Fashion, in all fields, has gone through a numerical calculation; from supply chain tracking to fashion design, most areas are now working with a new level of digital integration. One of the oldest professions in the field is fashion illustration, which now encompasses NFTs. Realizing that digital one-offs have better engagement and higher profits, many artists have shifted from focusing on limited-edition prints to creating entire digital collections.
The evolution towards transforming fashion illustrations into NFTs began with the French Federation of Fashion and Haute Couture, which is behind the famous Couture Week in Paris. In June 2020, he worked with the fashion and luxury NFT platform Arianee to offer exclusive NFTs to guests of the designer lounge. NFTs acted like tokens that could be exchanged for a piece of digital art of a figure walking in front of a French flag by fashion illustrator Richard Haines, who has previously worked with Prada and Calvin Klein. Talia Zoref, an Israeli fashion illustrator in the NFT space, has also had success making her illustrations into NFT collectibles. She sold 8,888 NFT artworks in two minutes.
Jamie Lee Reardin, a fashion illustrator and NFT artist who has previously worked with Prada, Dior Beauty and Nike, said the illustration is a unique offering for the NFT space that is mostly made up of avatar-based illustrations. “Many artists use traditional mediums like paint. I use gouache, and all my work is done by hand. It adds a richness to the artwork, which is something different that some collectors will appreciate,” Reardin told Glossy. Reardin’s next collection, titled Celestial Bodies MMIX, mixes crypto history with fashion and zodiac signs and will be released on March 20.
Other fashion illustrator proposals tap into the power of the community, with artists launching decentralized self-governing organizations to decide how projects move forward. One such project is Collab Bears, a new NFT program launched with bear-focused artwork by Audrey Schilt. Schilt is a 45-year-old fashion industry veteran who worked at Halston and Bergdorf Goodman. She was also creative director at Ralph Lauren for more than 20 years and was the first to suggest the now-iconic Polo Bear mascot for the brand. Speaking of the NFT bears, Schilt said, “It’s a very eclectic collection, but it still retains a certain dignity and luxury feel. That’s how it started, and I’m progressing with the help of my friends to navigate the metaverse.
With the first tokens minted in March, the bear artwork marks the start of NFT collaborations with figures in fashion, sports and music. Schilt works with two co-founders: his son Matthew Schilt, a longtime A&R in the music industry, and technology and finance expert David Borish.
“We have five, maybe six, really big collaborations [coming up with] companies that already have a history with Audrey,” said Matthew Schilt. “We have outfits and background art curated by well-known artists in the field of street art and traditional art. We are also working on [collaborations] with other influencers from the world of style and design.
Audrey and Matthew Schilt have both previously worked with Kanye West, with Audrey being part of the team at Ye’s former fashion label, Dw (Donda West). Matthew has also worked with rapper Talib Kweli and Polo collector and producer 88 Keys.
The DAO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization, which will form the basis of community governance will be open to those who own an NFT bear, with one voting token per NFT held. The “Early Bear List,” open from March 30, will offer early access to NFTs to 2,500 Discord members for 0.1 ETH ($256).
The Collab Bears Discord channel launched in mid-February already has more than 3,000 members. “Our social networks are building quite quickly. We’re thrilled that everyone is receptive to the art,” said Matthew Schilt. Sneak peeks of the bear outfits revealed a hoodie and trench coat combo, tees, and a tracksuit. While each of the outfits are hand-drawn by Audrey Schilt, for now the DAO will decide what the next iteration will be as Collab Bears is planning a blockchain-based entry into the game. The open sale will start on April 1 and will be limited to 7,500 members who can buy their NFTs at 0.1 eth ($256) each.