As its creative director Olivier Rousteing opened a new flagship in New York, the luxury fashion house Balmain also launched a novel-sounding play on NFTs — a “Non-Fungible Thread.” With the drop date still to be announced, its fans (known as the ‘Balmain Army’) are on tenterhooks. The press release explains how “this NFT will evolve over time as a key component of the house’s future accessory, sneaker, and fashion celebrations, combining both physical and digital.”
Powering the drop is MintNFT: a new marketplace for crypto art that aims to make collecting secure. Co-founded by tech and entertainment innovators James Sun and Teddy Zee, it has raised just under $5 million from top blockchain companies and investors like Ripple, Dapper Labs, Alumni Ventures Group, and SparkLabs. “It will offer a journey into Balmain…It will offer different experiences,” co-founder Teddy Zee told Jing Daily.
The business is attempting to stand out in Web3 via its proprietary video provenance technology as part of its goal to make the consumer experience safe. To prove its legitimacy, Balmain’s drop will include a video by Rousteing — and offer both physical and digital benefits to the brand’s influencers.
“Maintaining a thread is key in fashion,” Rousteing said, adding: “In order to extend a clear vision and advance a distinct aesthetic, each and every collection that a fashion designer oversees must be tied together by a single, unifying thread.”
While it’s not the first fashion label to experiment in this area — this partnership is more advanced than many of its competitors. Associate Analyst, Apparel at Global Data Darcey Jupp explained how it goes beyond what we have seen from other luxury firms so far: “It helps show Balmain’s dedication to becoming a market leader in developing innovation trends in the luxury apparel market. Also, its inclusion of membership benefits will increase demand for the NFTs, as its most loyal consumers will be keen to unlock the exclusive bonuses.”
Despite related moves in the sector, Global Data’s Jupp noted that overall uptake has been slow: “At present, engagement in the NFT market remains low, and this will not change overnight, yet loyal customers will want to continue buying into their favorite brand, and the introduction of metaverse products allows this to move into the virtual sphere too.”
The mainland is of course more complicated in this regard. Jupp continued, “an outright ban on cryptocurrencies introduced in September 2021 and heavy policing of the secondary NFT market has created a significantly different metaverse in China, and while the value of Western NFTs is often in their resale potential, NFTs in China are a sign of brand loyalty and are cherished by the holder.” She advises luxury groups to differentiate their metaverse offer within China to ensure overall success: such as premium brand Coach did successfully in 2021.
For Zee, the idea of blockchain is based on demarcation, or cutting out the middleman. “I’ve always seen myself as an underdog. I’ve always looked at technology to make the world more accessible. Web 3 is both inclusive and exclusive. We don’t all think alike. We can grow communities or micro-communities,” he stated.
With that in mind, Balmain is the perfect partner for MintNFT. “We help consumers onboard into NFTs in a way that’s simple,” Zee enthused, outlining the video provenance he has developed to assure fans they are buying the real deal. “There are lots of fakes in fashion and they think it’s a barrier to introduction.” If MintNFT can help here, they might be onto a winner. Balmain certainly thinks so.