The big story this week arrives from Diesel, which has this year committed to leaning further into the digital space and embracing the virtual zeitgeist. This week, the fashion house launched the first drop from its latest project. The initiative deploys Web3 to foster relationships between rising music talents and their fanbases.
The launch’s numbers indicate it was a success, and the brand is making waves as much offline as it is online. But can it uphold its reputation as it moves further along its digital journey?
In other notable news, denim powerhouse Levi’s has jumped onto the virtual model bandwagon. It plans to focus this year on its digital transformation journey and invest in emerging tech to improve its e-commerce experience. Using artificial intelligence, the label intends to diversify its shopping platforms through hyper-realistic avatars, thus reducing the need for human models.
Turning to China, as rules surrounding digital collectibles and token trading in the mainland are relaxed, the country’s e-commerce giants are back with a bang. As part of its spring campaign, Tmall invited five of its top-performing brands to launch their own digital collectibles — and the stellar response across social media channels shows that China’s appetite for virtual assets is bigger than ever.
> Happening Now!@HoneyLuvmusic dropped her first #Web3Music track ‘FASHION’ on Public Pressure. This is the first drop of our partnership w/ @DIESEL featuring a downloadable audio track with exclusive artwork created by visual designer Nic Paranoia.
— PUBLIC PRESSURE (@jointhepressure) March 15, 2023
Diesel Marries Music And Technology In The Metaverse For Its Latest Web3 Success Story
What Happened: Diesel is expanding on its presence in the metaverse. On March 15, the luxury house and Gen Z favorite teamed up with international Web3 media company Public Pressure to unveil the first commercial campaign from their partnership, which the brands announced last year.
Their latest initiative aims to “celebrate the fabric and future of underground music by promoting breakthrough artists, Web3 culture and technology,” as issued in its release statement.
The inaugural nonfungible token (NFT) drop, the first in a planned “Discovery” series of four token collections, featured a downloadable audio track, Fashion by LA-based DJ/Producer HoneyLuv, alongside a piece of exclusive artwork by Italian designer Nic Paranoia. The content’s authenticity is verified via Kilt’s identity blockchain protocol.
The Verdict: The first release sold out within four hours with over 1,200 tracks minted, generating almost $50,000 in revenue. In the offline world, an artist would need approximately 11,700,000 streams to earn an equivalent amount, according to the brand. Spotify, for example, pays artists an average of $0.003 to $0.005 per stream. Though word has spread this year that NFTs are dead, the impressive outcome of this project suggests otherwise.
As for Diesel, the brand is banking on the art, and power, of collaboration to help it achieve its Web3 ambitions. Late last year the label joined forces with popular NFT collective Hape on a streetwear-inspired digital collectibles release. As a fashion brand that’s synonymous with supporting socially responsible youth culture, the house has planned to establish itself as a “patron of discovery” via Public Pressure, with the goal of energizing direct interactions between emerging artists and their fans.
Levi’s Launches AI-Generated Virtual Models To Bolster Inclusivity And Consumer E-Commerce Experience
What Happened: Levi’s announced on Wednesday that it will test AI-generated virtual models as a new e-commerce tool. In a bid to leverage its artificial intelligence efforts and increase diversity across the brand, a number of body-inclusive avatars are being developed to supplement the company’s human models and elevate the consumer experience.
As described by Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co., the tech will allow Levi’s to create “hyper-realistic models of every body type, age, size, and skin tone”.
The Verdict: The label is working with LaLaLand.ai, an AI-powered digital fashion studio, to expand its model availability. Right now, the company’s e-commerce site and app typically showcase one model per product, but this new development will open doors for more inclusive experiences, including allowing customers to see products on more models that more closely align with their body types.
From Lil Miquela to Ayayi, virtual models are on a worldwide growth trajectory. In China alone, the digitized influencer market revenue is forecast to reach $3 billion (20.5 billion RMB) this year, according to research firm iiMedia. Though Levi’s project paves the way for a more inclusive future in fashion, the boom in virtual models has concerns rising over whether these entities will replace the need for human counterparts due to their convenience. However, the brand has made sure to emphasize that this new direction will not sway it from continuing to hire real, diverse models also.
Tmall’s Spring Campaign Invites Retail Giants To Launch Digital Collectibles. Is China’s Virtual Asset Market Back On The Rise?
What Happened: For this year’s spring campaign, Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall has unveiled its “My New Spring Flowers in Bloom” project, which taps the creativity of five of the country’s renowned brands – including Vans, iQOO and L’Oréal – through NFTs.
To mark the annual membership event, Tmall rolled out a limited-edition digital collectable series of virtual flowers for the five participants, each designed to represent the brands’ new products of the month.
As part of the project, Tmall also hosted a series of raffles for audiences to win exclusive gifts, while brand members were able to obtain digital collectables for free. After receiving the collectible, holders were also able to earn exclusive member rights related to the corresponding brand’s products.
The Verdict: Following the shuttering of a number of digital token-dedicated platforms including Tencent’s, brands in China had taken a brief hiatus from digital collectibles.
More recently, however, with rules on NFT trading being relaxed in the mainland, the trend is showing signs of being back on the rise. In fact, this week it was announced that China’s investments in the metaverse will outpace the West’s by the end of 2023, thanks to factors such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the launch of its national digital asset exchange, which was announced in January this year.
This rising demand for token-based experiences also came to light during Tmall’s campaign, which generated colossal exposure among netizens. On the Chinese social media platform Weibo, the hashtags “My New Spring Flowers in Bloom” and “Annual member day on Tmall” generated over 140 million and 6.57 billion views, respectively.