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To say that the retail industry dislikes e-commerce might be an understatement, and this rings especially true in the fashion industry. Although some brands embrace the emergence of online shopping, fashion and its success have a lot to do with a shopper’s physical experience of the products. Luxury fashion takes this fact further by putting on shows regularly to introduce their newest creations with fashion weeks hosted around the globe. Why then is the luxury industry so enthusiastic about Web3? What changed, and what could luxury brands gain from the latest craze of NFTs? We uncover likely reasons and look at the luxury brands that jumped on the NFT wagon. ✓ Digital Luxury? The luxury industry’s hostility toward online shopping stemmed from obvious fears of brand erosion and loss of exclusivity. In the last 2 decades, this loathing either transformed into indifference or adoption, but luxury brands still prefer in-person experiences for their customers. The experience translates to our senses, which used to be key in attracting new customers and building a loyal following. Today’s consumers think and act a little different to their early millennium counterparts. Savvy brands understand how fast the digital world is changing, and with the emergence of Web3 and all the potential the metaverse holds, only fools would miss out on the opportunity. With giants in the luxury sphere like Conde Nast diving into the metaverse, it is only a matter of time before others follow. The NFT movement already inspired a few high-end fashion houses and luxury lifestyle brands to create exclusive digital collections, and according to the chief marketing officer at Balmain, every luxury brand should include it in their marketing strategies. ✓ Historic Brands Embrace NFTs Once the blockchain exclusivity penny dropped and NFT sales started making headlines, luxury brands grabbed the opportunity to exist in virtual and augmented reality. Avatars need outfits, right? The most talked about part of the metaverse already has online casinos and other consumer-driven features, so it only makes sense that high-end fashion complements the residents of Decentraland. Some luxury brands only recently joined the NFT club, but others already have more than one digital exclusive range. ✓ Dolce & Gabbana They may not have been the first to join the NFT race, but the designers at the luxury fashion house set an NFT record for their Collezione Genesi sale. In partnership with UNXD, the curated marketplace for digital luxury, D&G auctioned the 9-piece collection for a whopping $6.1 million in September 2021. The exquisite collection comprised 5 real creations with digital iterations by UNXD, while the other 4 were solely virtual creations. Rather than sticking to purely digital rarity, the fashion house offered buyers the opportunity to own pieces in the metaverse, as well as in real life. Each sale came with promises of exclusive D&G events. The tremendous success of this haute couture NFT collection is still the talk of the digital fashion world. Naturally, there will be more Dolce & Gabbana NFT collections going forward. ✓ Mystery by Franck Muller Exclusive timepieces made their way into the Metaverse, and the newest addition to the luxury watch community is the Swiss watchmaker Franck Muller. The new collection is a continuation of the brand’s journey in Web3 innovations and includes the one-of-a-kind artwork, Aoki Sloane. The auction for Mystery by Franck Muller kicked off on 27 July. Franck Muller enthusiasts can find the NFTs on the Binance NFT marketplace, and the editions range from Normal, Rare, and Super Rare to Super Super Rare. Included in the auction is the 1 of 1 timepiece created for Aoki. This beguiling piece of art comprises a sapphire crystal case to reveal its intricate skeletonised movement. The Mystery collection presents buyers with 15,000 unique mystery boxes, 10 physical timepieces, 3 private events, 1 factory tour in Genèva, 10 unique 3D wearables in Decentraland, and 5 different apple watch faces by Franck Muller. ✓ A Louis Vuitton Adventure One of the most iconic names in luxury fashion launched its own NFT game last year. Louis Vuitton celebrated its bicentennial birthday in 2021, and to celebrate the momentous occasion, the team launched an NFT game titled Louis: The Game. Complete with its avatar and multiple locations, it presents players with an experiential digital game. Players help the avatar, named Vivienne, on her quest while discovering NFTs throughout the game. These NFT postcards double as travel tickets in the game, and players visit exciting locations in iconic cities around the world. The updated version of the game offers players new locations and collectables that include excerpts from the novel Louis Vuitton, L’Audacieux. Thirty of the hidden NFTs are collectable and 10 of these come with the well-known influence of the major digital artist, Beeple. ✓ Burberry at the Blankos Block Party The exclusive fashion house Burberry recently launched their second NFT collection in Mythical Games’ Blankos Block Party. With their first partnership, they featured digital vinyl toys as NFT collectables. Burberry was the first luxury brand to appear in Blankos Block Party with the Sharky B vinyl characters. Players could buy, upgrade, and sell the limited edition and limited-quantity NFTs in the Blankos Block Party marketplace. The launch of the second Burberry Blanko in June this year included the opening of new spaces for the Blanko Block Party community. Players have bespoke social space in the game where they can come together for exclusive virtual experiences. This year’s NFT collection displays Burberry’s new TB Summer monogram and a playful mythical creature, Minny B. Equipped with a spiral horn and white wings, the unicorn can fly and help players explore new spaces. ✓ Jacob & Co The famed