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The Fashion NFT Game Gets Creative

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Fashion caught NFT fever around this time in 2021 and a year hence, creative new ways to approach digital fashion are coming into view.

Nike finally revealed what it had in mind when it trademarked “CryptoKicks.” Through Rtfkt, the NFT studio it acquired in December, the sneaker giant released its first wearable metaverse sneakers on Friday, called Rtfkt x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks.

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A straightforward drop might have nabbed enough hype on its own. But the big reveal came after a free NFT release titled “MNLTH” three months ago, which were given to owners of a previous Rtfkt NFT collection. Adorned with Nike’s signature swoosh, the cubes set off owners on “quests” to learn what was inside.

On Friday, they found out: Customizable Nike CryptoKicks. Based on the brand’s real-world Nike Dunk, the Ethereum NFT-based sneakers can change looks, or “skins,” through another NFT called Skin Vials.

The skins will work on the virtual Dunks or other compatible sneakers, and the eight artist-created Skin Vial NFTs range in rarity and will evolve with new colors and features. According to the studio, they will also be able to “breed,” though it didn’t elaborate on what that means. But altogether, it promised that one pair of virtual kicks could unlock “thousands of looks.”

Of course, people can buy the CryptoKicks outright in the OpenSea marketplace from Rtfkt and secondary sales from owners, as well as Skin Vial NFTs. Within days, the digital sneakers have already pulled in north of $25 million in trading volume, with adjacent activity for skins. One sale alone clocked in at more than $450,000 on Monday.

Trading inspiration from physical fashion for digital is one thing. Trading actual physical attire for virtual goods is another.

Under a new partnership with fintech startup Twig, the self-dubbed “bank of things” that lets consumers cash out real-world products for credit, virtual fashion marketplace The Dematerialised will begin accepting Twig Pay as a new payment option for NFTs.

“Gen Z customers can turn their physical Alexander McQueen into a digital McQueen dress which can, in due course, even grow in value,” said Geri Cupi, founder and chief executive officer of Twig, in a statement.

According to Cupi, Twig Pay can bridge Web2 and Web3, or today’s internet and tomorrow’s metaversal one. But that’s the means, not the goal, which is to support the circular economy. For now the platform accepts fashion and electronics, which, in sustainability terms, are two of the dirtiest industries.

While NFTs and other blockchain-based assets have downsides as well, at least virtual fashion could help mitigate the churn of fast fashion.

“This partnership is paving the way for Gen Z to rethink their assets, what they have and how they can profit from previous purchases,” he said. “This partnership is the ultimate representation of how disruptive technology can prevent climate change and reduce additions to landfill.”

One appeal of Twig’s tech is the immediacy of launching the app and getting an estimate of the item’s value. The platform is brimming with 1.2 billion data points, and it factors in comparable sales and demand as well. Once the item is sent in and processed, funds will go into a digital wallet, so shoppers can purchase their virtual fare.

Naturally, Twig vets apparel it receives, and as a “Web 3.0 green payment structure,” it will try to give the garment new life. That includes trying to resell it or offering it to upcyclers, recyclers or downcycling partners.

Eligible swaps will eventually expand beyond fashion and electronics to other categories, and may even include digital assets in the future. But for now, Twig Pay is more oriented toward helping people purchase designer NFTs than taking them in.

“By selling unwanted products, anyone can gain access to and obtain digital fashion NFTs on The Dematerialised, [while] at the same time contributing to the circular economy principles: circulation of products and elimination of waste,” said Beata Wilczek, the marketplace’s head of digital sustainability and social impact.

The Dematerialised operates on the Lukso blockchain, which uses Proof of Stake consensus instead of Proof of Work. According to the company, that means its NFTs are 99 percent less energy-intensive, so they have a lower carbon footprint.