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Champion Launches 2021 Spring Collection in New Digital and NFT Format

The traditional fashion calendar has experienced disruption in recent years, as an increasing number of brands and designers choose to showcase collections on their own timeline. Now, it’s the format of the collections that might be changing. Today, Champion Athleticwear announced that it would be dropping its Spring 2021 Collection in digital form, through its ongoing partnership with Tafi.

As part of this launch, consumers will be able to engage with Champion’s digital products in several ways. Tafi, a creator of custom 3D content for avatar and emoji systems, has worked with the brand and with Samsung to create exclusive Samsung AR Emoji content that enables Champion fans to dress their avatars in digital Champion apparel and accessories. These avatars can also be used within gaming experiences, through the AR Emoji SDK.

In addition to the Samsung content, a limited number of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) will be available. Champion has minted several digital artworks and limited-edition Avatars inspired by the recent collection, in numbers of 40, 50 and 100. These NFTs will be available for $15-25. There will also be several single version NFTs that will be auctioned off, which also grant the buyer a one-of-a-kind Champion hoodie with that graphic printed on it.

“Our eco-system is designed for avatar items to move between worlds and environments, so two items in the NFT collection are inspired by our avatar wearables for Samsung,” said Ty Duperron, COO at Tafi. “Since our work is built around digital art, and NFTs are all about celebrating the digital art world, we took a different approach for the other pieces and mixed old school digital art technologies like pixel art from old video games to one that works with red and blue 3D glasses.

Four sample avatars made by Tafi for online use
Tafi produces avatars that can be customized and used across the digital world.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tafi

This shift into digital assets is part of a broader industry trend towards virtual goods. These items can be sold at much lower price points than their physical counterparts, which allow for a more accessible entry point into a brand; luxury has embraced this as a way to connect with younger consumers. They can also be used across the internet, allowing consumers to showcase their brand loyalty in the digital world as well as the physical world.

The emergence of NFTs then provides the opposite end of the spectrum: exclusivity. While the market is still understanding the full applications available, NFTs have quickly become a desirable good and a way to demonstrate true commitment to a brand or icon. Through their storage in blockchain, these assets become fixed identities that can’t be copied, making them more valuable to collectors.

“Samsung AR Emoji allows users to access their favorite brands quickly and easily, but NFTs allow for a more exclusive ownership of the asset,” said Duperron. “In AR Emoji you can essentially buy a “license” to use the content inside the AR Emoji ecosystem, but there is no ownership. The NFTs are owned by the buyer and this allows them to own something more exclusive (there are only 50 for example) – the same reason people are interested in say a Hermes bag or rare trading card.”

Despite recent public discourse, this launch is still one of the earliest examples of fashion’s adoption of the digital format, positioning Champion at the forefront of innovation. In the coming months, it is likely that many brands will explore the opportunities that come with NFTs but currently there are minimal designers who are producing and selling their own digital tokens.

“Champion has always made it a goal of theirs to be innovative and create new touch points for their fans,” said Duperron. “Champion’s tone and attitude aligns well with the space and they are very supportive of different art styles and concepts so it was the perfect extension of their brand. We were excited to help them be one of the first movers in this space.”

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