Much has been written about the “mixing” of physical and digital under the umbrella of “one-stop shop”. At the same time, we are inundated with all things metaverse, aka Web3. Are they mutually exclusive? Recently Fast Company article looking at the future of fashion in Web3 begins to fill in some gaps.
If Web1 was about “reading” and Web2 was about “reading and writing,” then Web3 is about “reading, writing, and owning,” it says Founder of Farfetch and CEO José Neves. Fashion, says Neves, is a deeply human endeavor and a key part of who we are as individuals. Fashion allows us to put on different “masks” based on how we feel, who we want to be, or what we want to portray on any given day. “We always feel that technology enhances the human interaction between curators, creators and the fashion level, rather than replacing that human connection.”
Neves continues, “For me, the definition of a Web3 fashion app is applying these principles of user control, user ownership, and decentralized architecture to fashion use cases.” Technology enables innovation, even if it means you and your avatar become “digital twins” by wear the exact same clothes, extending brand loyalty across the metaverse. I hope it is much more.
That article brought me back to April interview I have worked with two metaverse change agents, Michael Zakkour and Alan Smithsonwho are collaborating on an even more powerful venture, known simply as Shopping center. It’s being billed as a 100-story, 100-million-square-foot “metamall” in cyberspace. The team shared their belief that “retail can drive a lot of what we call the metaverse”.
Alan and Michael further believe that their early adopters will not be the headphone-wearing, crypto-wallet-wearing “bro types,” but rather the mainstream market of iPhone-toting 20-45-year-old women. They work with fashion houses to sell products inside the shopping center, as well as with creative agencies of various brands or facilitate the “build” with MetaVRse‘s studio, which Smithson founded with his wife Julie. Their secret sauce 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 are looking at this as a marketing and branding and experiential game.” Michael Zakkour says. “Brands can do anything, whether it’s pure experience, NFT, a mix of commerce and experience, it’s going to become their space to do anything with it.” Michael is one of the PROMISLI retailers Top 100 Retail Influencers and firmly believes (as do I) that the future of retail is “immersive shopping,” the seamless merging of online and retail, the essence of unified commerce. The man doesn’t use the term “omnichannel” in Michael’s presence, it makes him cringe.
If you visit TheMall and want to transact, of course you’ll need to do so with cryptocurrency. Although crypto-assets have thrilled the world with several promises of economic opportunity, they lack tangibility. The US dollar can be seen and touched, but this is not the case with cryptocurrencies. However, cryptocurrencies are recognized as fungible assets and are the basis of “tokenomies”, a mixture of “tokens” and “economies”.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) they do not share the same value and are therefore unique. NFTs have been trending lately and have generated a lot of interest in Tokenomics, especially with high-profile NFT auctions. The tokenization of assets such as real estate, artwork, paintings, and collectibles with NFTs has ushered in a new wave of digital ownership while also 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 NFT develop a symbiotic relationship, and a lucrative one at that. Many relatively unknown talents have broken into 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 GOOD, whom Forbes called “The Brand Whisperer”. GODA describes itself as “a trusted curated source 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 GroupRobinhood, Target
Sony, Sandbox, Outlier Ventures and more.
GODA is also headlined by some of the biggest names in consumer, art, music, NFT and fashion. Names like Pharrell Williams, Nina Chanel Abney, and Todd James among them. Many GODA artists have built significant followings and reputations in the “analog” art world before entering the world of digital art and NFT. As trusted partners, GODA provides its artists with flawless, eye-catching drops that respect the value of their art.
As Shaun said at the beginning of my interview, the art world of NFT is a crazy new space. It built a strong following because the barriers to entry were very low, and unlike analog art, there are no middlemen or gatekeepers. And as a result, many artists, illustrators and graphic designers have jumped into the pool, especially in the last year.
In addition to the low barrier to entry, the “tokenomics” behind the transactions are very attractive. The artists who mint the originals effectively retain ownership of the original artwork, even when it becomes minted in a limited number of NFTs that “live” in the Web3 metaverse.
On the sales side of the equation, it takes significantly more than the artistry and “minting” of NFTs to get noticed, let alone for the work to achieve lasting value. According to Shaun Neff, ninety-nine percent of those who have exhibited their work there don’t hit anyone’s radar, let alone the “whales” or big collectors who dominate the world of digital art collecting.
In true branding veteran spirit, Shaun notes that beyond creative talent, artists must be involved in a very strategic and calculated endeavor designed to generate buzz. This is where GODA’s work comes into play.
Party On Todd
Todd James is an internationally known artist who began his artistic career as a teenager in New York adding his unique graffiti to the subway system in the early 1980s. On August 30th this year, Todd forged a new collection of 1,533 NFT images with the help of GODA. Mint Pass holders paid 0.333 ETH ($527 value) on September 1st and had 24 hours. pre-mint raffle window for a chance at his new collection. Over 20,000 applied for the limited number of NFTs that became available. Todd James “ART PARTY” reveal was on September 6thth 9am PT/12pm Central.
By 3:00 PM CST that day, 804 owners had purchased 546 units. The “price floor” was 0.46 ETH (approximately $724.00 USD) for items #545 and #280 were priced at 666 ETH (approximately $1,047,904 USD). The vast majority at that point were in the mid-single digits ($7,000-$10,000).
As a modest collector of contemporary art, I appreciated the satirical, often political and very pop/street art aesthetic of Todd James. And I can’t help but think of mid-century artists like Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol or Claes Oldenburg in comparison. In their time, it was a big event when these pop art icons released a new print edition of, say, a dozen paintings. Each image could be accessed through several hundred signed prints, which were essentially identical. By comparison, each of Todd James’ over 1,500 paintings is unique, with its own digital “fingerprint.” Warhol would be impressed, indeed.
The Artist Annuity
Another huge benefit to the artist is that when the NFT trades on the secondary market, they get a cut of that and any subsequent sales. And since all transactions take place in the metaverse, there should never be any doubt about the authenticity or origin of the image. We’re talking about an annuity.
Another GODA artist who has recently moved into the world of NFT is the renowned African-American contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abney. Her first NFT collection “Super Cool World” on the GODA NFT platform consisted of 5,080 NFTs consisting of hundreds of features designed by Nina and reflecting her “frenetic, collage-like approach to visual media”. Minting began on July 14th for those who won the prize list allowed, 60,000 raffle entries were public. Mint Pass holders were guaranteed a shopping opportunity.
Nina is most interested in keeping her collector fans in the family. So to reward loyalty and reduce secondary market transactions, she did hinted owners get access to “exclusive Nina merchandise, product co-releases, airdrops, events, incentivized trade show participation and surprise draws.”
Sea Change, or Wait and See?
What does all this mean for the “established artistic community”, not to mention filling the space above our fireplaces? Well, according to Shaun Neff, we can expect future NFT collectors to buy enlarged digital displays to adorn the walls of our homes with ever-changing NFTs. No doubt it will be controlled by our phones or smart homes. And, of course, the Todd James and Nina Abney NFTs will be proudly displayed on the walls of our metaverse castles for our avatars to enjoy.