Tommy Hilfiger made great strides into Web3 this season with its KOL-stacked Fall 2023 “Tommy Factory” show featuring a crossover with Richard Quinn and a phygital runway with Roblox. More than just a step into the metaverse, the collaborations were a means of diversifying the brand and entering markets outside of its heritage.
Luxury players are not just preserving their provenance by using blockchain technologies; they are leveraging Web3 to collaborate, build, and gamify with a global community. In this ever-evolving tech landscape, it is key for brands to genuinely engage with their audiences, show transparency, champion consistency, and teach their narrative.
Vivienne Tam is another label that brought her global heritage to the metaverse at New York Fashion Week, partnering with NFT names like Gemini’s Awkward Astronauts, CyberKongz, and Bored Ape Yacht Club. When asked about the PFP (profile picture) NFTs in her latest collection, Tam stated, “The future isn’t a faraway destination. It’s here today. At a time of global rebirth I wanted to incorporate some of my friends and brands that were shaping the metaverse, NFTs, and finance technology.”
Outside of NYFW, Tam is also creating NFTs for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) 60th anniversary, where she has been a member for over 20 years. “They are always breaking boundaries and bringing in more and more diverse perspectives. My thought is to bring harmony in a Mandala pattern that helps center the NFTs in a new spirit and way,” she added.
Genuine collaborations like these that bring heritage and history into the digital landscape are essential in educating and inspiring a wider online audience. This is why the CFDA’s anniversary project is a perfect opportunity for creatives: the virtual exhibition, titled “Fashioning the Shades of American Design,” will include 60 curated looks from CFDAs member roster, which includes more than 450 designers. Among those chosen are Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Anna Sui, Thom Browne, and The Row.
The ability to innovate is at the core of what makes NYFW an important staple on the fashion calendar. In these early days of molding and forming what our digital identity looks like, brands are adding real-life applications to NFTs to enhance the luxury experience for their customers. For example, The Blonds, ALTU by Joseph Altuzarra, Kim Shui, AnOnlyChild, and Jonathan Simkhai teamed up with Afterpay to create NFT keys that grant access to runway shows, afterparties, and opportunities to meet the designers.
To gain customer loyalty, brands must create immersive experiences and build communities around them. However, follow-through is key: in the case of Afterpay’s NFT keys, some buyers did not receive the experience they were promised. As one Afterpay NFT key holder, Janey Park, a Web3 content creator and strategy consultant, complained: “I attended the Kim Shui show where holders were asked to RSVP twice, given standing room (no seat assignments), waited in line for 45 minutes, and found out the show ended when others in line came back to tell us.”
“The opportunity here was missed,” she continued. “For NYFW, Afterpay, and Kim Shui as well as the other designers, this was a customer acquisition opportunity to usher in the new wave of Web3 and be the first to onboard or even build a relationship with Web3 enthusiasts for the years to come.”
The Web3 community is still very cautious of who enters the space and how they will treat users at large. Brands that promise one thing and deliver another will have a very short shelf life with the speed of information online. This is not saying there is no room for error, but that transparency and consistency are the real keys to digital success.
While NYFW goes through growing pains, its outlook is brighter than ever. On top of showcasing collaboration, inclusion, and diversity, it has laid the foundation for brands entering a phygital world. Luxury houses are looking to the future with learned lessons from the past, and are embracing this new global experiment where anything is possible.