Much has been written about the “mixing” of physical and digital under the sign of “unified commerce”. At the same time, we are being inundated with all things Metaverse, aka Web3. Are they mutually exclusive? A recent Fast Company article looking at the future of fashion on the Web3 is beginning to fill in some of the gaps.
If Web1 was about “reading” and Web2 was about “reading and writing,” then Web3 is about “reading, writing, and owning,” says José Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch. Fashion, says Neves, is a deeply human endeavor and central to who we are as individuals. Fashion allows us to put on different “masks” depending on how we feel, who we want to be, or what we want to portray on any given day. “We always look at technology as enhancing the human interaction between curators, creators and layers of fashion, rather than replacing that human connection.”
Neves continues, “For me, applying Web3 to fashion is applying these principles of user control, user ownership, and decentralized architecture to fashion’s use cases.” Technology enables innovation, even if it means you and your avatar too become “digital twins” by wearing the exact same outfit, extending brand loyalty across the metaverse. Hopefully it’s a good bit more.
A Betta MetaMall
This article brought me back to an April interview I conducted with two Metaverse change agents, Michael Zakkour and Alan Smithson, who are collaborating on an even more robust venture known simply as TheMall. It is referred to as a 100-story, 100-million-square-foot “meta-mall” in cyberspace. The team shared his belief that “retail could drive much of what we call the metaverse.”
Alan and Michael also believe their early adapters will not be “bro dudes” with headsets and crypto wallets, but rather a mainstream market of 20-45 year old women with iPhones. They work with fashion houses to sell products within the mall, as well as with various brands’ in-house creative agencies, or facilitate the “build-out” with the studio of MetaVRse, which Smithson founded with his wife Julie. Their secret ingredient is the fact that, unlike other similar tools, their engine can be deployed across multiple operating systems, browsers, and devices with little or no code. In fact, anyone can be a creator.
“TheMall is a combination of e-commerce and pure experience. Brands see this as a marketing and branding and experience game,” says Michael Zakkour. “Brands can do anything, whether it’s pure experience, NFT, a mix of commerce and experience, it becomes their space to do whatever.” Michael is one of RETHINK Retails’ Top 100 Retail Influencers and believes (like me ) firmly believe that the future of retail is immersive commerce, a seamless merging of online and in-store, the essence of unified commerce. The term “omnichannel” is not used in Michael’s presence, which makes him wince.
Of course, if you want to visit TheMall and make transactions, you have to do it with cryptocurrency. Although crypto assets have wowed the entire world with multiple promises of economic opportunity, they lack tangibility. A US dollar can be seen and touched, but that is not the case with cryptocurrencies. However, cryptocurrencies are recognized as fungible assets and are the basis of “tokenomics”, the hybrid of “token” and “economy”.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) do not have the same value and are therefore unique. NFTs have been trending lately and have generated a lot of interest in tokenomics, especially at high profile NFT auctions. The tokenization of assets such as real estate, artworks, pictures and collectibles with NFT has sparked a new wave of digital ownership while demonstrating the potential of tokens.
is it art
Art has been at the forefront of cultural change for millennia. So it’s not surprising that artists and NFTs are developing a symbiotic relationship, and a lucrative one at that. Many relatively unknown talents have entered NFT art, and now some of the most respected artists and illustrators are expanding beyond traditional media into digital art and NFT tokens.
I recently interviewed Shaun Neff, co-founder of GODA, who Forbes called a “brand whisperer.” GODA describes itself as a “trusted curated resource for leading contemporary artists looking to explore digital as a new medium”. Neff is a serial entrepreneur and has been a founder, investor and advisor to some of the world’s leading brands. These include Neff, Sunbum, Moon, Beachhouse Group, Robinhood, Target
GODA is also carried by some of the biggest names in consumer, art, music, NFT and fashion. Among them are names like Pharrell Williams, Nina Chanel Abney and Todd James. Many of GODA’s artists have built significant followings and reputations in the “analogue” art world before entering the world of digital art and NFTs. As a trusted partner, GODA ensures its artists seamless, impactful drops that respect the value of their art.
occupy a brand position
As Shaun said at the beginning of my interview, the NFT art world is a crazy new space. She has built a strong following because the barriers to entry were very low and unlike analog art there are no middlemen or gatekeepers. And so, just last year, many artists, illustrators and graphic designers jumped into the pool.
In addition to the low barrier to entry, the “tokenomics” behind the transactions are very appealing. The artists who imprint the originals retain ownership of the original artworks even if they are imprinted into a limited number of NFTs that “live” in the Web3 Metaverse.
On the sell side of the equation, it takes a lot more than the artistry and “minting” of the NFT to get noticed, let alone for the work to have lasting value. According to Shaun Neff, ninety-nine percent of those who have their work published don’t hit anyone’s radar, let alone “the whales” or major collectors that dominate the world of digital art collecting.
In the spirit of a veteran branding guy, Shaun notes that beyond creative talent, artists must also embrace the highly strategic and calculated endeavor designed to generate buzz. This is where the work of GODA comes in.
Party on Todd
Todd James is an internationally known artist who began his art career as a teenager in New York City, bringing his unique graffiti to the subway system in the early 1980s. On 08/30th This year, with the help of GODA, Todd minted a new collection of 1,533 NFT images. Mint Pass holders paid 0.333 ETH (worth $527) on September 1st.St and had a 24-hour window to enter a pre-mint raffle for a shot at his new collection. Over 20,000 signed up for a limited number of NFTs that became available. Todd James’ ART PARTY reveal took place on September 6thth 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. Central.
As of 3:00 p.m. CST that day, 804 owners had purchased 546 units. “The reserve price” was 0.46 ETH (about $724.00) for item #545 and #280 had a price of 666 ETH (about $1,047,904). The vast majority were in the mid-single digits ($7,000 to $10,000) at that moment.
As a modest collector of contemporary art, I appreciated Todd James’ satirical, often political, and very pop/street art aesthetic. And I can’t help but think of mid-century artists like Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol or Claes Oldenburg in comparison. It was a big event in their time when these pop art icons released a new print edition of, say, a dozen images. Each image may have been made available over a few hundred signed prints that were essentially identical. In comparison, each of Todd James’ more than 1500 images is unique with its own digital ‘fingerprint’. Warhol would indeed be impressed.
The artist pension
The other major benefit for the artist is that when trading NFT on the secondary market, they get a cut of it and every subsequent sale. And since all transactions take place in the Metaverse, there should never be any doubt as to the authenticity or provenance of the image. Talk about an annuity.
Another GODA artist who has recently entered the world of NFTs is famed African American contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abney. Her first-ever NFT collection “Super Cool World” on the GODA NFT platform consisted of 5,080 NFTs composed of hundreds of features designed by Nina reflecting her “frenetic, collage-like approach to visual media”. Minting began on July 14thth For those who won the raffle on the eligible list, 60,000 raffle entries were public. Mint Pass holders have been guaranteed the ability to purchase.
Nina is most interested in keeping her collector fans in the family. To reward loyalty and limit secondary market transactions, she has indicated that owners will gain access to “exclusive Nina merchandise, collaborative product releases, airdrops, events, incentives to attend exhibitions, and surprise raffles.”
sea change or wait and see?
What does all this mean for the “established art scene,” let alone filling the spaces above our fireplaces? Well, according to Shaun Neff, we can expect future NFT collectors to buy enlarged digital screens to decorate the walls of our homes with the ever-changing NFTs. No doubt it is controlled by our phones or smart homes. And of course, Todd James and Nina Abney’s NFTs will be proudly displayed on the walls of our Metaverse mansions for our avatars to enjoy.