Pharrell’s NFT Pop-Up, Balenciaga’s AR WeChat Game & More: Web3 Drops Of The Week

It may have taken a few months, but brands in Web3 have finally found their groove ahead of 2023’s second quarter. 

This week, Web3 fashion label Mntge dropped its widely anticipated physical collection, which received rave reviews after selling out in 24 hours. Pharrell Williams also brought his creative and collaborative visions to life through an offline pop-up experience, which saw the NFT collective Doodles team up with the artist’s streetwear label BBC Icecream.

In China, Balenciaga is exploring new avenues across the mainland’s online ecosystem by launching a WeChat mini-game as part of its 520 campaign. The augmented reality-powered experience is one of many taking over the country right now, as its new technological phase continues on a steady growth trajectory.

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Mntge’s “Fruits & Veggies” collection sold out in 24 hours. Photo: Mntge

Mntge Brings Its Vintage Fashion Vision To Web3 With NFC-Connected “Fruits & Veggies” Drop

What Happened: Web3 vintage apparel label Mntge dropped its first physical product collection on April 26, featuring a limited-edition series of custom, tech-enabled vintage denim and graphic tees. The “Fruits & Veggies” collection includes a number of specially sourced pieces, including one-of-one Levi’s 505s that were embroidered in Los Angeles in a pattern designed by Mntge’s co-founder Sean Wotherspoon. Each product is NFC-chipped and connected to a one-of-a-kind numbered, collectible denim art token, which can be accessed via a digital wallet.

Celebrating the history and heritage of true vintage garments, the collection included a number of branded graphic T-shirts ranging from the 1960s to 2000s, which were made available following the initial denim drop. Buyers could purchase the items via Mntge’s dedicated marketplace, priced at $200 for Mntge Passholders and $250 for non-passholders.

The Verdict: With the vintage and archive fashion market booming offline, Mntge is unlocking a new purview for the virtual sector. Thanks to its unique perspective on approaching luxury in Web3, the brand has garnered attention from tech enthusiasts and others.

Response to the first physical collection has been largely positive, selling out in less than 24 hours. The only criticism has been that the variety of sizes available wasn’t enough to cater to every interested investor. Yet even those who didn’t manage to cop a piece were impressed by the platform’s seamlessness.

As far as debut launches go, Web3 startups have often had to contend with clunky checkout processes and rookie communication errors, but Mntge’s has set the standard high for itself and future competitors. 

Balenciaga released an AR-powered WeChat game ahead of China’s 520 Valentine’s Day. Photo: WeChat

Balenciaga Taps Augmented Reality In 520-Themed WeChat Mini-Game

What Happened: Balenciaga has unveiled a creative campaign for its 520 limited edition collection, featuring both video and print works by photographer Andrea Artemisio. In addition, the brand has launched an augmented reality-powered mini-game on its official WeChat account. Players enter a virtual world as farmers wearing items from the 520 collection and learn about regenerative agriculture to complete tasks, which can earn them limited edition stickers, wallpapers, and wish cards.

Balenciaga is on a mission to bolster its reputation. While the Parisian label looked to the past for its Fall 2023 physical collection, it’s harnessing next-generation tech trends like AR to build its virtual identity and propel it into the mainland’s spotlight.

The Verdict: Capitalizing on China’s holiday seasons to unlock the spending power of local consumers is nothing new. Brands and retailers want in on the benefits. To differentiate themselves from the competition, some labels are opting to launch their campaigns via the Chinaverse and other digital avenues. Li-Ning is generating buzz by developing a metaverse love story for the upcoming event, while Prada raffled off 20 limited-edition digital collectibles to select Tmall Luxury Pavilion shoppers in February for the Lunar New Year.

Balenciaga’s latest move also taps the gamification trend, which continues to captivate netizens countrywide. In addition to providing instant gratification to users who complete activities and receive rewards, the mini game serves as a way to educate consumers on the brand’s agricultural strategies.

Pharrell Williams merged his work at Doodles and streetwear label BBC Icecream during Something In The Water festival this week. Photo: Doodles

Pharrell Williams Merges Doodles NFT Project With Streetwear Heavyweight BBC Icecream In New Offline Pop-Up Experience 

What Happened: For Pharrell’s first IRL moment as the Chief Brand Officer of Doodles, the NFT label partnered with the multi-hyphenate’s streetwear brand BBC Icecream on a curated pop-up experience, which took place during the Something in the Water festival at Virginia Beach in the US this week.

The pop-up, dubbed “Doodle Beach,” featured an exclusive joint collection from Doodles and BBC Icecream, comprising a variety of T-shirts, hats, shorts, skateboards and towels.

Visitors were able to enjoy free ice cream, receive a sneak peak of new digital wearables in the Doodles universe, and shop the exclusive BBC Icecream x Doodles collection at the on-site ShopDoodles kiosk. A portion of the sales went to Williams’ non-profit organization Yellow, which provides resources and toolkits to help close the educational divide.

The Verdict: With Web3 hype sobering, this year has seen a resounding push to bring online communities together through offline experiences. For NFT.NYC, a number of brands including Adidas and Gmoney pivoted their focus to curating physical meet-ups, in hopes of making as much of an impact in the physical world as they have in the digital. 

In Pharrell’s case, bringing Doodles and BBC Icecream together feels like an organic coalescence, with the creative exploring new possibilities of pushing his artistic and commercial boundaries. Moreover, hosting the experience at the Something In The Water festival, which generated 50,000 attendees last year, is likely to encourage more non-Web3 natives to engage with Doodles and contribute to the project’s mainstream growth.


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