The fashion world is mining the digital realm for a new generation of front row-ers (FROW). From NFT gurus to esports champions, Web3’s tastemakers are occupying the best seats in the house and mingling with industry greats.
“The advancement of Web3 technology has fundamentally changed the digital landscape, and it is essential for luxury houses to recognize the influence of Web3 leaders as they are at the forefront of change in this space,” Kenneth Loo, co-founder and CEO of Chapter 2 communications agency, tells Jing Daily.
The company works with a number of rising and well-established Web3 innovators, including 9dcc label founder gmoney and crypto security startup Ledger.
This new wave of cultural cornerstones like gmoney and Ledger is shining a light on the virtual realm’s impact on luxury. As more Web3 gurus make it on to the front row, Jing Daily explores why the industry should be looking to these trailblazers as the next faces in fashion, and how the new phenomenon might be a catalyst for mass Web3 adoption.
Avoiding culturally irrelevancy
The FROW is usually reserved for industry veterans and talent that’s making waves in the public eye. Recognizing Web3 personalities by seating them among these cultural heavyweights is a major step forward.
From a brand perspective, luxury labels are constantly looking for ways to revolutionize their runway shows and stay culturally relevant. One of the most impactful ways of doing that is transforming the front row.
A case in point is Gucci. The label continues to dive deeper into gamified offerings, and influential industry players have become mainstays at the house’s catwalk shows.
Twitch streamer and gamer Pokimane was recently invited to the house’s Fall/Winter 2023 presentation at Milan Fashion Week, where she joined the likes of rapper A$AP Rocky and actress Dakota Johnson and sat in a 1970s style conversation pit populated by fashion’s most-prolific influencers.
The move demonstrated Gucci’s willingness to recognize these digital movers and shakers, as well as its ability to deliver on what’s generating colossal buzz among young demographics like the digital native Gen-Z.
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Power of exposure
Punctuating their star-studded lineups of regulars with fresh faces enables brands to appeal to previously overlooked cohorts of consumers.
The impact of placing the digital universe at the forefront of fashion is likely to spur innovative concepts in the virtual sector, such as collaborations with new maisons and novel ambassadorships, which in turn could propel these digital pioneers’ careers to new heights across both industries.
Tommy Hilfiger invited a number of leaders from the Web3 community to attend the brand’s New York Fashion Show production last September. Metaverse expert and advisor Cathy Hackl, who recently announced the launch of her non-fungible token jewelry collection Frillz, tells Jing Daily how her status in the Web3 space is recognized and respected in the fashion world, even among the roster of global A-listers at the brand’s show, which included Kris Jenner, Shawn Mendes, and stylist Law Roach.
“It was a really interesting moment for me to see the collision of both the traditional A-listers and the new faces who are merging fashion and tech in their own unique ways,” Hackl says. “I was seated in a front row alongside an influential vlogger and a former model, and it was the first time I felt that people in the fashion industry understood why someone from tech is now in the front row.”
Expanding through collaborations
Affiliations with buzzy names are key to invigorating a brand’s audience. Fanbase community members who spot their favorite gamer-slash-creative in the exalted FROW are more likely to engage with the products on display.
Web3 aficionado gmoney has for the past two seasons attended Prada’s collection showcases, on the FROW, sporting the Italian label’s garments.
Similarly, Pokimane took to socials following Gucci’s showcase — where she attended fully kitted out in the maison’s latest collection — to share her experience with her online audience, which numbers over 10.2 million on Instagram and Twitter alone.
According to metaverse data platform Geeiq, Gucci consistently ranks as one of the top-performing houses when it comes to brand affinity with gamers, thanks to its commitment to spotlighting industry leaders and investing in digital superstars.
Creating relationships with influential digital personalities is a clever and lucrative marketing tactic for luxury labels wanting to crack new audiences, and harness the fiercely loyal communities that Web3 fans have created.
Hackl believes that these newfound collaborations open multiple doors for both parties.
“We will see designers begin to co-create with some of us who are leaders in the tech industry to bring a new twist to luxury and fashion. This in turn allows the designers and their brands to tap into new communities, which many of us have created, and audiences that they want to reach,” she says.
Flash in the pan?
Despite what traditional fashion enthusiasts may think, Web3 is undeniably rising up every major luxury house’s agenda, though Matt Colon, representative of early metaverse adopters including Steve Aoki and Pplpleasr, believes that the trend today is still rooted in hype.
“To a large degree, Web3 influencers are more of a novelty at fashion shows, but I do think there is a real curiosity in fashion, particularly high fashion, with what blockchain technology and Web3 can offer,” Colon says.
That isn’t to say it will always be this way. Hackl expects the trend to solidify and the sight of digital gurus in fashion to become commonplace
“This is a trend that we will continue to see,” she says. “Technology and fashion have never been closer together, and leaders in the [digital] industry, who have active communities, will not only get a front row invite, they will get a front row seat for potentially co-creating and collaborating with the brands as they look to the future.”