LVMH, Prada, Richemont join Web3’s Paris takeover

    Ahead of Paris Fashion Week, Web3 proponents flocked to the city last week to unveil their latest tech innovations at three events. What’s next for Web3 and luxury brands?
    Ahead of Paris Fashion Week, Web3 proponents flocked to the city last week to unveil their latest tech innovations at three events. What’s next for Web3 and luxury brands? Photo: 9dcc

    Paris, ground zero of luxury, is also emerging as a hotbed of Web3 innovation. Last week, timed to align with the fashion month circuit, tech arbiters rallied to the city to host a quadriptych of digital fashion symposiums: Digital Fashion Week, Future+, Future Fashion Summit, and the annual NFT Paris.

    With speakers from Prada, Aura Blockchain Consortium, Dior, and LVMH in tow this season, the events have evolved from a crypto bros knees-up to high-profile platforms that dissect the future of Web3 and its impact on the fashion industry.

    These citywide summits are prime time for brands old and new to show off their innovations to the high-fashion posse.

    “They not only facilitate connections with pioneers and influencers in the Web3 domain, but also play a crucial role in advancing the digital fashion landscape,” digital fashion house and NFT Paris attendee Nextberries tells Jing Daily.

    Here are the key takeaways and notable activations of the week.

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    Tech takes a backseat#

    Experts from across the board agreed that wider Web3 adoption depends on the tech specifics fading into the background and a pivot in focus. When it comes to traditional luxury consumers, the underlying tech is often an afterthought, not the selling point – something that Web3 brands need to consider when courting the style-savvy.

    For instance, more brands are integrating Digital Product Passports (DPP) into their products. Accelerated by looming EU legislation on product traceability, brands have become more accepting of the tech as an answer to circularity, but remain hesitant to admit that it’s powered by the blockchain.

    Digital passports were a hot topic during the Future Fashion Summit, says the conference founder and CEO of Web3 advisory agency, Holly Wood, with experts from EON and Arianee dissecting the multi application use-case of DPP’s, “from regulatory requirements, to adding value to goods by attaching experiences, like [with] the Balenciaga exclusive music hoodie,” she says.

    Nick Adler, co-founder of Web3-infused label Mntge, believes that bringing fashion on chain with DPPs and near-field communication (NFC) chips shouldn’t exclude traditional consumers, who often lack the technological understanding needed to navigate systems powered by Web3. For ease and convenience, a ‘tap in’ approach is seen as the most seamless route to adoption.

    “The blockchain gives us an amazing blank canvas to really dig into these garments and add new capabilities and information to them, so that you can just tap the chip and you know where your garment came from,” Adler adds.

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    Reforming reputations and aesthetics#

    The past year has seen a concerted effort from enthusiasts to swing the Web3 pendulum after high-profile disasters in the crypto sector (such as Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud conviction and Bored Ape Yacht Club’s market crash) dented public enthusiasm for the tech.

    Circumventing the crypto bro trope, creators are moving away from PFP-heavy, cartoon monkey aesthetics to more subtle, if-you-know-you-know characteristics in their designs.

    9dcc, for instance, is investing heavily in cultivating a business that’s taken seriously as a legitimate fashion label. Catering to what 9dcc founder and NFT collector Gmoney describes as the ‘crypto mob’ – think the next iteration of ‘tech nerds’ like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk – the luxury Web3 label is designing clothes that acknowledge the largely misunderstood crypto crowd and its members’ style preferences.

    “This emerging aspirational demographic is completely overlooked by traditional luxury brands,” says Gmoney. “Despite the luxury market’s fleeting fascination with the crypto community’s purchasing power, skepticism remains high, often linking blockchain technologies with nefarious activities.”

    For its initial collections, 9dcc used caps, t-shirts, and accessories as a low-risk entry point to gauge the consumer response and demand before committing to more outlandish apparel. Following a series of well-received drops, for its recent launch, the brand expanded into new categories, creating patterned denim co-ord sets, trench coats, and leather gilets. Like before, each networked product is embedded with its own NFC-chip. But the tech is no longer the garments’ sole selling point. It’s the designs that are the crowd-pleasers.

    At the forefront of the crypto fashion vanguard, Gmoney believes that luxury’s disregard of the demographic offers a “golden highway” to Web3-native brands.

    “Our goal was to make them feel empowered,” he adds. This season, the platform also moved away from its token-gated strategy, instead opting for a more accessible and “inclusive” e-commerce system. “We want to make sure our luxury items are available to a wider range of aficionados, especially those intrigued by the ways emerging technologies are enhancing the convenience factor,” Gmoney says.

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    Making an impact#

    Over the past 12 months, the Web3 ecosystem has borne witness to significant changes – from the rise of artificial intelligence and experiential retail, to the NFT market backslide. But, outside of the echo chamber, widespread ambivalence remains.

    Emerging technology – with AI being an exception – has often struggled to translate to the wider fashion industry. While the Web3 community has grown, it’s a cohort that has remained largely siloed.

    At the Future Fashion Summit, founder Wood focused on merging the cultural spheres of tech proponents and the fashion cognoscenti by joining forces with revered fashion media publication 10 Magazine. With almost 1 million followers on Instagram, the media channel is a household name among style evangelists, helping drive more conventional consumers to the Web3 realm. “To have their backing is a major move forward,” she says.

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    Meanwhile, Future Fashion Summit attendee Mntge banked on the endorsement of legacy denim brand Wrangler to amplify its presence. The two share a lot of common ground, says co-founder Adler, adding that the partnership “just made sense.” While established brands can offer emerging Web3 businesses a leg-up, next-generation spearheaders can in-turn encourage existing brands to “push the envelope of what traditional fashion has been able to do,” Adler adds.

    Brands have been engineering a strong Web3 comeback following dampened excitement around the tech over the past few years. And it looks to be paying off.

    “Fashion is starting to feel more confident to explore new tech,” Wood says, with an improved sense of cohesive direction spurring more people to join the tech wave. And Paris, the City of Light – now also leading-edge technology – is cementing itself as the place to do exactly that.

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