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RTFKT enters the real world

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Courtesy of RTFKT

RTFKT enters the real world

 

The Future. Virtual sneaker brand RTFKT is putting its Nike ownership to good use with the physical release of its popular “Cryptokicks” sneaker. The “Cryptokicks iRL” may not be the first virtual-to-physical shoe to hit the market (that honor goes to EQLZ), but it may be the first to capture mainstream attention. And with a chip built into the shoe to allow for physical and digital experiences, don’t be surprised if Nike enables compatibility with its activity-based Roblox world, NIKELAND.

Enter IRL
RTFKT is pulling a reverse Tron, reports Highsnobiety.

  • RTFKT’s physical “Cryptokicks iRL” sneaker will be available in four colorways with customizable lights, wireless charging, and Nike’s always-in-demand self-lacing technology a la Back to the Future Part II.
  • And staying true to its roots, the shoes have a built-in chip to connect with an NFT version of the shoe so that the physical editions can be authenticated.
  • The chip also connects to a Cryptokicks iRL app so owners can build community and “engage… in quests and events merging physical and digital.”

So how do you snag a pair? Holders of RTFKT Lace Engine NFT will get first dibs to buy one of the 19,000 pairs between December 12-16 for 0.38 ETH (or $478 at the moment).

And between today and December 9, those who don’t have NFTs can register for a draw on RTFKT’s Cryptokicks website. They’ll get the opportunity to buy any remaining pairs on December 14 for 0.5 ETH ($630).

Blended footwear
RTKFT’s move into the physical realm has felt like a long-time coming, considering how it has helped Nike enter the metaverse (and back again).

  • In April, it released Nike’s customizable “Dunk Genesis” on OpenSea, which sold for upwards of $6,000 per pair.
  • In collaboration with Nike, it brought to life digital-first designs of Nike’s Air Force 1s, dubbed “Space Drip,” created by 19 different artists.
  • RTFKT’s tech and know-how was likely foundational for Nike’s semi-secretive dotSwoosh Web3 storefront.

But RTFKT has been signaling its own move into the real world over the past year. It released the “CloneX” digital apparel line that could be “forged” into physical goods. Those pieces also had the corresponding NFT chips built in — a good test case for how they would work in the shoes.

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Shannon Abloh continues designing Virgil’s legacy

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Illustration by Kate Walker

Shannon Abloh continues designing Virgil’s legacy

 

The Future. Shannon Abloh, the widow of renowned designer Virgil Abloh, is outlining all the ways she plans on making his memory and work live on for decades. With his hands in brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, Off-White, and so many others, Abloh’s creations may still revolutionize fashion and design — thanks to Ms. Abloh’s curation.

Eternal reach
Shannon Abloh breaks down to NYT how she’s picking up Virgil’s mantle.

  • She’s bringing all of his creative ventures — including his London-based creative studio Alaska Alaska and a joint venture with Nike called Architecture — under the newly-created Virgil Abloh Securities.
  • During this week’s Miami Art Week, she’s introducing a four-day festival developed by VA Securities and Nike that will “celebrate Mr. Abloh’s life and open-source his ideas. She hopes it will become an annual event.”
  • The festival, which will take place at the Rubell Museum in Miami, will include discussions, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, and a skateboard competition.

Ms. Abloh, in her role as the president of the Virgil Abloh Foundation, is hosting a summit next spring that will bring together Virgil’s many collaborators to brainstorm ways to increase creative opportunities for the next generation of minority students.

The goal of the summit, and of the foundation at large, is to give 12-to-17-year-olds “the portfolios they need” to follow in Virgil’s footsteps in design, architecture, and many other creative endeavors.

Pass on the making
But Ms. Abloh is also making sure that Virgil’s many creations — those already in the works and those that have been under lock and key — see the light of day.

  • The festival will also be the launch of the Nike Air Terra Forma — “the first sneaker Mr. Abloh created from scratch for Nike and its next big release.”
  • John Hoke, the chief creative officer at Nike, said there’s “at least a year’s worth” of Off-White x Nike collabs that are “in the pipeline.”
  • Ms. Abloh also wants to bring to life the “hundreds of projects that he worked on that he never put out.”

Howard Feller, Virgil’s business advisor who is now in that role for Ms. Abloh, said that “we are on the 50-year plan.” Considering how much is in the works, the influence may go way beyond that.

