Hot on the heels of LVMH’s latest link up with Epic Games, luxury fashion giant Dior announced on June 29 it would launch a new line of mens sneakers on July 6, branded B33. The skate-inspired kicks have a near-field communication (NFC) chip embedded into their soles, which the brand says can be used to validate authenticity and access a “personal, secure platform offering dedicated services.” What exactly that entails is yet to be disclosed.
The sneakers start at $1,350, with only 470 pairs initially available.
They also arrive with their very own digital twin (or in Dior’s words, an “encrypted digital key”) which – unsurprisingly – the house shies away from referring to as a non-fungible token (NFT). In fact, it’s hard to pinpoint any areas where Dior uses native Web3 language in its promotional content.
This pivot away from the typical blockchain-related jargon and crypto-bro terminology is no doubt an intentional decision, with Dior joining a long line of luxury houses embellishing their Web3-centric products with phrases like ‘tokenized fashion’ or ‘connected products’ to avoid negative connotations.
This also isn’t Dior’s first foray into the metaverse – the brand tested the waters in China last year with its virtual runway in Baidu’s metaverse space Xirang – but this is the first time the house has leaned towards a more global approach. To do so, it’s jumping on the NFT revival and targeting the lux-streetwear community.
An unconvinced reception
While tech enthusiasts shared rave reviews on this latest launch, hailing it as a promising first step in Dior’s virtual strategy, the wider fashion community wasn’t convinced. After the sneaker went viral, consumers have compared the design to the Puma Baskets, dubbing Dior’s take on the silhouette as an “overpriced dupe.” One user commented under Hypebeast’s Instagram post on the drop: “Who even needs them?”
It’s an ironic comparison, considering Puma’s recent success in the Web3 space. The competitor unveiled a refined digital roadmap last year, and has been leading the next-gen sneakerhead charge ever since.
A damp squib of a response from the fashion crowd, plus the brand’s vague promises of the benefits that arrive with the NFT, have left much to be desired. The release also shows that brand status is no longer enough to sway an audience, implying Dior should reconsider what it can do to make itself more original among the saturated Web3 market.
Despite Dior’s lackluster entry into the NFT market, thanks to more successful moves from subsidiaries, like Louis Vuitton’s recent $42,000 digital trunk, the LVMH conglomerate remains at the virtual vanguard across the luxury sector, even with competitors like Kering (and Gucci’s metaverse division) in play.