NFTs are set to be one of 2021’s hottest digital trends. They have taken the art world by storm and are quickly moving into new territory with fashion brands climbing on board and even architects making digital sales.
What are NFTs?
NFTs are unique digital tokens (NFT stands from non-fungible token). This means the goods are one-of-a-kind digital assets and the NFTs serve as a digital certificate of ownership. NFTs use blockchain technology which means a digital ledger is created – maintained by thousands of computers around the world. This record of who owns the work therefore cannot be forged.
Unique material goods have value as they can’t be exactly replicated (take a famous painting for example) but with digital work this value has been harder to create and define because perfect duplicates of the file can be easily and endlessly created. With NFTs, a file can still be copied but there now exists an inviolable record of who actually owns the original work. Those promoting NFTs say that this allows for the better valuation of digital work as collectibles.
Can they make real money?
The most headline-grabbing sales of this year include Nyan cat – a remastered version of a 2011 iconic internet meme of a flying cat - selling for more than $500,000 in February. Christie’s auction house also hosted its first digital-only art auction with American graphic designer, Beeple and the final sale price was over $69M. 22 million people also tuned into the last minute of the livestream.
These astronomical figures are raising eyebrows around the world with even Beeple commenting: “I actually do think there will be a bubble, to be quite honest. And I think we could be in that bubble right now”.
Regardless of boom and bust concerns, luxury fashion is set to step into the tech craze - perhaps seeing it as the next step up from “skins”. Gucci is among big names that have indicated they are working on an NFT offering, perhaps unsurprisingly given the brand’s recent digital experiments. The most famous of these was the launch of $12 virtual sneakers aimed at consumers who can’t afford the real-life version.
Anna Tong of Vogue Business has posed important questions “Will the crypto-wealthy, who are mostly young and male, be interested in luxury fashion NFTs? What would they look like and would buyers get any utility from them?”.
NFT fashion items so far have mainly been art pieces but the race is on to create an experiential consumer experience. Australian start-up Neuno is currently working with major fashion houses to develop a filter where NFT owners can actually wear the digital garments in photos. The race is on, and the message for fashion and tech enthusiasts is stay tuned…