CryptoInCulture is a series by Highsnobiety and BeInCrypto investigating cryptocurrency, blockchain's growing influence in the creative industries and how it's impacting our culture.
Satoshi Studio is the world’s first brand building sneakers on the blockchain from the outset. The Parisian studio has just launched their very first product, the Satoshi_one, which is a pair of sneakers made with full-grain, high-quality leather from Italy, manufactured in Portugal.
Taking a minimalist approach with understated colorways and gold and silver lettering, the final product is certified on blockchain, transparent for its customers to see. This means that with each pair, you can identify where the leather came from, where the shoes were manufactured, who the owner is, and when he or she registered them on-chain.
The name “Satoshi” comes from the pseudonym of the ever elusive founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. While Satoshi himself has never been identified, this narrative only adds to the overall story of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency sphere, allowing brands like Satoshi Studio to mine inspiration for new products.
We caught up with Satoshi Studio founders Nicolas Romero and Cedric Cervantes to ask them about their new tech-fashion venture, and how it could change the resell game irrevocably.
Tell us about the journey of Satoshi Studio and how you began making shoes on the blockchain?
First, the idea was to create a brand for the crypto community. We are a group of friends from different backgrounds (tech, design and marketing) and we are all involved in crypto. We decided to start with sneakers, which was not the easiest path. We made this decision because shoes are a way for people to show the world who they are and what they believe in.
We figured it was the perfect product for a brand with a focus on its community. As Tinker Hatfield said: "Design for the community you’re part of." So that is exactly what we did. For the blockchain part, we were already interested in different projects around transparency because we think it is one of the biggest issues in the fashion industry. The use of blockchain for transparency and traceability in fashion doesn’t seem achievable in the near future owing to the complexity of the production supply chain.
As our project was taking form, a friend introduced us to two entrepreneurs whose project was to create a blockchain protocol for brands featuring unique smart certificates for valuable items and to exploit the full potential of the downstream supply chain (connecting with customers, managing circulating products, sharing information on production, and so on.). It’s a win-win partnership; we raise awareness about an ambitious project, and they work with us to test and iterate their solution while trying to get prestigious brands on board.
The relationship between tech and fashion appears to be merging closer and closer — how do you see the future of tech-fashion, and do you think blockchain will play a vital role in its evolution?
As technology merges more and more with our lives, tech and fashion is doing the same. Fashion is about being aesthetically pleasing and technology is about being more functional. People will always try to do things better and find better, more practical ways to use things. Having a tech input in our clothing and stronger digital relationships between brands and consumers is a natural evolution. As for blockchain, it will certainly play an increasingly important role in the fashion industry. It will potentially have the greatest impact on the resale market, owing to its ability to make more secure transactions between consumers without the need for the brand to be involved.
The large brands are already aware of the opportunity that blockchain offers. A good example is LVMH and its platform, AURA, which aims to bring together various luxury brands through a private Ethereum blockchain. However, we’ve got a long way to go before we have complete protection against counterfeiting. Seeing as these are physical products, fraudsters can always find “non-technical” ways to deceive consumers with counterfeits. However, this is set to get more complicated for fraudsters, especially on a large scale.
How is each pair certified on the blockchain?
A blockchain is like a ledger or database, completely public, where you can store and exchange data without the possibility of reversing, changing or corrupting it.
At the production level, we create a digital duplicate in this public database with all the information about the product (date of production, materials, model, etc.) as soon as it is manufactured. After each pre-sale campaign, we launch the production. We then store a unique ID on an NFC tag in a label holder which comes with the shoes. We also include a printed version of this unique ID in the box, for customers who do not own a smartphone with an NFC reader.
When you receive your pair of Satoshi_one, you can open our app and scan the tag. The app will then retrieve the digital agreement (smart-contract) and register you as the owner. After that, if someone else duplicates or scans the code, it will only display the certificate and owner, and will not allow anybody else to take ownership. Only the true owner with his or her wallet and private key (password) can transfer the ownership, for instance when reselling. This a classic use of blockchain against counterfeiting. For a new brand using it for a pair of sneakers, no matter how good the quality is, it may look like an unnecessary add-on. But we believe it can massively improve the experience and the relationship between the brand and its community.
Can you explain the app?
The main function of the app is to allow the customer to take ownership of the product, but also to verify the authenticity of the product. The app also plays an important role in our strategy by allowing us to connect better with our community. Our goal is to include the customer more when it comes to our production line. This will allow us not only to improve our products, but also to create new ones. That way, a customer can become more than just a consumer; he or she can become a part of the whole process. We want our community to become stakeholders. This is where our cryptocurrency (token) comes in.
What about your cryptocurrency? What role does this play within the brand’s ecosystem?
As a brand with a focus on community, collaboration must be the cornerstone of the Satoshi Studio project. We are designing a system that rewards people for certain actions, such as participating in surveys, helping us building new products, marketing, and interacting on social media. We can use our token to increase social interactions and brand loyalty.
For the first year, our token will be like a “loyalty coin” to reward our backers and contributors. After that, our token can be used by our community to pre-order our products during the next crowdfunding campaigns. We hope that the next generation of companies will take advantage of this tool to create healthy ecosystems and align their objectives with their stakeholders. We believe that value distribution and shared ownership are the future of business.
Is there anything else we should know about Satoshi Studio?
Yes, we launched our first crowdfunding campaign for the Satoshi_one and they are available for pre-sale until July 19th.