Part luxury label, part lab, Cathy Hackl’s new project VerseLuxe is set to explore the possibilities of technological innovation in fashion. The startup’s debut venture, Frillz, is a first-of-its-kind concept centered around the idea of connecting high-end jewels with near-field communication (NFC) chips.
“I feel like it’s my time. I need to jump in and create this playground for myself,” Hackl, the proclaimed “Godmother of the metaverse” tells Jing Daily. “I don’t want the no-frills life, I want all the frills. And that’s how the name came about. I had already talked about creating this timeless bridge between Web2 and Web3, and eventually it all came together.”
With years of experience in leading brands into the metaverse, plus the title of chief metaverse officer at consultancy firm Journey under her belt, the tech expert has turned her focus to the new long-term roadmap of VerseLuxe.
For VerseLuxe’s inaugural project, Hackl tapped jewelry design specialist and pioneer in blockchain frontiers Simone Faurschou, marking the first collaboration under the label.
“I was experimenting with blockchain technology for my previous collection and that’s how Cathy and I also connected at first. I’ve really been looking at jewelry as an experimental avenue of creating a story and selling a narrative,” Faurschou says.
The first drop from Frillz consists of two necklace and bracelet designs, each distinctively unique in aesthetic. Developed with the theme of time in mind, the pieces are designed to mirror the core elements of a watch’s anatomy, like its trademark circular exterior.
On that note, the duo made the decision to remove the 6, 9, and 12 watch hands, and replace them with the Roman numeral III, representing the transition from Web2 to Web3. “Time is the most valuable commodity we have, and Frillz’s timeless design merges the past, present, and future of the fashion and tech industries,” VerseLuxe’s press release reads.
Hackl worked with resin, silver, gold, and a number of precious metals for the 200-piece collection. Taking the prospect of virtual couture to the next level, 20 of the two styles will also be crafted from 18k solid gold.
Alongside these materials lies the all-important NFC chip, taking the product from being yet another commodity to a cross-dimensional vessel. The hardware-locked smart contract chip (HaLo) can be scanned using a smartphone, bringing up its very own blockchain-based authentication certificate. It’s a seamless system that even the most basic Web3 user can get to grips with.
Unlike other tech-forward labels that have utilized NFC chips, Frillz’s chip is embedded into the design and is unable to be extracted from the precious metals it’s encased in. Meaning, in essence, the chip is the product itself. Though its functions go way beyond novelness.
“This piece of jewelry is on the blockchain forever, meaning that even if someone steals it in the future and tries to scan it, the piece is already on someone else’s wallet. So it’s proof of ownership. But it’s also a future connector to our community. We can use this system to send our audience added bonuses, and offer them access to special events,” Hackl outlines.
The tech futurist has spent years building up a strong roster of clients within the luxury business. But transitioning from advisor to entrepreneur was always on the agenda. “I saw a lot of male colleagues doing really interesting projects. But I eventually said I don’t want to be on the sidelines anymore,” says Hackl. “I need to do my own project and bring my own vision of what the future of fashion and luxury could be.”
After conceiving the idea, Hackl was set on prototyping a label that merged experimentation with high-quality products. This is where the lab aspect comes in. “I’m a maker and a creator in some ways, and I knew I had to bring that part of experimentation into the fold,” she explains.
The lab will serve as a space in which Hackl and future collaborators can test the capabilities of advanced materials, and how products can be better connected to their owners. The proving ground will also help VerseLuxe get a head start on overtaking current players in the industry.
“I want to do things that maybe some of the brands can’t do, because they can’t move fast enough or they’re not ready to experiment with certain things,” Hackl says. But even with this advantage, the futurist wants VerseLuxe to become a synergistic hub for co-creation.
“I want to be able to test assumptions, create new products, and test out new technology. Which eventually will allow brands to come to us and say we’re really interested, can we collaborate with you? Or can we hire you to help us with xyz?”
VerseLuxe’s first collection aims to delight both jewelry aficionados with an enthusiasm for newness, as well as the native Web3 community.
Frillz’s official launch may not fall until later this year, but Hackl is already looking ahead at the next phase for VerseLuxe. “Some future things we’re looking at are AI fashion design, but taking it to a completely different level. It won’t only be within Web3 though. That’s why we’re calling it a tech luxury label. Tech is at the center of the luxury items we’re going to create.”
Hackl continues, “We’re also brainstorming the idea of virtual couture, which goes beyond wearable skins for the mass market. The question we’re asking is how do we create these bespoke moments of couture that we’ve seen in the physical world in Web3? That’s what I want to explore.”
The limited-edition collection will open for pre-order in late April, with bespoke capsule pieces starting at $555.