christie's on an NFT film inspired by their Aria collection and it sold for $25,000. The luxury market seems to be changing but will we see more mainstream fashion companies take the plunge into cyber fashion with NFT?

I hear you, the idea of spending money on virtual objects might seem a bit strange but, for our materialistic society, this may be the development we need in consumerism to benefit the environment. There are advantages to introducing NFTs to the fashion market. Not only does this allow customers more representation in the online space, which in a post-pandemic world is what more people are craving, but the zero-infantry model of NFT may also finally be a solution to making fashion sustainable and end the vicious cycle of throwaway culture. NFTs highlight the origin, materials and travel distance used in creating the item, which allows brands to be more transparent with their products and allows for the consumer to make more ethical choices when it comes to the brands they support. Designers can also be more creative with conceptualizing new collections free from the boundaries put in place by manufacturing physical garments. Customers can get the satisfaction of acquiring items from luxury brands and being part of the heritage of luxury culture without contributing to unsustainable fashion. For many customers, simply owning a high-fashion, luxury item or the label from a prestigious brand is enough without the need for the physical garment and this will also help to protect the luxury market from counterfeit goods. Likewise, NFTs are having an effect on the resell market allowing customers to see an accurate map of ownership changes and giving the brand more control over their products beyond the sale.

This seems to be the dream solution to our fast fashion problem, right? Unfortunately, we're not quite there. Blockchain technology isn't as sustainable as we may think, a lot of computing is needed to enter records onto blockchains, and energy consumption and carbon impact from cryptocurrency mining does have a detrimental impact on the planet by using up valuable resources. Nevertheless, there are definitely environmental benefits from digital fashion by reducing global pollution from the retail industry, which takes us steps closer to reaching the goal of fully sustainable fashion.

This does feel like a leap into a sci-fi universe to switch out our physical fashion for a virtual wardrobe. Will the use of NFTs and contactless fashion advance from a bizarre trend in luxury stores to something we see a lot more of in high-street brands? One thing is for sure, we may be closer than we think to heading down the road in a flying car to a Back To The Future kind of reality.
Article by May Garland