Best known for its creative commitment to collaborations and appointing Gen-Z beacons — such as Korean girl group ITZY — as global brand ambassadors, Singaporean-based label Charles & Keith has made a name for itself across Asia and beyond. With quality and innovation at the forefront since its launch 26 years ago, the brand has consistently demonstrated an ability to tap the latest social media tastemakers without compromising on its aesthetic, ultimately defining what it means to be a contemporary brand of today.
As of now, the company operates more than 700 stores worldwide and was stated to be potentially valued at more than $2 billion (over 14 billion RMB), thanks to its talent for capturing the zeitgeist through design. But by positioning itself in the high-end, affordable fashion market, competition is rife. Holding onto one’s cultural relevance while remaining one of Singapore’s largest e-commerce giants is no easy feat. Recognizing the challenges that lie ahead, this year the brand took its efforts to the next level and began to make its mark in the metaverse.
The accessories and footwear line was one of the first of its kind to announce that it would be accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method at the start of this year. Since then, it’s gone on to participate in the Decentraland’s first ever Metaverse Fashion Week in March 2022 and — most recently — teamed up with Parisian fashion label Both on a capsule NFT collection, “Imaginary You.”
In a conversation about the brand’s first foray into the NFT landscape as part of its wider collaborative project with Both, Keith Wong, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, shares with Jing Daily how the metaverse is bringing new life to fashion marketing, the inspiration behind the label’s token collection, and what’s next on the agenda for its digital roadmap.
Why did you choose to incorporate an NFT collection into the collaboration between Charles & Keith and Both, in addition to a physical product line?
We launched a unique one-of-one NFT featuring digital influencer Unreal Zoe for the Both x Charles & Keith collaboration because we wanted to explore how we could use Web3 as a marketing tool with a metahuman donning the collaboration products. It was also a kind of teaser for Charles & Keith entering the Web3 space.
NFT utility has become a major conversation within the digital fashion sector. Can you elaborate a little more on what the future utility of your latest tokens will include?
Some of the utilities included a physical pair of the collaboration’s shoes and bag, as well as exclusive collectibles as part of the partnership such as patches and a tote bag. Owners of the NFT also then received priority whitelist for our next NFT drop, which basically means that they will have priority to a guaranteed mint on the next NFT collection by Charles & Keith.
Since you started dabbling in the metaverse, many more fashion competitors have entered the space with their own digital projects. How do you aim to maintain relevance in Web3 and differ from what other brands are doing?
We wanted to tease and generate this feeling of excitement around the launch of our collaboration. The metaverse has really enabled us to experience a universe outside of reality at our convenience, so we want to utilize this immersive digital landscape that serves as a platform for people from around the world to gather and create new conversations as best as possible.
Being such a prominent name within the contemporary fashion sector, it’s essential that you are able to spot and recognize the next trend. What do you think the future holds for fashion and the metaverse?
More fashion brands are entering the world of Web3 and the metaverse, meaning these will play a significant role in the near future. For us at Charles & Keith, the Web3 space is allowing for an immersive experience to try on our shoes and bags digitally. As for the growing phygital side of things, I think that the virtual space is making it easier for users with regard to product authentication.
Finally, are there any more exciting projects coming up in the metaverse that you can tell us about?
We can’t disclose any information as yet, but we’ve got several meta projects planned for next year. Do watch this space!