With the rapid expansion and mainstreaming of NFTs across industries from soccer to sneakers, it’s unsurprising that high fashion is keen to stake its own claim on Web3 and the Metaverse, though early stabs at Web3 crossovers were often ill-defined (honestly, a lot of them still are pretty clunky).
But, like with any new tech, it takes time to get a sense of one's bearings. Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s latest project, a Gucci Vault NFT collaboration with digital artist Wagmi-san, epitomizes this kind of course correction.
Where the Italian house’s first several entries into the NFT realm were more about feeling out the medium, Gucci's latest Web3 efforts have felt more authentic, thanks in part to collaborations with familiar Metaverse names.
For instance, in partnering with Wagmi-san, a digital-native designer based in the Metaverse's New Tokyo who's already much revered by NFT insiders, Gucci has gives itself a sturdier foothold into Web3, a far cry from 2021's experimental Sneaker Garage.
The implementation of the Gucci x Wagmi-san collaboration is particularly savvy, for a few reasons.
Firstly, using Wagmi-san’s well-established 10KTF company as the collection's retail outlet gives Gucci a name-brand base in the Metaverse, organically aligning the drop within the community.
Second, the fact that the items for sale are based on existing Gucci items – pegged to recent collections like Spring/Summer 2022's Love Parade – gives them a sense of fashion legitimacy.
Third — perhaps most important of all — these items are only available to those who already own a PFP (that’s Picture for Proof) NFT – such as a Bored Ape. This means that Gucci isn't trying to lure in blockchain newcomers or to reinvent the wheel by creating singularly Gucci NFTs.
The fact that these items are so firmly targeted at those already involved in the W3 community is, however, a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, Gucci x Wagmi-san is a good sign that the fashion industry is taking some time to reassess its approach to blockchain-based crossovers.
This signifies both fewer ham-fisted cash grabs on the part of big-name designers and a willingness to engage with the Meta-native artists pushing creative boundaries.
On the other, the collab points to a willingness to maintain a kind of insider mentality within the community.
While the presence of a brand like Gucci in a Meta-city like New Tokyo may convince skeptics that Web3 is a world worth exploring, setting up a project that first serves the existing community could just as easily keep the unsure on the outside.
But it's a small quibble. Gucci’s Wagmi-san collab leans positive, insinuating legitimate integration between fashion heavyweights and W3 technology.
For now, at least, successful entry into the Metaverse hinges on these kinds of thoughtful partnerships. On that point, other fashion houses could stand to take note.