Balmain’s Unicorn Sneaker Goes Phygital, NYX Turns To Virtual Influencers & More: Web3 Drops Of The Week

After a few quiet weeks for the metaverse, brands are back to re-energizing their digital roadmaps.

Balmain is returning to the virtual world and taking its headline-making Unicorn sneakers with it. The Parisian label continues to prove its position at the vanguard of Web3 engagement; brands wanting to compete will certainly have their work cut out for them.

It was also a big week for beauty, with both cosmetics giant NYX and nail salon conglomerate OPI launching new virtual projects for their audiences. NYX recognized the rising power of China’s virtual humans in its latest campaign, while OPI rolled out a platform for emerging creatives to showcase their idiosyncratic aesthetics. 

This year, we’ll likely see the beauty industry grab the metaverse by its horns and make full use of its potential. 

Balmain enters the next phase of its Web3 roadmap with digital wearables. Photo: Spaces Runners

Balmain Teams Up With Space Runners To Bring Its Futurism-Inspired Sneaker To Web3

What Happened: Balmain is launching a cross-boundary version of its novel Unicorn sneaker silhouette in the metaverse. The chunky shoe received praise last year thanks to its unique design — an aesthetic that looked as though it had been plucked straight from the sci-fi film Blade Runner — and wildly futuristic silhouette. Now, the luxury house’s hero product is getting a phygital makeover. 

In collaboration with Web3 fashion brand Space Runners, Balmain will launch a series of NFTs based on the Unicorn sneaker in a new colorway that will also have a physical twin, available in different levels of rarity. Though the price is yet to be confirmed, the waitlist for the drop is live, and the response to the project across socials is already huge.

The Verdict: Balmain’s commitment to experimenting beyond the curve underpins the brand’s offline and digital ambitions. It makes sense for the label to partner with Space Runners, which is leaning into the phygital world for the first time through this collaboration. The startup specializes in offering fashion labels the chance to experiment with AR, gamified experiences, and now cross-boundary collections, making it one to watch in the virtual space. 

Balmain’s bold approach to blurring the boundaries between the online and offline has made it a key player in the metaverse. Last year, the label announced the launch of its very own Web3 community hub, released skins in the Need For Speed game, and teamed up with Barbie on a fun NFT launch. With no venture too big for the brand, Balmain is now gearing up to crack the digital wearables market for the first time too. 

The RTFKT x Ledger collaboration spotlights the power of Web3 synergy through a new education project. Photo: Ledger

RTFKT and Ledger Join Forces On Long-Term, Collaborative Capsule Collection And Education Program

What Happened: At NFT Paris, RTFKT and Web3 platform Ledger announced that they will be working together to launch the first in a series of educational programs and collaborative drops. The initial project will be a physical release of a special all-white custom edition of the Ledger Nano S Plus and I’m Nano X hardware wallets. RTFKT will also host a series of quests as part of the launch, demonstrating both the physical and digital aspects of the evergreen partnership and emphasizing the role hardware plays in security. 

The Verdict: The partnership between the two industry leaders demonstrates how Web3 synergies can enhance virtual educational offerings and enrich the consumer experience.

The collaboration also signifies how brands are pushing to offer their consumers more solution-based, value-driven assets, as opposed to just another collection of virtual commodities. Metaverse security concerns have plagued the space since its conception. Now, brands are beginning to explore different ways of protecting their dedicated collectors, with this partnership doing so by educating and empowering its audience. 

ALiCe is the latest virtual influencer to take over brand campaigns in China. Photo: Weibo

NYX Appoints Virtual Influencer ALiCE As Sustainability Ambassador For The Cosmetic Giant’s China Arm 

What Happened: Virtual human ALiCE has been selected as the sustainability ambassador for beauty giant NYX. In the brand’s announcement campaign, the “synthfluencer” was pictured holding a lipstick from NYX’s Spring 2023 collection. NYX has also developed the dedicated hashtag “Alice Becomes Best Friend of NYX Brand” on Weibo for audiences to share and follow. 

The Verdict: NYX is storming ahead of beauty competitors with its global metaverse endeavors. To maintain its cultural relevance with Chinese audiences, the brand is now leaning into the mainland’s latest trend: virtual influencers. 

The partnership also highlights how brands and companies are further popularizing digital humans by making them the faces for global initiatives. The question as to whether this move is simply a greenwashing tactic is still prevalent, but with the digital influencer boasting over 729,000 followers on Weibo, it’s a marketing push that will likely have great payoffs for the cosmetics titan and put it front and center of China’s virtual beauty market. 


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