CFDA Enters Web3 With Metaverse and NFT Partnership

Need help figuring out your place in the metaverse?

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is entering Web3 with its first metaverse and NFT partnership with creative consultancy 5Crypto, working alongside The Sandbox and Polygon Studios to establish a Web3 blueprint for American fashion in the metaverse.

The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, enables users to build their own virtual and gamified worlds using a decentralized platform while Polygon Studios is a blockchain arm dedicated to large-scale and energy efficient NFT projects.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for the CFDA to guide the American fashion industry into the future of commerce and creativity,” said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA. “Our mission is to position our members as leaders in the global innovation of fashion and retail via digitally led strategies to support growth and expansion.”

The Sandbox was cofounded by Sebastien Borget and Arthur Madrid and has previously collaborated with Snoop Dogg, Gucci and Adidas. The initiative also leverages the expertise of Polygon Studios, the NFT and gaming arm of Ethereum layer-2-scaling protocol Polygon. Polygon Studios already works with the majority of today’s top Web3 games and NFT projects and has helped luxury brands enter Web3, such as Bulgari, Prada, Adidas, and Dolce & Gabbana.

The new partnership looks to bring America’s design talent into virtual spaces to introduce Web3 to a larger consumer segment, and provide brands with insights that will allow them to engage and empower these communities, while establishing new revenue streams. The partnership will offer members professional development and educational resources, allowing them to gain insights and cultivate opportunities for their businesses.

There’s no question that virtual worlds have become an important channel to connect with the next generation of consumers, the majority of whom spend significant time in the virtual world. The partners believe that fashion brands need to get educated and figure out their individual strategies and where the opportunities lie.

As reported, several fashion brands participated in the first Metaverse Fashion Week March 23 to March 27 in Decentraland, a blockchain-based 3D virtual world. Among the brands that got involved were Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, Etro, Selfridges and Dolce & Gabbana, participating in runway shows, brand activations, interactive experiences and shopping opportunities (to varying degrees of success) across multiple digital storefronts showcasing wearables for avatars, NFTs and artworks and more.

In the luxury sector specifically, KPMG predicts tremendous growth opportunities, citing industry analysts who predict the growing demand for luxury goods in the metaverse could reach $50 billion by 2030, as reported last week. The KPMG report estimated that in the next five years, 70 percent of brands will have a presence in the metaverse. Brands are establishing virtual stores, virtual try-on rooms, creating digital assets such as NFTs and other collectibles, offering private and hybrid shopping events and other experiences. They’re also collaborating with gaming platforms, buying digital real estate, setting up shops and building brand communities on various open platforms.

According to The Sandbox’s Madrid, “We believe the metaverse is the new frontier of expression, where avatars will be an extension of our digital identity. We are excited to offer new creative tools for fashion designers to create NFT collections with digital ownership and scarcity that will be playable in the metaverse.”

Ryan Wyatt, CEO of Polygon Studios added, “The CFDA’s transition to Web3 is essential in creating a framework for digital creatives and securing the future of American fashion and culture. Polygon and Polygon Studios are immensely proud to be playing a role in this shift.”

Discussing the global opportunities of this partnership, Kolb explained, “One of the beauties of Web3 is that it is truly a global industry; our partner The Sandbox is an international company. The possibilities to collaborate and grow with partners from around the world are endless within the metaverse. They are ‘metaversal’ and allow brands to go beyond borders. The U.S. is leading and excelling in adoption and consumer engagement, causing rapid-fire growth in the industry.”

For a company which hasn’t dipped its toes into the metaverse yet, Kolb offered this advice. “The purpose of the partnership is to give them a blueprint and a 101 plan on actually how to do that. Two things members need to know: How do you actually enter into the metaverse and what actually happens once you’re in it?”  He said through 5Crypto, Sandbox and Polygon Studios, they will take members step by step, and tell them what the metaverse actually is and what should they do. He said there are opportunities for customer engagement, brand building and loyalty programs.

“This is really a democratic, even playing fields for all of our members, small, medium and large to take advantage of the opportunity. I believe we’re really the first fashion organization to bring this opportunity to designers,” said Kolb.

Can he foresee New York Fashion Week taking place in the metaverse?

“To the extent that someone wants to have a metaverse fashion show, that’s a possibility. We organize and bring the power of American designers together through our work, so there’s a lot of opportunities and having a fashion show is certainly one of those opportunities. I don’t think a metaverse fashion show is necessarily the future of our business and will replace a real-life fashion show. It’s just another marketing tool to engage with customers,” said Kolb.

This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com. Read the full story on WWD.com.

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