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How haute couture is awakening to the possibilities of blockchains

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Our increased use of online services over the past 18 months has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of blockchain. Like other global industries, the fashion world is realizing the opportunities these technologies offer. Whether it’s a new global payment method or better sustainability reporting, not to mention the boom in fashion NFTs, the possibilities seem endless.

So what blockchain applications can we expect to see adopted by the fashion world? And what limits still need to be overcome before blockchain can go mainstream? Let’s take a closer look.

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‘It will be $ 1500, or 0.029 BTC

A growing number of global retailers, including Microsoft, Starbucks, and Tesla, are now accepting cryptocurrency as a method of payment. Yet in recent weeks, German luxury fashion house Philipp Plein has made history by becoming the first fashion brand to accept 15 forms of cryptocurrency as payment.

In many ways, luxury fashion is the perfect use case for cryptocurrency. Firstly, since most of the high-end fashion brands sell their products worldwide, they already assume some exchange rate risk by accepting payments in multiple global currencies. As such, they may view crypto’s volatility as a lower barrier to adoption than other retailers.

The problem of excessive volatility has plagued crypto since the inception of the technology. However, an increase in the actual uses of cryptocurrency, as well as emerging solutions such as stablecoins (a cryptocurrency linked to traditional fiat currency or backed by commodities) are expected to alleviate this problem in the years to come. .

Second, due to congestion, many networks, including Ethereum, experience unpredictable and sometimes mind-boggling transaction fees, also known as gas fees. While there are ways around these fees, they can still make purchasing products cheaper using crypto at a prohibitive cost. The relatively high cost of luxury fashion means that gasoline costs typically represent a very small proportion of the value of each purchase.

Upgrades currently in development, dubbed Ethereum 2.0, are expected to eventually tackle the still high gas costs on the network, allowing it to scale to thousands of transactions per second. When these upgrades are implemented, it’s likely that a wider range of fashion brands will start accepting Ethereum as a payment method. Meanwhile, there are a number of Ethereum Layer 2 networks that can facilitate network transactions for a fraction of the cost.

Unlock supply chain visibility

The global fashion industry has gained a reputation for opaque supply chains and poor sustainability practices. Fast fashion retailers like Bouhou, with names established as H&M and even luxury brands (Dior and Saint Laurent to name a few), a myriad of companies have been beset by supply chain scandals in recent years.

As a result, consumers are increasingly aware of the ESG (environmental, social and governance) credentials of their favorite fashion brands. In fact, a recent McKinsey study found that 67% of fashion consumers see the use of sustainable materials as an important purchasing factor.

In response, a growing number of brands are leveraging blockchain-based solutions to demonstrate their ESG credentials. For example, earlier this year, the world’s major fashion powers, including Prada, Cartier and LVMH, signed an agreement to form the Aura Blockchain Consortium.

The goal of the consortium is to create a blockchain solution, open to all luxury brands in the world, that will ensure supply chain transparency by capturing information relating to the materials and labor used to create each product. Upon purchasing an item, customers will receive an encrypted blockchain-based digital warranty certificate. Each item will have a corresponding identifier, such as a near field communication (NFC) chip or serial number, which will be linked to a certificate stored on the blockchain. Since blockchain records cannot be altered or tampered with, this solution has the added benefit of tackling counterfeiting, a persistent and serious scarecrow for luxury fashion.

The rise of digital fashion in the game

While the idea of ​​spending real money on virtual clothes may seem confusing to many, the growing popularity of digital in-game fashion is further proof that consumers’ understanding of ownership is changing. You no longer need to physically own an item to own it.

Typically, in-game digital clothing is purchased as an NFT (non-fungible token) using a cryptocurrency token like Ethereum, Bitcoin, or a bespoke digital asset like fruitlabs pip tokens. Each NFT has a unique identifier, stored on the blockchain, which means it cannot be changed or replaced.

Virtual clothing continues to generate real sales in so-called metaverse online environments where users congregate and play games. Burberry is just one brand that has designed a line of NFT accessories, worn by video game characters in the open world multiplayer game, Blankos Block Party. Gucci has also created digital clothing for several games, including Pokmon Go and The Sims 4. Most notably, however, the brand made headlines earlier this year after opening the Gucci Garden on the Roblox gaming platform. An embroidered handbag, initially priced at 475 Robux (or $ 6), was reportedly resold for 350,000 Robux (or around $ 4,000).

Expanding the use cases of NFTs

Video games are just one of the ways that fashion NFTs are starting to enter the mainstream. As the NFT landscape evolves, expect to see fewer one-off celebrity offers and more brands thinking about how NFTs can add value to their business on an ongoing basis. For example, as part of the marketing campaign for its fall / winter 2021 collection, Gucci has auctioned off an NFT of the video it created to accompany this season’s show. The auction, which took place at Christies, blurred the line between art and fashion.

Likewise, sneaker company RTFKT bridges the gap between the physical and digital realms with its wearable NFT drops. Items in these collections are available as both physical and NFT items that can be worn in-game.

In the future, will fashion be the vehicle that finally makes blockchain ubiquitous? Considering the expansion of our digital lives over the past 18 months and the growing role of fashion culture in global society, this idea doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it would have just been. two years.

As often happens in the fashion world, blockchain innovations pioneered by luxury fashion houses today will inevitably spill over to other retailers tomorrow. In the years to come, we can expect a wider range of brands to start accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment, and more are looking to implement blockchain solutions to address sustainability issues and supply in progress. Plus, take a good look at the rise in popularity of digital fashion NFTs that unleash a new form of creative expression and generate additional revenue streams for brands. We are barely seeing the creation of this exciting industry, and given the level of interest and investment around the world, it certainly looks like it is here to stay.

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