How NFTs are democratizing the fashion industry – WWD


NFTs have been the talk of the fashion industry for months, bringing a new level of exclusivity and opportunity to turn digital designs and collections into extremely valuable and unique collector’s items.

With so much potential, it’s largely a time for experimentation for brands as they navigate the metaverse and find a meaningful place in it. Companies like SmartMedia Technologies, a Web 3.0 platform that drives first-party data acquisition, engagement and user loyalty to digital and mobile-first audiences, are part of this navigation, helping brands figure out what it should look like. industry and providing insight into how the industry is continuing to grow shaped by that vision.

Michael Chock, chief solutions officer at SmartMedia Technologies, told WWD, “A big part of what we’re looking at right now is that the NFT market is about 95 percent speculation. You look at some of these NFTs that drop and you see that they’re wildly successful, and then you look at some of them that a celebrity can’t even sell. We work in both spaces, but our real belief about NFTs is less about speculation and more about how an NFT becomes a currency of engagement and what we’ve built since our company was founded on this powerful story of advertising technology.

Notably, the original team at SmartMedia Technologies built an ad server that they sold to Microsoft for $6 billion and later to Facebook Marketplace.

“Now, we’ve built the first enterprise marketplace for creators, brands and agencies so we can use NFTs as a currency of engagement as a way to build communities and as a way to earn and monetized IP,” Chock said. “We take a lot from that side of how we use it for loyalty, how we use it for consumer engagement, and how we create really unique brand experiences that have more value than just throwing out a new shoe and hoping people buy it?”

Operationally, the company has a TV agency in its group and serves to operate in Web 1.0, TV, Web 2.0, everything digital and now Web 3.0. The goal is to make it incredibly easy for consumers and brands, noting that all of these features provide a smooth transition as brands work to figure out strategies moving forward.

In contrast, many of the solutions available are point solutions that are Web 3.0 only. The problem with that, Chock said, is that it makes it challenging for brands to bridge the gap for consumers who are overwhelmed by the fact that in order to buy something, they may have to download the technology to get the token in another specific crypto wallet. to finance the desired action.

Michael Chock

Courtesy image.

This multi-step process has created a growing sense of negativity in online forums. Chock explained that this speculation also comes from consumers’ concern with buying things that don’t have a direct connection to a physical, tangible part.

“Even when you look at the NFTs that have been successful, art is a wonderful concept that is already challenging for me; it’s easier for people to wrap their minds around it than something like earth in the metaverse,” Chock said. “Where I would argue with that is when you think about what a metaverse is, it’s just a digital ecosystem and we’ve spent money on digital ecosystem for many years.”

As an example, Chock points to Farmville, where people pay money to buy fake cows and fake crops and fake land in a metaverse where they pay real money. Call of Duty is another massive metaverse that people pay not only for access, but also to upgrade tools, technology and all that within.

And many consumers are becoming more comfortable buying digital goods in exchange for regular currency. However, where this mindset shift hasn’t happened for many consumers, Chock said, is understanding what the benefit is. They want to know when they buy an NFT and what they get.

In response to this, some of the brands that SmartMedia Technologies works with have created what are known as “utility tokens”, meaning that owning the token gives the consumer ownership of a physical good or does something.

“I think a great thing about fashion is looking at the Supreme model,” Chock said. “I lived a block from [a] The Supreme store in SoHo, and every morning when you know there will be a drop, people start camping the night before in front of the Supreme store. But imagine if you did this for a fashion brand using NFT to have fans engaged in a loyalty program, so they take high-value actions for your brand, whether it’s following you on social media, whether they’re posting photos of themselves with their clothing. , they get a digital token and only that NFT would have access to the new drop.”

And the queuing community wouldn’t go away; instead, it creates a community in a virtual environment so that engagement that benefits the brand and the consumer is given new content.

“I think the next kind of step for NFT in the fashion industry is to replicate some of this similar methodology if people have reason that people are used to it,” Chock said. “It’s this transition of how do you get consumers into this frame of mind very easily? Where we focus and where we think the industry is going is to say how do we use NFTs to build markets and loyalty, rather than these one-off drops.”

Putting it in the context of luxury fashion, Chock said to imagine buying a Birkin bag. “There’s a nice piece of function, but buying a Birkin bag is also a very big statement. It means I have status, I have wealth if I have these riches, and when you’re carrying that Birkin bag, your sphere of influence is just people who are looking at you. Now the idea with NFTs and fashion is saying, ‘OK, now what if instead of that Birkin bag, you buy a digital Birkin bag or imagine if they came as a companion, so when you buy a Birkin, get an NFT?’ Suddenly, your sphere of influence where you post becomes much larger.”

SmartMedia Technologies is seeing this especially with the millennial consumer audience as they buy things and want to show not just immediate contemporaries, but create a greater impact of status and value that those fashion labels in their digital ecosystems – ecosystems digital ones are much bigger than physical ones. However, some consumers do not even realize when they are operating in the metaverse or Web3.

Looking ahead, Chock said he thinks educating the consumer about the metaverse is a shared responsibility of the consumer as well as the brand and tech companies. With the endless possibilities of digital marketplaces and AI events, as all brands become part of the metaverse, Chock said it’s imperative to be authentic and offer the consumer – and their avatars nearby – something of value.

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