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Crocs slip on a new design

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Courtesy of Crocs

Crocs slip on a new design

 

The Future. Crocs selected respected designer Salehe Bembury to create a new design for the brand — the first time the company has ever let someone update its clog. The fresh design could fulfill Crocs’ ambition to expand its brand and capture the sneakerheads driving shoe sales through the roof these days.

Updated comfort
Crocs hope to mold a new classic.

  • According to Fast Company, the company has partnered with Salehe Bembury — who has made sneakers for Yeezy, New Balance, and Versace — on a brand new version of its injected-molded foam clogs.
  • Bembury called the original Crocs clog “an iconic silhouette,” of which there are “only about 10 iconic silhouettes [in all of shoes].” So his challenge was to build on top of that and create something “polarizing.”
  • The resulting shoe is closer in shape to a sneaker and looks like something out of David Cronenberg’s sci-fi classic, eXistenZ.
  • The mold even includes Bembury’s fingerprint in three places (which he jokes will probably get him implicated in a crime in the future).

The Salehe Bembury x Crocs Pollex Clog runs $85 and will be out on December 14.

Stepping it up
The Pollex Clog is admittedly made for the hypebeasts. Crocs president Michelle Poole said that the company doesn’t have an “awareness problem” but a “relevance issue.” Everyone knows Crocs, but now the company wants to convince more people to wear Crocs. Bembury’s resume makes him a great fit to reach that goal.

But love them or hate them, Crocs are having a hot moment. Sales were flat-footed for a decade but jumped in 2019 and 2020. And this year is proving to be just as successful, with the company reporting growth around 65%.

I’d like to think it’s all because of the ranch dressing clogs the brand made in collaboration with Hidden Valley Ranch. Now that’s some drip.

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Nike puts a Web3 storefront up to the test

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Courtesy of Nike

Nike puts a Web3 storefront up to the test

 

The Future. Nike is opening a Web3 shopping platform, dubbed dotSwoosh, that will evolve into a “community-driven” store to sell virtual shoes and clothes that will also act as tokens to physical experiences and IRL fits. Having already tasted some of the success from its RTFKT acquisition, the new platform is built to be very user-friendly for those new to NFTs… which could prove to be a key way to get people on the blockchain without having to think of any of the complicated, behind-the-scenes tech know-how.

NFTs, but make it comfort
Nike is unboxing its dotSwoosh site.

  • According to Fast Company, dotSwoosh will eventually become the company’s official destination for buying virtual sneakers and other apparel used in the metaverse or video games.
  • Nike will feature designs made by in-house designers and also community-sourced designers that win branded contests.
  • The creators from the community will be able to share in the sales revenue thanks to the platform being built on the Polygon blockchain.

At the moment, dotSwoosh is just a “barebones” website where users can register for an account starting on November 18, while the first collection won’t drop until early next year.

A mainstream fit
The site will also focus on the virtual goods having a real-world utility, like NFTs acting as tokens for “access to the preorder of a physical shoe that comes in several months, or a virtual shoe that one day opens access to a token gated community of Nike designs so you can vote on [future] colorways for physical shoes,” according to Ron Faris, head of Nike’s Virtual Studios division. Faris ran the SNKRS app for the past seven years.

A key aspect of dotSwoosh is that it’s meant to be easy to use, essentially being targeted to those that have avoided NFTs because of their relatively high barrier to entry. All sales will be in USD (not a variety of cryptocurrencies). And Nike opted for “.nike” instead of “.com” to own the domain and protect users from scammers.

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Pharrell launches Joopiter to sell his collectibles

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Illustration by Kate Walker

Pharrell launches Joopiter to sell his collectibles

 

The Future.

Pharrell Williams is taking celebrity memorabilia to the next level with the launch of his Joopiter platform, which will give fans the ability to own pieces from his personal collection, accompanied by stories behind what they mean to the legendary musician. With fans flocking to purchase celebrity collections on resale platforms like Grailed and Depop, Pharrell’s platform could become the go-to place to find items with a little more TLC built into them.

The story of things
Pharrell has some stuff to sell.

  • Fast Company reports that the musician/entrepreneur/NFT executive is launching an auction portal and content platform called Joopiter, which is designed by the Virgil Abloh-founded creative studio, Alaska Alaska.
  • Inspired by Marie Kondo, Pharrell hopes to offload countless personal pieces and even his own creations. Each object will be accompanied by media that tells the unique story behind it.
  • Eventually, he plans to open up the platform to any celebrity looking to Marie Kondo in a cool way.