watchmaker Jacob & Co. converted its SF27 Tourbillon timepiece into an NFT. Watch collectors and digital art enthusiasts lined up for the chance to own the one-of-a-kind digital asset. It went on auction on the ArtGrails NFT platform and sold for $100,000. Known for exceptional pieces, Jacob & Co presents watches the world has never seen before. The wearable art has high complications that captivate anyone who sees it, and the SF24 Tourbillon displays cryptocurrencies through a flap system. A completely new NFT collection from the company will launch soon. Each piece in the new Astronomia Metaverso collection is inspired by a different planet in our solar system and displays layers of watchmaking mastery and gemstones. ✓ Gucci Town and Aria The luxury fashion house Gucci launched a fashion capital in the digital world of Roblox. Gucci fans who visit Gucci Town can enjoy digital activities like Gucci-inspired competitions and unique art exhibitions. The fashion capital offers players an exclusive shopping experience where they can purchase in-game Gucci pieces and dress their avatars. Gucci is one of the more active brands in digital ownership, and its offers include a variety of collectables. The brand’s debut NFT was a short film titled Aria. Auctioned through Christie’s, Aria sold for $25,000 in June 2021, and Alessandro Michele created the four-minute-long video and co-directed it. Photographer Floria Sigismondi collaborated with Michele, who is the brand’s creative director. ✓ Jimmy Choo Hits the Streets The high-fashion shoe brand ventured into the NFT world alongside the New York-based artist Eric Haze. Inspired by ultimate punk-glam, the designs showcased how luxury embraces the perfect imperfections of street art. The collection included a mystery box series and an exclusive auction. An exclusive prize of hand-painted sneakers went to the highest bidder. One hundred lucky winners walked away with limited edition Jimmy Choo NFTs by collecting an SSR or SR NFT during the snapshot period of the auction. The mystery boxes were 8,888 NFT cards divided into four tiers of rarity, and each displayed different stilettos from the brand’s collection. ✓ Balmain on the Blockchain Another luxury brand that embraced the potential of Web3 and blockchain exclusivity is Balmain. The high-fashion company boasts a couple of NFT collections, and one was in collaboration with the fitness brand, Dogpound. Owners of the NFTs received unique physical experiences, playing into the exclusivity of the brand. Its first NFT was a design that embodied the advantage of digital fashion. The couture design by Rousteing was a high-fashion garment, complete with a dramatic hat and heels, engulfed in flames. One of the brand’s latest collections released in January saw a collaboration between Balmain and Barbie. It comprises a series of three Barbie avatars created in partnership with Forgot Me Not GMBH, and buyers received a physical Barbie as well.
Key Takeaways Chatter and hype about NFTs in online communities mirrored sales trends in March and April 2021, peaking in the second week of March and falling sharply thereafter. 46% of online discussions about NFTs were positive, compared to only 12% that were negative. NBA Top Shot garnered the most total positive mentions in online NFT communities of any NFT-related platform, company, or person. The Rise of the NFT Since the first digital work of art was linked to a certificate of ownership back in 2014, the NFT (non-fungible token) market has experienced a huge boom, especially in the last year. In March 2021 alone, worldwide sales of NFTs amounted to a total of over $100 million, dwarfing sales in all previous years combined. An explosion of crypto-art-centered online communities accompanied by prolific media coverage gave distinction to this new platform for digital artists and creatives, but has the interest been sustained? Read on to see a breakdown of NFT hype over the past year. A Brief History of the Non-Fungible Token The term NFT entered popular usage in 2017. To put it simply, an NFT is a digital token that certifies an asset (whether it's a video, photo, or other form of digital material) to be unique, which makes the digital asset a collectible item. Even if the photo or video can be copied, the NFT validates ownership of the piece and verifies its authenticity. They are generally encoded with similar software used for cryptocurrencies and often bought and sold online using cryptos. NFTs became more widely known to the general population in 2020. One of the biggest triggers of the public's sudden interest in NFTs was the launch of the NBA Top Shot collection at the end of 2020, which enabled fans to purchase and collect NBA moments featuring their favorite player or team, just like trading cards or other collectible sports items. On the NBA Top Shot trading platform, where fans can buy, sell, and trade these assets, some NFTs sell for over $250,000. Musicians, such as Grimes, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and others, also contributed to the sharp rise of NFTs by putting various items up for sale. Grimes sold several pieces of digital art for a total of over $6 million. Other artists and celebrities who recently offered NFTs for sale include top models Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne, TV star Ellen DeGeneres, and skateboarder Tony Hawk. