NFT: THE TECHNOLOGY THAT IS CHANGING THE ART AND FASHION MARKET
Mike Winklemann lit up his Twitter feed with two simple words, ‘holy fuck’ on March 11, 2021.
Winklemann, a South Carolina-based visual artist and graphic designer known as Beeple, tweeted about using the expletive as a possible word of absolute surprise. His vivid pastiches composed with 3-D software, now made as authenticated files with unique bits of code named Everydays — The First 5000 Days, had previously sold for nearly $69 million-plus applicable fees in an online auction at Christie’s in New York, setting a world record for the nascent digital art. The selling price, according to the auction house, immediately elevated Beeple to one of the top three most valuable living artists.
Under the auspices of non-fungible tokens, an anonymous buyer charged this high price for this ‘masterpiece,’ which was made up of digital artwork Beeple had produced over the previous thirteen years and now combed together into a rare and singular piece of art. The Beeple work is a huge collage of his sketches and digital visuals gathered for the NFT, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that are run on blockchains or digital ledgers, similar to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ether, and provide ownership authentication. On the blockchain, a ‘token’ is a unique string of characters that can be sold between owners. Non-fungible refers to something that cannot be exchanged or traded like for like.
Unlike Bitcoin, each NFT is a one-of-a-kind asset that cannot be replicated in any other format. The mounted Beeple ‘painting’ is the only one in existence, which is why it fetched such a high price at auction. A venerable auction house, Christie’s, legitimized NFT as a technology for buying and selling one-of-a-kind digital pieces. Christie’s did not market the actual collage, but rather the digital asset associated with it.
It wasn’t Winklemann’s first time selling art at the NFT. Last October, the artist sold a collection of NFT at a fixed price of $66,666.66 for each artwork. He sold another series of NFT for over $3.5 million in December. Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, the collector who paid $66,666.66 for one of the two NFTs in October, resold the work for over $2 million in February, providing much-needed evidence of Beeple’s NFT art’s worth over such a short period of time.
Designer and artist Aitor Throup had this to say about his inaugural Genesis NFT series in partnership with the Nifty Gateway marketplace on the occasion of the global launch of his ‘Anatomyland.’
I have always found it hard to fit into the standardized and centralized norms of any industry that I have worked. I don’t believe in systems or structures that limit the creative potential of the creator. For that reason, I have always rejected the fashion industry’s seasonal structure and standardization presentation format. I have realized that I am first and foremost a conceptual artist specializing in telling layered narratives through intricate character design.
– Aitor Throup, Artist, Designer, G-Star Raw Creative Consultant
Throup, an Argentinian-British graduate of the Royal College of Art’s Menswear Fashion MA program in 2006, debuted his menswear at London Fashion Week in 2007. Since then, he’s collaborated with a number of companies, including G-Star Raw, Stone Island, Umbro, C.P. Company, and Kasabian. Since his debut in London, the designer has been absent from showing his collections. He’d designed battle costumes for films like The Hunger Games, relying on his anatomical and movement expertise.
Throup had placed his fashion label, New Object Research, on hold in order to focus on developing this new design collection.
‘Anatomyland’ is a three-dimensional immersive design framework based on the NFT collection, fusing Throup’s figurative sculpture, product design, and character creation in the project’s three core characters. Rather than delivering a traditional clothing line, such as for fall 2021, Throup chose to create an NFT series based on the sculptures of the three characters — Lil Yin, Lil Yang, and Good Ol’ Dom. They reflect the epic story of humanity’s struggle to find peace in the midst of turmoil. Lil Yin and Lil Yang’s duality contrasts personal and social striving for equilibrium, while Good Ol’ Dom is an assertion of a higher self.
Even as NFT, however, there is no lack of fashion design. The characters must first be created as puppet toys, using layers of mesh fabrics and cutting them according to the characters’ attributes. Lil Yang wore a sharply cut cropped rugged denim jacket and a wrap skirt-pant, while Lil Yin wore a black mesh tee shirt and a black skirt.
Modular Veil Cap and Modular Bucket Hat, two hats worn by these two characters, will be numbered, signed, and authenticated as artworks. They’ll be connected to individual NFTs and will be available as first editions during the Nifty Gateway NFT sale. The first month of this hyper slow fashion release with a few pieces available monthly, starting with these two concept hats as NFT based on physical prototypes Throup built in his design studio as the collection has a physical basis. Clothing will be published in limited editions as well.
My decision to enter the world of NFT is a reflection of the technology’s pursuit of decentralization and the empowerment of the artist. Through my increasingly deeper understanding of digital tools, I have created complex artworks that allow me to convey the layered nature of my work in ways that my physical sculptures and objects are not capable of. I can finally get much closer to the purest version of my imagination. Nifty Gateway has been amazing in trusting my vision and helping to make it a reality
– Aitor Throup on how he wanted to find a new structure to present fashion and to present fashion in a way that is not novel but innovative and creative.
NFT is a brand new horizon of fashion, and there have been some prominent sales of fashion NFT in recent months.
A $125,000 digital Metajac Ket Og jacket was sold by the virtual brand RTFKT.
Overprice was founded in early 2021 by Impossible Briefs’ James Zwadlo and Chris Everett, as well as electronic music producer Leighton James of Adventure Club. It is a luxury fashion brand that combines the exclusive NFT with original wearable art clothes. Overpriced was created as a commentary on the changing value of wealth, art, and fashion, as well as a fashion brand driven by NFT, according to the trio. Late in April, Overpriced sold an NFT hoodie on Blockparty.co for over $26,000, which also enabled viewers to wear and authenticate their NFT through a connection on their phones.
Anatomyland by Throup is more important to the discussion of how the fashion industry will work in the digital space now and in the future. Even if it is still a small and niche market, the brand’s morphing of NFT and physical clothes will set the tone for how the industry will embrace this technology. With his Shiva skull bag and his ‘Daily Sketchbook Archives’ sketches, Throup has amassed a sizable following.
The heart of NFT is collectibles and the collectors who love them.
The fashion industry is debating how to present the spring 2022 collections at this crucial juncture, as health restrictions have changed to the point that physical shows will be possible by the start of the men’s season. The seasonal schedule, according to Throup, is no longer a viable format, and the Kering brands agree. Hopefully, luxury fashion companies will not rush back to costly staging and physical shows in the hopes of providing some sort of story to largely digital viewers.
“Demand for NFT continues to grow, and we’re excited to bring this highly innovative partnership to our community and give them access to narrative-rich, multidisciplinary work on our marketplace,” Ashley Ramos, the senior producer at Nifty Gateway. “We’re excited to support Throup’s Genesis NFT collection, which merges the artist’s disciplines of figurative sculpture, product design, and intricate character development,” Ramos said of the project.
It’s encouraging to see Aitor Throup think outside the box once more, this time inside the confines of the computer.