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Forget the past, NFT sneakers are the future

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Grounded on the blockchain and composed of digital objects equipped with NFTs, fashion is known to have an interest in the metaverse: companies have promoted this trend, starting with big luxury and streetwear brands. They have adapted to this digital universe that sparks curiosity and creates new opportunities for the future. This virtual and physical mix allows designing innovative ideas and creating a parallel world where one’s avatar can go shopping, make friends, and have a “second life”.

Nike quickly grasped the endless creative and commercial possibilities offered by the metaverse, starting a revolution in sports footwear. The brand has foreseen that Generation Z – the so-called digitarians – loves buying virtual products; they are our future consumers, perceiving no difference between physical and virtual reality and will experience the metaverse passionately.

The first RTFKT X Nike Dunk Genesis Cryptokicks Sneaker

In December 2021, Nike acquired Rtfkt, a US studio established in 2019 by Benoit Pagotto, Steven Vasilev and Chris Le. As their web page states, Rtfkt is a creator-led organisation using the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality, combined with manufacturing expertise to create one-of-a-kind sneakers and digital artefacts. To redefine the boundaries of physical and virtual value, they often collaborate with artists: Rtfkt recently developed an avatar project called CloneX in collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

You might wonder when the Rtfkt team caught everyone’s attention: it was March 2021, just a few months after the studio’s launch in 2020. In that auction, each NFT came with a real-world pair of shoes or other fashion pieces, generating over $3mm in sales within seven minutes. All those digital items were designed by Fewocious, a young visionary designer specialising in digital art.

Fewocious portrait and the Fewo Shoes Legendary sneakers designed by the artist

Thanks to his creative energy and spontaneous, surreal art in psychedelic colours, the now 19-year-old rising artist Victor Langlois, aka Fewocious, has quickly attracted the attention of both the younger generation and collectors, getting listed among the world’s highest-paid NFT artists.

Now living in New York, Fewocious started creating art at 13 in his hometown of Las Vegas. “His foray into digital art was born as a refuge and escape for the young transgender artist,” as stated on his website. He sold his first painting at the age of 17: his art represents a snapshot of his memories. Besides being an artist, Fwocious is also the co-host of a podcast called ArtArtArt and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

His projects have literally conquered the market of digitarians and beyond. In June 2021, Fewocious hosted a groundbreaking and record-breaking auction with Christie’s auction house in celebration of “Pride Month”, which sold for $2.16 million. It was in support of gender transition that Christie’s auctioned the artist’s NFT works: the online sale, titled Hello, I’m Victor (Fewocious) and This Is My Life, consisted of five pieces that detail the journey through his teen years so far, growing up as a transgender male in an abusive household.

Victor hand-delivered components of each work to buyers personally in a suitcase. Each NFT came with a physical painting and a ‘gift’ selection of archival drawings, also minted as unique NFTs. The gesture was inspired by his moment of escape. “I didn’t really want my family to know I was moving,” Fewocious said in an interview, so he only took one bag and filled it with his art.

Fewocious

Nike and other street footwear brands have gone the NFT route: Asics is launching its collection of NFT sneakers through Binance’s Mystery boxes. Stockx Vault links an NFT to a physical product (in this case, a sneaker) which fans can buy, sell, and trade through blockchain technology (to certify its authenticity).

During New York Fashion Week, you can also see Puma’s latest Futrograde show. As part of it, a dedicated Metaverse website called Black Station featured exclusive NFTs with limited-edition, redeemable physical sneakers.

 

Will the new teen artists working in the virtual be the young designers of the future?

With their works, they can indeed inspire the new generations of creatives who will increasingly have to delve into and engage with this new world.

 

 

Simona Schiappucci
Tutor in Womenswear Fashion and Luxury Accessories Design & Management Master courses, Milan
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