Will a virtual hoodie open a Gap for enterprise-use NFTs?
Fashion brand Gap is attempting to open non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to the mass market by collaborating with a digital artist and giving its customers the opportunity to own a limited-edition collectible hoodie.
NFTs are unique digital assets that can be bought and sold over the internet. The tokens – which can fluctuate in value – are designed to show that someone has ownership of a unique virtual item, such as online pictures and videos, or trading cards.
The crypto token’s popularity in the artworld has increased in recent years, with NFT works by digital artists like Mike ‘Beeple’ Winkelmann making headlines for record-breaking sales.
For customers seeking a unique version of its iconic hoodies, Gap is collaborating with Brandon Sines, an artist already trading in NFTs and the creator of popular New York digital character Frank Ape.
The clothing retailer’s NFTs opportunity comes in the form of a series of digital hoodie art available to purchase on the retailer’s website with Gap is taking a tiered approach to its sales which range from ‘Common,’ ‘Rare’ ‘Epic’ and ‘One of a Kind’.
By ‘gamifying’ the experience, Gap hopes that it will encourage customers to collect Gap hoodie digital art at the ‘Common’ and ‘Rare’ levels to unlock the opportunity to purchase the ‘Epic’ – a limited edition digital art by Brandon Sines and a physical Gap x Frank Ape by Sines hoodie.
John Strain, chief digital and technology officer at Gap said in a statement that the retailer hoped through this new venture that it would learn more about how its customers want to engage in a digitally led world.
Since Facebook announced that it was changing its company name to Meta, last October, more retailers have been looking at how they might fit into the metaverse – the next iteration of social media comprising of a virtual world where people can interact digitally.
CNBC reported yesterday that US retail giant Walmart is also gearing up to enter the metaverse and has filed several trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark office that involve creating its own cryptocurrency and collection of NFTs.
Other retailers such as Adidas, Nike and Macy’s have experimented with NFTs in recent months while explorations into the asset are set to expand in 2022, according to the blockchain experts we spoke to as part of our recent annual prediction series, 2022Informed.
Ethan McMahon, an economist at Chainalysis, believes that each collection launch from a large traditional retailer lays a potential framework for other businesses to follow.
“Some business’ wildly popular launches – like the recent Adidas NFT collection that sold out in minutes – will certainly draw other businesses into the space,” he said.
“As more and more businesses experiment with NFTs, this will only serve to drive further interest in digital assets and we’ll see continued innovation in this space,” he added.
In terms of verticals beyond retail looking to move into the NFTs space, McMahon suggested that gaming and advertising were “two traditional industries that could capitalize most with the adoption of NFTs,” he added.
Whether this NFTs activity will expand beyond retail and digital image-based industries, however, is a moot point – although the patenting of IP is key with firms such as Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch all filing trademarks that detail their intent to open some form of virtual store.
Not surprisingly then, many B2B uses so far have focussed on intellectual property and patents – and include IBM’s partnership with intellectual property specialist IPwe – announced last June – which sees the companies aim to unlock $1 trillion or more in patents and other intellectual assets through turning them into NFTs.
“The tokenization of intellectual property (IP) will help position patents to be more easily sold, traded, commercialized or otherwise monetized and bring new liquidity to this asset class for investors and innovators,” the companies said in a joint release.
To date however, NFTs have had B2C and D2C use-cases which McMahon thinks will continue this year. “This trend will likely persist even as traditional enterprises enter the space. We’ll likely see novel B2B use-cases appear, but they won’t outpace their B2C and D2C uses soon,” he said.
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