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, auctioned his first tweet on the social media platform from March 2006, and the highest bidder took it for $2.9 million in a highly publicized sale in March 2021. The 2020-2021 NFT Popularity Boom The popularity of NFTs grew steadily throughout 2020 and peaked in March 2021, when NFT sales experienced a huge surge worldwide. The popularity of NFTs in online communities can easily be correlated to sales numbers for the same period. The previously mentioned peak in the second week of March 2021 was caused by a Christie's auction that saw the NFT of a piece by artist Beeple auctioned for $69 million. During this same week, Reddit posts related to NFTs reached a volume of over 3,500. As NFT sales declined in the following week, so did the interest of online communities. However, the number of mentions since this drop is still much higher than it was at the end of 2020, showing that there has been increased interest in NFTs over the first half of 2021 overall. How Do Online Communities Feel About NFTs? This growing interest in NFTs is reflected by a generally positive sentiment toward them in online communities. Only 12% of posts expressed negative feelings toward NFTs, while 46% actively supported them. NBA Top Shot receives a lot of mentions with one of the highest percentages for positive feedback. This very popular platform clearly contributes significantly to the public's interest and overall approval of NFTs. OpenSea, the most mentioned platform on our chart, is one of the largest vendors of NFTs. The platform offers items in various categories such as music, art, and sport. Users can also sell their own NFTs, so OpenSea doubles as a marketplace – and a very popular one at that, with sales reaching $160 million in June 2021. Earlier in the year, musician Shawn Mendes used OpenSea to sell over $600,000 worth of digital clothing intended for users' avatars. CryptoSwap Finance had the highest percentage of positive mentions with 81%. This recently launched platform does not sell NFTs like OpenSea but rather specializes in crypto-trade and exchange, as well as crypto-farming and staking. NFTs in the Media NFTs have also been increasingly featured in the headlines of major media outlets, and these articles play an important role in fueling the public's interest. In recent months, renowned publications such as Forbes, Business Insider, and The Guardian helped to shine the spotlight on NFTs and bring them to the attention of a much larger audience. Media interest peaked toward the end of March 2021, a couple of weeks after the sharp increase of posts and mentions witnessed in online communities, as well as some of the biggest NFT sales. Over the last year, hundreds of articles with headlines related to NFTs have been published. Headlines from notable publications include the following: "Are NFT Purchases Real? The Dollars Are." (The New York Times) "NFT Art Marketplace Sets New Records" (Forbes) "NFT sales volume soared to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, as artists, celebrities and even Twitter and CNN joined the crypto craze" (Business Insider) Media Sentiment Regarding NFTs Looking at the wide coverage of NFTs over the last few months, the overall sentiment seems a little more mixed among journalists and media publications than the general public. An analysis of published articles in the last year shows that 31% were positive, 14% were negative, and the majority remaining neutral. The Street and Benzinga have offered the most extensive coverage, with around 400 articles on NFTs each over the past 12 months. Forbes and Business Insider have also published plenty of NFT-related content, with Business Insider being the media outlet with the largest percentage of positive articles on the topic. Looking at the type of publications that extensively cover NFTs, the topic clearly sparks interest first and foremost in the financial and business sectors. This is because NFTs are not collected solely for bragging rights or the buyer's enjoyment; they are often also purchased as an investment that will gain value over time. Several articles discuss NFTs from an investor's perspective, including this one from popular magazine Rolling Stone. However, with mainstream publications such as The New York Times and Billboard also writing regularly about NFTs, the subject is swiftly reaching a broader audience. The Next Wave of NFTs NFTs have seen a sharp rise in interest from both the general public and the media in the last year, thanks to significant signal-boosting from celebrities, news platforms, and respected artistic institutions. And although public interest may have waned somewhat from its March 2021 peak, sustained media coverage and community enthusiasm suggest that the crypto art market will continue to provide space for digital artists to thrive for years to come. Are you interested in joining an investing-style community of your own? GamblersPick offers opportunities for connection with people from all over the world who share your interests and excitement and are available to weigh in on whatever investments you may be considering. You'll also find news, guides, casino information, and many other resources. Head to GamblersPick today to check it out. Methodology and Limitations To analyze buzz and hype about NFTs in online communities, we scraped five of the most popular NFT-related subreddits for posts between July 2020 and July 2021: r/NFT, r/NFTsMarketplace, r/NFTExchange, r/nbatopshot, and r/CryptoArt. For some of these communities, posts not tagged as discussion or posts tagged as sales listings or advertisements were excluded. Our sample included more than 31,000 posts. To evaluate media coverage of the topic, we analyzed over 3,000 headlines from 143 online publications for mentions of NFTs and NFT-related topics. Sentiment analysis for all posts and headlines was performed using VADER. Posts on NFT-related subreddits were unavailable for the dates March 17–27th and April 9–14th of 2021. Sentiment analysis in this project is meant to convey the approximate attitude of the populations analyzed, not that of the general public or artists. Fair Use Statement Think your friends and family might want to brush up on their NFT knowledge? Feel free to share these findings – we only ask that you do so for noncommercial use and that you provide a link back to this page so the contributors can earn credit for their work.