GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE, SOLD TO NFTS
BY ISHITA KODE AND EMILY KAGAN
COVER ART: JULIANNA LUKACS
The Renaissance era was symbolic of both a modern world and a transitional period. Life today resembles a Renaissance-like era, as values and artforms constantly evolve. Yet, when we compare the art of the Renaissance to the art of today, the common variable is rarity. The value of Renaissance art came from the scarcity of the materials and pigments, while the value of modern art comes from its uniqueness, which is maintained by non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
NFTs make up the core of the current cryptocurrency market trend. They are bought and sold through crypto-currencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin, preserving the exclusivity of NFTs by limiting them to high-value customers. In addition to serving a specific market, NFTs themselves are irreplaceable, rendering them valuable in the eyes of collectors and those who desire a certain status provided by social assets.
As the NFT market swelled post-pandemic due to an increase in cryptocurrency investors, eager artists jumped on this trend as a way to monetize their digital assets. Since the market is roughly worth $2.5 billion as of the second quarter of 2021, luxury fashion houses have begun to experiment with NFTs. In late May, Gucci opened an auction on an NFT through Christie’s Auction House. The NFT came from Aria, a four-minute film meant to accompany Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection. Christie’s has been at the forefront of facilitating NFT sales and its collaboration with Gucci marks the creation of a new auctioning space for crypto-art. Auctioning for the film closed on June 3, 2021 for $25,000.
Cathy Hackl, CEO of the first metaverse focused agency called Futures Intelligence Group, says that “we’ll see an evolution of volumetric video and NFTs that will not only unlock unique access and experiences, but also take ownership of digital assets to new levels. We’re just scratching the surface of what NFTs will be able to unlock for fashion.” Throughout the pandemic, the profitability of NFTs has increased exponentially, further showing the potential for NFTs from an economic perspective.
This year to date, the value of Ethereum has increased more than 487.44% and the value of Bitcoin has risen over 110.16%. Due to this increase, both platforms have had an incredible influx of cash over the course of the pandemic. Whilst the pandemic limited the profitability of many stocks on the market, the influx of attention received by Etherum and Bitcoin allowed for their exponential growth. The growth and attention towards NFTs emphasizes their exclusivity and the high-value consumers they invite.
Collectors admire the irreplaceable uniqueness of NFTs, given that social assets often offer customers the status they ascribe to. Virtual fashion brand RTFKT (pronounced “artefact'') produced and sold a digital jacket earlier this year for over $125,000. RTFKT attributes its grand success to “paying zealous attention to the digital-first world of zealous teenagers” (VogueBusiness). “Another NFT fashion brand success, Overpriced.™, was able to sell an NFT hoodie for $26,000 through connecting with the meme-centric, self-referential nature of crypto culture” (VogueBusiness).
Benoit Pagotto, founder of RTFKT, states, “NFTs are all about collectibles, and so is the fashion world...Brands shouldn’t create NFTs because they have FOMO or want to be in the press. They need to consider their long-term vision and build towards the future” (VogueBusiness). NFTs are the fashion future—growing exponentially, breaking boundaries. Through rarity and value, NFTs reflect the modern-day renaissance of fashion.