The Future of Retail Brings Fashion, Web3, and NFTs to Immersive Commerce

Much has been written about the “mixing” of physical and digital under the auspices of “unified commerce”. At the same time, we are inundated with all things Metaverse, aka Web3. Are they mutually exclusive? A recent fast business article on the future of fashion in Web3 begins to fill in some gaps.

If Web1 was about “reading” and Web2 was about “reading and writing,” then Web3 was about “reading, writing, and owning,” says Founder of Farfetch and CEO José Neves. Fashion, says Neves, is a deeply human endeavor and an essential part of who we are as individuals. Fashion allows us to apply different “masks” depending on how we feel, who we want to be or what we want to portray on any given day. “We still believe that technology enhances the human interaction between curators, designers and fashion levels, instead of replacing that human connection.”

Neves continues: “For me, the definition of the application of Web3 in vogue is the application of these principles of user control, user ownership and decentralized architecture to the use cases of the fashion.” Technology enables innovation, even if it results in you and your avatar becoming “digital twins” wearing the exact same outfit, extending brand loyalty across the metaverse. I hope it’s a lot more.

A Betta MetaMall

This article brought me back to a April interview I did it with two metaverse change agents, Michel Zakkour and Alan Smithsonwho work together on an even more robust enterprise, simply known as The shopping center. It is billed as a 100-story, 100 million square foot “metamall” in cyberspace. The team shared their belief that “retail may well be driving much of what we call the metaverse.”

Alan and Michael further believe that their first adapters won’t be “bro-guys” wearing headsets and crypto wallets, but rather a mainstream market of women between the ages of 20 and 45 wearing iPhones. They work with fashion houses to sell products in the mall, as well as various in-house brand creative agencies or facilitate “builds” with MetaVRse‘s studio, which Smithson founded with his wife Julie. Their secret sauce is the fact that, unlike other similar tools, their engine can be deployed across multiple operating systems, browsers, and devices with little to no code. Indeed, anyone can be a creator.

“TheMall is a combination of e-commerce and pure experience. Brands see this as marketing, branding and experiential gaming,” says Michael Zakkour. “Brands can do anything from experience pure, NFT, a mixture of commerce and experience, it will become their space to do anything with it.” Michel is one of the RETHINKING Retail Top 100 Retail Influencers and a firm believer (like me) that the future of retail is “immersive commercea seamless blend of online and in-store, the essence of unified commerce. We don’t use the term “omnichannel” in Michael’s presence, it makes him cringe.

Enter “Tokenomics”

If you visit TheMall and want to transact, you will naturally have to do so with cryptocurrency. Although crypto assets have captivated the world with several promises of economic opportunity, they lack tangibility. A US dollar can be seen and touched, but cryptocurrencies cannot. However, cryptocurrencies are recognized as fungible assets and are the basis of “tokenomics”, the mixture of “token” and “economics”.

Non-fungible tokens (NFT) do not share the same value and therefore, they are unique. NFTs have been trending lately and have generated a lot of interest in tokenomics, especially with high profile NFT auctions. Tokenizing assets such as real estate, artwork, pictures, and collectibles with NFT has sparked a new wave of digital ownership, while showcasing the potential of tokens.

Is it Art?

Art has been at the forefront of cultural change over millennia. It’s no surprise, then, that artists and NFTs are developing a symbiotic, and lucrative, relationship. Many relatively unknown talents have made their way into NFT art, and now some of the most revered artists and illustrators are expanding beyond traditional media into digital art and NFT tokens.

I recently interviewed Shaun Neff, co-founder of God, whom Forbes called “Brand Whisperer”. GODA describes itself as a “trusted curated source for leading contemporary artists looking to explore digital as a new medium”. Neff is a serial entrepreneur and has been a founder, investor and advisor to some of the world’s biggest brands. These include Neff, Sunbum, Moon, Group of beach housesRobinhood, Target
Sony, Sandbox, Outlier Ventures and more.