Of the items that will be auctioned off, Pharrell said that they are “proof that something happened and the intention behind it. The outcome is that you’re buying a story. You’re not only getting things that I designed and my inventions, but you’re also getting a piece of those epiphanies.”

Famous artifacts
The first auction, dubbed “Son of Pharaoh” (named after his dad, Pharaoh), starts at 9 am on October 20 and runs until October 27.

Fifty-two pieces will be up for sale, including “personal memorabilia, like Williams’s Princess Anne High School drumline letterman jacket, to custom one-of-one luxury goods designed by the superstar, like a pair of hand-painted Adidas Consortium Python Stan Smiths and a Billionaire Boys Club Louis Vuitton steamer trunk.”

All proceeds will go to the nonprofit Black Ambition, which invests in Black and Latin entrepreneurs, especially women working in wellness and fashion.

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How Louis Vuitton will crown a new designer

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Illustration by Kate Walker

How Louis Vuitton will crown a new designer

 

The Future. LVMH, the owner of Louis Vuitton, has been searching for a designer to run creative at the brand after the sudden passing of Virgil Abloh. Considering Abloh’s monumental impact not just on Louis Vuitton (and his ability to make the brand cool to a new, diverse generation of consumers) but on the industry at large, the post may be the biggest shoes to fill in fashion.

The annals of Abloh

Business of Fashion breaks down the quest for Virgil Abloh’s successor.

  • LVMH has been on the hunt for nearly a year to find a replacement.
  • It’s reportedly considering Martine Rose (who runs her own self-titled label), Grace Wales Bonner (who runs Wales Bonner), and Telfar Clemens (who runs TELFAR).

The group expects to make a decision in the coming weeks.

Fashion an heir

How does a major fashion house like LVMH choose its next clothing chief?

  • First, the company’s leadership — the CEO, the board of directors, the founders — must decide if they’ll “evolve” the brand (usually, elevating someone inside the company, or “overhaul” it (usually, hiring someone outside the company).
  • Then they look for someone who has a clear vision, is a good communicator, and can work in a corporate environment — all things that are a bit more important than being technically proficient at design.
  • Potential candidates are then given a creative assignment to execute, which could be anything from creating a brand book to “conceiving a room in the brand’s essence.”

After taking into account the candidate’s ability to simultaneously run their own label, the power of their own personal brand, and hearing from the label’s CEO, it’s the group’s CEO that makes the final decision.

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Thrifting was the big commerce hit of 2021

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illustration by Kate Walker

Thrifting was the big commerce hit of 2021

 

The Future. Secondhand shopping is all the rage thanks to economic pressures, a push for sustainability, and trends on TikTok. While a raft of platforms has popped up to support the enterprising thrifter — ThredUP, Depop, TheRealReal — brands are threading secondhand shopping right into their business plans… which could soon be a major revenue driver as customers search for a good deal.

Rack it up

Per Input, secondhand shopping put up some first-rate numbers.

  • A recent report from OfferUp found that the recommerce market — encompassing everything from fashion to furniture to electronics —grew by a record 15% last year.
  • 272 million Americans now buy or sell pre-owned products, spending an average of 27 minutes a day on secondhand marketplaces (almost as much time as they spend on social media).
  • Why the move to secondhand? 50% say it’s for the discounts (inflation is a big driver), while 21% cite wanting to lower their carbon footprint.
  • Additionally, two out of five Americans — with an ever higher percentage of Gen Zers and Millennials —  sell secondhand as a primary or secondary form of income.

And secondhand shopping isn’t heading to the clearance rack anytime soon — spending is expected to hit $289 billion by 2027.

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Genies conjures up an NFT fashion marketplace

Courtesy of Genies

Genies conjures up an NFT fashion marketplace

 

The Future. Genies is making it possible for users of its digital-avatar creation tools to now outfit their virtual identities for the metaverse, thanks to its new NFT virtual fashion storefront, dubbed “The Warehouse.” By also allowing users to create their own lines and their customers to remix those lines into something new, Genies may create the first remix economy in fashion… a potential boon to female designers who make up 85% of The Warehouse’s waitlist.

The mall of the metaverse
TechCrunch reports that Genies is getting into the virtual fashion game.

