2020/2021 were big years for NFTS. People were talking about all things NFTs.
Buying them, investing in them, the risks, the highs and lows and, more philosophically, debating what was the point of them at all!
Mostly, all this hype, talk and speculation was taking place in the NFT art world, however, there is also a smaller, but burgeoning, category of NFTs - fashion NFTs - and that is what we will be discussing in this article.
As well as this talk about NFTs, digital fashion has also made its way into common topics of discussion - especially now that Meta has launched luxury brands like Balenciaga and Prada in its Avatar stores to be available for purchase if you are a fashionista wanting to wear metaverse fashion while hanging out in Zucks new digital world.
Meta have stated that in future they want to open the digital space for emerging fashion designers, as well as established luxury fashion brands, as well as digital-only brands. This is big news and very exciting for the entire fashion industry.
People get a little confused when discussing digital fashion and fashion NFTs. Some people think they are the same thing and some people misunderstand their features and benefits. Actually, although there is overlap, they have quite distinct use cases.
So, briefly let us explain and define the broad sense of what this is all about.
Digital Fashion is anything which is a fashion item and that only exists digitally - as virtual fashion. It does not exist as a physical item which you can wear in real life. It can be a dress, it can be a shoe or a bag. It can be something that moves and acts in a way that a similar item, in real life, could never move or act.
For example, a digital dress can have lightning shooting from its sleeves, and of course, that is not possible in real life. Therefore digital clothing has become associated with fantasy and may have a theatrical or cos-play element, although it can be as plain and simple as a vanilla tee-shirt too.
In fact, a lot of the digital clothing for avatars in metaverses such as Decentraland is very simple, everyday clothing.
So what are NFTs?
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets which are minted on the blockchain. They can be anything - for example, a picture, a video, a piece of music, a drawing, a ticket to an event, or even can represent a real-world asset such as real estate.
What makes an NFT an NFT is that they are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain with their own metadata and cannot be replicated. The NFT proves ownership and authenticity as each one is unique which is one of the key reasons for creating them in the first place.
It means you cannot easily copy or counterfeit creations and steal intellectual property - which has always been an issue in fashion and art.
The overlap between digital fashion and NFT fashion is this: a fashion NFT can be digital fashion but digital fashion is not always an NFT. This is because digital fashion does not always need to be minted and stored on the blockchain.
A good way to understand this is to look at a fashion marketplace like DRESS X - although all the items are digital fashion pieces which you can buy to wear online, they are not all minted on the blockchain as NFTs.
This means they are usually not limited in supply, not tradeable on the secondary NFT market and do not have any readily realisable investor or collectable value as you are not able to prove it is an 'original'.
So when do you need to make sure that your digital fashion purchase is an NFT?
That's a good question.
NFTs tend to be more expensive because there is a cost involved in minting them and artists and creators only do that if the work is unique and original in some way and is probably only going to be made available in limited quantities.
Minting it as an NFT would then mean that people can prove they own one of the limited edition pieces and can then pass on ownership by selling it later on. This is how value is captured and passed on in the asset.
So, for example, if Reebok or Nike created 1000 digital sneakers they would be minted as NFTs so people know they got the original or actual digital assets and not a digital fake.
So if you are buying something that is a piece of unique art or fashion or art that depicts a fashion object (which we at MERCURY DASHA call 'fashion-art'), then you would probably want to own that as an NFT.
Whereas we usually use the term digital fashion to mean fashion that is actually worn and showcased online, captured in a photo, used on social media, or shown through AR or VR, it is not always the case that a fashion NFT is purchased to be immediately 'worn' or showcased on the body digitally.
For example, you may buy a fashion NFT that is a video of a sneaker rotating in an atmosphere but you would not be able to wear that (unless there is functionality and platform to allow you to do so). However fashion and sneaker lovers would still see this as a worthwhile purchase.
This is where fashion and art collide and make fashion-art.
This is a category of fashion that is less about usability but more about appreciation of fashion as an art form.
Of course, you can also buy wearable pieces of fashion that are NFTs. Usually, they are made to be worn in a specific metaverse or digital space - the most common of which, at the moment, is Decentraland. But equally, there are many popular games and other meta spaces that also allow for NFT fashion creation, buying, selling and collecting.
This is a very basic summary, and we hope we haven't confused you but, in summary, we are sure, in future, more digital fashion will be made and consumed, whether as NFTs or otherwise, so this is worth understanding at a basic level.
At the same time, we are excited about the whole development of fashion as art creation, which MERCURY DASHA has explored when developing its first two NFT collections.
We have always believed fashion IS art and NFTs highlight that and allow for fashion to exist as art and hence in a purer way than ever before.
As always, watch this space!
And check our fashion-art NFT collections below.