GODA is also led by some of the biggest names in consumer, art, music, NFT and fashion. names like Pharrell Williams, Nina Chanel Abney, and Todd James among them. Many GODA artists have built up significant reputations and reputations in the “analog” art world before entering the world of digital art and NFTs. As a trusted partner, GODA guarantees its artists smooth and impactful drops that respect the value of their art.

Take a brand position

As Shaun said at the start of my interview, the NFT art world is a crazy new space. It has built a strong following because the barriers to entry have been very low and, unlike analog art, there are no middlemen or gatekeepers. And as a result, many artists, illustrators and graphic designers have thrown themselves into the pool, especially in the last year.

Apart from the low barrier to entry, the “tokenomics” behind the transactions are very attractive. Artists who mint the originals actually retain ownership of the original artwork, even when they become minted in a limited number of NFTs that “live” in the Web3 metaverse.

On the selling side of the equation, it takes a lot more than creating art and “hitting” the NFT to get noticed, let alone get the work to achieve lasting value. According to Shaun Neff, ninety-nine percent of those who publish their work reach no one, let alone the “whales” or major collectors who dominate the world of digital art collecting.

In the true spirit of a branding veteran, Shaun notes that beyond creative talent, artists must engage in the highly strategic and calculated business designed to create buzz. This is where the work of GODA comes in.

Party on Todd

Todd James is an internationally acclaimed artist who began his artistic career as a teenager in New York City by adding his unique graffiti to the subway system in the early 1980s. August 30e this year, Todd minted a new collection of 1,533 NFT images with the help of GODA. Mint Pass holders paid 0.333 ETH (worth $527) on September 1st and had 24 hours. window to enter a pre-mint raffle to try his luck at his new collection. Over 20,000 people signed up for a limited number of NFTs that became available. Todd James’ “ART PARTY” Reveal Happened on September 6e 9:00 a.m. PT/12:00 p.m. central.

As of 3:00 p.m. CST that day, 804 owners purchased 546 coins. “The bottom price” was 0.46 ETH (approximately $724.00) for item #545 and #280 had a price of 666 ETH (approximately $1,047,904). The vast majority at that time were running in the middle numbers ($7,000-$10,000).

As a modest collector of contemporary art, I appreciated the satirical, often political and very pop/street art aesthetic of Todd James. And I can’t help but think of mid-century artists like Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol or Claes Oldenburg in comparison. In their time, it was a major event when these pop art icons released a new print edition of a dozen images. Each image could have been made available via a few hundred signed prints, which were essentially identical. By comparison, each of Todd James’ more than 1,500 images is unique, with its own “fingerprint.” Warhol would be impressed, indeed.

Artist’s pension

The other huge benefit for the artist is that when the NFT trades in the secondary market, they get a share of that and any subsequent sales. And because all transactions happen in the metaverse, there should never be any doubt about the authenticity or provenance of the image. Talk about an annuity.

Another GODA artist who has recently moved into the world of NFTs is renowned African-American contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abney. Her first-ever “Super Cool World” NFT collection on the GODA NFT platform consisted of 5,080 NFTs comprised of hundreds of Nina-designed strokes that reflect her “frenzied, collage-like approach to visual media.” The strike began on July 14e for those who won the allow list raffle, 60,000 raffle submissions were public. Mint Pass holders were guaranteed to be able to purchase.

Nina is especially interested in keeping her collector fans in the family. So to reward loyalty and limit transactions on the secondary market, it has alludes to owners with access to “exclusive Nina products, collaborative product launches, airdrops, events, incentive participation in exhibitions and surprise raffle drawings”.

Change of sea or wait and see?

What does all of this mean for the “established art community,” let alone filling the spaces above our fireplaces? Well, according to Shaun Neff, we can expect future NFT collectors to purchase enlarged digital displays to adorn the walls of our homes with the ever-changing NFTs. No doubt it will be controlled by our phones or smart homes. And, of course, Todd James and Nina Abney’s NFTs will be proudly displayed on the walls of our Metaverse Mansions for our avatars to enjoy.


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