Paris Fashion Week started with a bang on Monday with many fashion houses pulling out all of the stops to attract new fans. Among them are upcoming designer Victor Weinsanto and established house Balmain, which are both experimenting with NFTs to increase access to their brands.
Not only did Jean Paul Gaultier’s pupil Victor Weinsanto cast an array of artists to walk in his show – think Rochas’s designer Charles de Vilmorin and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” France star La Grande Dame – he also went all in on digital fashion.
Weinsanto created a dedicated collection and avatar launch of eight digital wearables with K-Pop band Lightsum and digital fashion agency Brand New Vision. Weinsanto worked in collaboration with each of the band members to create unique fashion outfits that represented their styles and personalities. These were then translated into fully clothed digital avatars by BNV’s metaverse division. “My idea was to connect to the Lightsum spirit. Each girl has such a strong personality, and that was really inspiring to me,” Weinsanto said in a statement.
The Victor Weinsanto wearables will be sold as NFTs, offering real-world and digital benefits, including fashion show and concert access, greeting videos from the band, and previews from the designer. The NFTs will launch at the end of October to coincide with BNV’s metaverse world launch called BNV World.
As more K-pop stars look to fashion capitals like Paris, digital wearable technology could prove to be a good entry point to engage with Parisian designers and bring in more K-pop fans. Korea’s population and East Asia are more familiar with avatars than Western consumers. Seoul is also one of the first metropolitan governments to build a 3.9 billion-won metaverse platform to allow citizens to access public services virtually, making it a key player for future fashion web3 activations.
Brand New Vision has become a go-to for fashion brand collaborations, previously working with British designer Priya Ahluwalia as well as fashion magazine Dazed for the magazine’s 30th-anniversary cover, featuring Rihanna.
“How tech and fashion people work are still two separate worlds,” said Brand New Vision founder and CEO Richard Hobbs. “A designer right now still thinks about what they want at the end, while the tech person will iterate until that is where they want it to be. Because you are sometimes dealing with such fixed visions in fashion, that can clash with the digital expectations.”
Luxury houses like Balmain, are solving that problem with an approach that is slightly more sophisticated, with a dedicated feature tied to its Balmain Festival show on Thursday. It debuted its new membership club The Balmain Thread on Thursday. The club is launching in partnership with marketplace MintNFT.
“The world is moving towards a future where the physical and digital continue to merge,” said Balmain CMO Txampi Diz in a statement. “The Balmain Thread serves as a flagship in Web3 fashion, as we strive to build an engaged global community that fosters deeper relationships with existing customers while introducing our brand to new audiences.”
But that engagement needs to be seamless. James Sun, co-founder and CEO of MintNFT, said that the company has seen luxury consumers having difficulty in setting up a decentralized wallet to hold and manage their crypto and NFTs. “It is a big pain point for regular consumers that are non-crypto natives to do this. We are providing an integrated custodial wallet [for Balmain].”
As luxury customers hope to engage with their favorite brands through membership programs, a custodial wallet offers them the perks from the brand without having to set up their own crypto wallet. The wallet works without a need for crypto through multi-party computation [MPC]. Multi-party computation is a cryptographic tool that allows customers to trade their Balmain access.
The first series of members of Balmain’s Thread will be invited during its show this week, with a goal of reaching 10,000 of the house’s most passionate customers and fans. The perks of the club will include invitations to exclusive events, collections, and digital experiences as well as VIP sneak peeks, community voting privileges and non-profit funding.