  • The digital avatar startup partnered with Dapper Labs to open “The Warehouse,” which will exist on the Flow blockchain.
  • The virtual fashion marketplace, which has been in beta since December, is now open to everyone, letting users outfit the avatars they make on Genies with unique digital items.
  • Genies will only take a 5% fee of sales — much less than the nearly 50% cut that Meta will take from its virtual fashion game.
  • Only approved sellers will be able to auction off their virtual fashion lines, but the company plans to roll out that capability to all its users in the near future.

One of the first creators to see their designs hit digital shelves is fashion photographer Tati Bruening, who is famous for starting the “Make Instagram Instagram Again” movement.

Designer democracy
One of the most ingenious aspects of The Warehouse is that once the clothes are purchased, they can be customized by the owner into a new line and resold.

Because each piece is an NFT, the original designer will also get a royalty for the sales of the new piece and still own the original IP. It’s as if someone bought a Levi’s jean jacket, put a bunch of cool patches on the back, and sold it on Depop… but now Levi’s makes money off that sale again.

While other avatar startups, like Ready Player Me, are focused on creating avatars that can travel across the metaverse, Genies is focused on making sure its world is one where users want to stay. Founder and CEO Akash Nigam said that he hopes Genies will evolve into a “full-fledged social network.”

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RTFKT mints NFTs as physical goods

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Courtesy of RTFKT

RTFKT mints NFTs as physical goods

 

The Future. RTFKT’s new collection, dubbed CloneX, is not just exclusive to NFT holders but allows virtual items to be “forged” into physical ones and connected via a chip to their digital counterparts. Reminiscent of EQLZ’s sneaker accelerator and RTFKT’s collab with its owner, Nike, RTFKT could be mainstreaming a future where the value of our IRL wardrobe can be affected by its counterpart in the metaverse (and vice versa).

Forged in Web3
Highsnobiety reports that RTFKT is melding digital and physical fashion.

  • Nike-owned RTFKT is debuting a collection called CloneX, which is available to people who hold the CloneX token to redeem physical and digital goods.
  • Holders can mint up to two items that correspond with the respective “DNA” of their NFT (Human, Robot, Demon, Angel, Reptile, Undead, and Alien). They’re also eligible to receive a piece from the brand’s earlier collection, GenesisX.
  • All the t-shirts, hoodies, pants, socks, and hats in the collection can then be “forged” into physical goods, giving the NFT holder a limited-edition item virtually and IRL.
  • Each physical piece (except for socks and hats) that is forged will also have a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip stitched into them so it can be linked with the corresponding NFT.

The collection drops today on RTFKT’s website.

Phygital
RTFKT, which is quickly becoming the most innovative player in Web3 fashion, is demonstrating how pieces that exist both physically and digitally can raise the value of their counterparts in both.

  • By allowing NFT holders to forge their virtual items into physical ones, it gives them a limited-edition item both virtually and IRL.
  • The NFC chips act almost like a real-world blockchain, potentially allowing buyers to check where the pieces have been in IRL, which could affect their resale value.

As Highsnobiety’s Joseph Genest puts it: “Was this garment worn to the Super Bowl? Was it once owned by Drake?” Having a ledger to confirm answers to those questions could add a couple of zeroes when the clothes are eventually put up for auction on StockX.

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Zero10 and Crosby Studios set up a virtual store… in IRL NYC

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Courtesy of Crosby Studios and Zero10

Zero10 and Crosby Studios set up a virtual store… in IRL NYC

 

The Future. AR fashion platform Zero10 and creative design studio Crosby Studios are opening a fashion pop-up next month that brings virtual fashion into the real world using AR technology. Like Solana minting a space to onboard people into the world of cryptocurrency, Zero10 and Crosby Studios’ future-retail concept may prove that building a physical destination is the best way to teach people about emerging digital products.

Pixel pop-up
Zero10 and Crosby Studios are bringing the metaverse into our world, per Input.

  • The two companies are partnering on the first physical metaverse fashion store where users can try on all the clothes via Zero10’s AR tech.
  • The store has no clothing racks or cash registers but is instead a series of changing rooms, where people can “try on” the clothes in real-time through their smartphone’s camera view after scanning a QR code.
  • Customers can also upload a photo from their camera roll to see how the clothes will look.
  • People can even try out different effects on the clothes, like “disappearing prints and gradients.”
  • All the items are then available to purchase through the Zero10 app.

The store will be located in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood and be open from September 7-18. Customers can sign up for a time slot to visit on Zero10’s website.

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