Building a Fashion House on Web3
A fashion house that empowers designers and a DAO where its members collectively provide artistic direction. Founder of London fashion startup _altr Jessie Fu shares her vision of how the studio wants to use web3 for the benefit of the creators.
You’re claiming you’re building a digital-first fashion house owned by creators. How will this actually work?
– altr_ is made up of a family of digital-first fashion brands, each on equal footing, defined by their own identity, but imbued with the altr_ values. This includes our pioneering brand, altr_native, which serves as our primary vehicle to experiment and convey our values as a community. altr_ is also a platform, where creators can access tools to develop and upgrade utility for their users; a marketplace, where creators and collectors can buy and sell fashion NFTs, an infrastructure to support the next generation of designers, including via incubation; and finally, a DAO, whose members jointly participate in the value generated by the fashion house and provide artistic direction over the development of its brands.
A lot of people are right now building NFT marketplaces and even digital fashion marketplaces online. How is altr_ going to be different?
– altr_ is committed to build the infrastructure for the next generation of fashion designers, who will probably start their fashion endeavors in the digital realm before any physical productions. To do so, our goal is to create an ecosystem to empower creators. A curated marketplace is part of the infrastructure where users can collect the digital garments, but before any of the wearables reach the marketplace, we are focused first and foremost on the tooling to make it incredibly easy for digital fashion designers to go from idea to listed product. Moreover, we need to build out an amazing experience for the end consumer, providing them a place to exhibit their wares and utilize them, in order to make this an attractive offering for the creators.
What are the hardest parts of building a web3 fashion house compared to just a digital one?
– The major difference between digital fashion and web3 digital fashion is ownership, where the creator will have ownership over the design and the users will have ownership over the digital asset across multiple platforms. What makes this possible is that NFTs are issued on decentralized, cryptographically secure ledgers. However, that introduces a lot of complexity and UX friction, as these tools are still developing. As a result, we need to spend a lot of time making sure to educate our users on Web3 and build out a user flow that eliminates these new points of friction.
Where do you see the biggest business opportunities for independent fashion creators right now in this space?
– Digital fashion is more accessible, both for creators designing wearables, as well as for consumers using and collecting them. It also reduces the limits to a designer’s creativity. In traditional fashion, a significant part of high fashion comes in the form of experiments. Couture involves the creation of exclusive, custom-fitted, high-end fashion design that is constructed by hand from start to finish. Designers use only the best materials and are free to create unique pieces that inspire us and push the boundaries of our imagination. Digital fashion creates a much wider canvas for pushing innovation and creativity — one where the physical and financial constraints of the real world cease to apply. On the flip side, couture prices out the majority of consumers, whereas digital fashion can provide a more accessible alternative for them to enjoy the beauty of fashion.
– Relatedly, digital fashion is also about changing the economic model for creators, providing a more direct mechanism for rewarding and incentivizing them, both on the primary, as well as secondary market. By using NFTs as the primary distribution mechanism for digital fashion, creators can remove intermediaries between them and their audience and embed royalties directly into the goods sold.
For most people, blockchain technology and NFT:s are something new and unknown, and for others, it’s an emotionally charged topic. How can people learn more about it? Can you recommend a good way to get started?
– altr_ is providing educational content to help onboard digital fashion designers. We also recommend learning by doing! Through platforms like OpenSea, it’s quite cheap and easy to buy or mint an NFT. On the other hand, we strongly believe that in parallel to educating creators about the technology, we should be giving them tools and empowering them to focus on their creativity.
What things are you most looking forward to in 2022?
– We’re looking forward to seeing more up-and-coming designers enter the space and more projects continue to innovate. There is still a lot of tech to be built to fully bring about the vision we have for digital fashion. It’s super exciting for us when we think about how early we are in this industry, and how much room there is for people to make an impact.