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Exploring Digital Fashion in the Metaverse: A Conversation with RTFKT Studios.
Their forthcoming Clone X project is just the tip of the iceberg.
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Avatars and identity are set to be revolutionized with the emergence of the metaverse. Users will be immersed within augmented virtual reality, allowing them to express themselves in captivating and interactive ways, hosted by platforms such as The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Cryptovoxels. As these platforms have demonstrated that they will integrate NFTs and therefore enable users to flex their NFTs and other wearables.
The metaverse is fast becoming more and more of a reality. As Mark Zuckerberg alluded to in his recent keynote video, Meta (formerly Facebook) will utilize VR to push the boundaries of technology with project Cambria. Here your avatar will make natural eye contact and make facial expressions that reflect your own in real-time, highlighting the development of social presence. This is just a glimpse into how the metaverse will extend the importance of our digital identity. Importantly, no one single vision is going to create the metaverse; a combination of all of our visions and ideas will make the metaverse a reality.
For digital fashion and clothing, the NFT space is a natural evolution. Exclusivity and rarity are factors that contributed to success in the physical world for high-end fashion. Similarly, the NFT space is a fresh new avenue to explore for those fashion brands who understand and appreciate the zeitgeist. As we become more conscious of our digital identity, and once the technology facilitates it, there is no doubt that NFTs will be the springboard to creating a new boom. It will open an opportunity for us to tailor and determine our identity with what we collect and choose to wear.
Of course, it is still very early. The concept of the metaverse is in its infancy and won’t be fully developed for several years. Concerns for privacy, security, and interoperability will have to be addressed too. However, progress is quick in such a fast-moving new space and we see exciting developments every day.
Take, for instance, RTFKT studios. They are a creator-led company within the NFT scene creating next-generation sneakers and collectibles ready for the metaverse—merging the worlds of fashion and gaming. They are exploring the meaning of digital fashion, accelerating its adoption, and catching the attention of some of the most renowned, traditional fashion brands. How? They use the latest technology and manufacturing expertise to craft some of the most cutting-edge and exclusive sneakers that the NFT world has seen. As their name denotes, ‘artifacts’ are the legacy that they are leaving behind in the metaverse.
RTFKT has launched a number of NFT projects since they began in 2020, with each collection garnering significant attention from the NFT community. There are no limits to their expansion. With an $8 million funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, they are set to shape the future of fashion and e-commerce in the metaverse.
At this juncture, the studio may still be most well known for their collaboration with Fewocious, an 18-year-old NFT artist. The drop sold out within 7 minutes and generated over $3 million in revenue, demonstrating just how sought-after digital fashion collectibles are becoming. Today this collection of NFTs has a floor price of 12.9 ETH on OpenSea. By comparison, renowned (and controversial) artist Damien Hirst's NFT collection 'The Currency' has a current floor price of 5.4 ETH. Additionally, as of October, the first-ever physical Fewocious RTKFT, the fewo legendary sneaker was sold for $7,500 via StockX, proving that the physical is just as important as the digital.
As well as the NFT and physical item, RTKFT is bridging the digital with reality in the metaverse, making the sneakers usable across a host of metaverse platforms including The Sandbox, and Decentraland. Furthermore, they are testing both AR and VR applications, uniquely enabling holders to try their sneakers on using social media platforms such as Snapchat.
The exclusivity of RTKFT as a brand is growing quickly too. In May, the brand dropped Metapigeons, a collaboration with Jeff Staple. Fast forward 5 months later and one of the sneakers sold for $100,000.
More recently they launched Punk Project, a collection that they hope will pave the way for the fashion industry. The collection consists of 10,000 unique sneakers, and they are exclusively available to Punk owners. RTFKT is reaching a next-generation scale of personalized creation with the mad genius scientist MGXS, to create a website unique for each punk. Of course, there is more to the ownership of the sneaker, whereby owners will receive the 1/1 sneaker NFT, a physical version, a VXL portrait, and access to metaverse wearables.
Although digital fashion has underpinned the growth of RTFKT studios, they have similarly branched out into other NFT avenues, most notably their upcoming Clone X launch, a metaverse ready PFP avatar project that has been in the works for over 6 months. Clone X doesn't end there though.
Clone X is a generative art project created by RTFKT—a collection of 20,000 unique avatars, humans who have had their consciousness transferred into advanced clone forms, ready for the metaverse. To take the art to the next level, the team collaborated with their idol, Takashi Murakami, a renowned fashion designer who has worked on the creation of the Clone X traits, capturing the cartoony aesthetic that he is well known for. Furthermore, the avatars are fully 3D rigged, meaning they will be compatible in the metaverse or in AR.
RTKFT has already teased the space pods that every Clone X avatar will hold, making it one of the first NFT projects to integrate their collectibles into the metaverse. Despite the corporate visions of the metaverse, RTFKT are proving that they are similarly capable of introducing novel technology and taking the metaverse to the next level.
I asked the RTKFT team a few questions to find out more about their focus on digital fashion, and their plans to push the boundaries of NFTs in the metaverse.
What does RTFKT intend to create in the Metaverse; what is your goal?
We’ve started with sneakers, and have our first generation of avatars, Clone X, coming up soon. That’s the beginning of a new ecosystem and extension of our brand in the Metaverse. As we continue to build up, daily, we aim to continue to create wearables, characters, experiences, architecture, and worlds on the Metaverse. Our goal is to lead the way and continue to expand what a Brand born on the metaverse can be, while inspiring and involving our community and our favorite artists.
What is your vision for the future of digital fashion in the metaverse?
We believe the Metaverse is the opportunity for many more creative visions and creators to stand out. While IRL fashion has been controlled by the same tastemakers for decades, the Metaverse will empower many new subcultures and aesthetics, unconstrained by laws of physics and a legacy business model and codes IRL fashion brands have to follow. Dynamic, evolutive, unique 1/1 for your avatars and unlimited diversity are some of the examples the Metaverse enables for ‘fashion’.
Our goal is to lead the way and continue to expend what a brand born on the metaverse can be, while inspiring and involving our community and our favorite artists.
- RTFKT STUDIOS
How will Clone X revolutionize the NFT avatar projects?
Clone X is the start of a full ecosystem for RTFKT, an evolution of our Brand that we think will redefine how you think of fashion brands, going beyond ‘clothes.' The fact we’ve been developing all in 3D, and are giving access to 3D files to the future Clone owners, is a game-changer in the sense that, not only will people be able to express themselves with their avatars, but we envision a new kind of relationship forming between owners and 3D creators who will create bespoke content for the avatars, replicating what we’ve seen with fortnite 3D models ripped by blender creators, creating content for twitch streamers and you tubers. It’s a full ecosystem, being built live, and the avatars are just the tip of the iceberg.
We’re always going hard on utilities and plan to continue evolving our forging events mechanics, allowing people to forge physicals of their Clones fits, bringing some of their Avatar Identity to their IRL live, as people start to cosplay their characters IRL more and more.
The avatars are just the tip of the iceberg.
- RTFKT STUDIOS
What plans do you have for the future that we may not know about?
With RTFKT, there’s always something you don’t know about…