Buy-now-pay-later is not typically associated with NFTs, but for this coming NYFW, BNPL provider Afterpay is partnering with featured brands to create custom-made designer “Keys to NYFW” NFTs. The brands include some that have previously launched NFTs, including Joseph Altuzarra’s Altu and Jonathan Simkhai, as well as AnOnlyChild, Kim Shui and The Blonds. The unique NFT keys allow customers to unlock access to one-off Fashion Week experiences and exclusive products, growing the use case for NFTs as membership access. Afterpay was named the presenting sponsor for NYFW in May last year in a multi-year deal aimed at making the event more democratized.
The designer NFTs were made available to purchase starting on Tuesday on Keys.NYFW.com, with the option for buyers to pay in four interest-free installments via either Afterpay, Ethereum or a credit card through the Polygon blockchain platform. They were promoted through the NYFW’s official social media channels. Each designer is offering 25 keys at $100 each. Afterpay is also offering 250 free NFTs, providing access to backstage footage from NYFW on the same website. All of the proceeds from the designers’ NFTs will be donated to the Free Arts NYC non-profit that brings art and mentoring programs to children in New York City’s underserved communities.
For BNPL services like Afterpay, competition is heating up in the NFT space. Web3 startup Halliday raised $6 million in new seed funding for its gaming platform in early August. The round was led by Andreesen Horowitz’s a16z and meant to fund the addition of a BNPL option for in-game purchases.
Buyers of the “Keys to NYFW” NFTs can choose from two utility benefits: either an experience chosen by the brand or a limited-edition designer product that is only available to the NFT holders. For example, Altu’s NFTs unlock either a leather tote and oversized tees by Altu by Joseph Altuzarra or an annual membership to one of New York City’s art museums including MoMA. The Blonds’ NFT gives access to the brand’s NYFW after party or a signed copy of the designers’ new book, “The Blonds: Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy.” For the Jonathan Simkhai NFT, holders can enjoy a private meet-and-greet shopping experience with the designer or receive signed runway sketches from the new collection. The Kim Shui NFT gives access to the brand’s NYFW show or a custom dragon design hoodie.
“The possibilities are now endless. Creating in the NFT space is amazing because there are no limits on imagination. Designers will also have the opportunity to reach a new audience, as well as offer a fresh perspective on their brand,” said David Blond.
Jonathan Simkhai launched his first collection of NFTs in February, in time for fall 2022 Fashion Week, telling Glossy that the brand needed to be nimble and adapt to “putting technology at the forefront.” Now, the focus for Simkhai and the rest of the designers is on providing accessibility through Afterpay, lowering the barrier to entry for fashion NFT customers.
As previous Fashion Week NFTs didn’t come with a long-term road plan, this option opens up a new form of utility. “I just bought the New York Fashion Week NFTs,” said Cathy Hackl. “You get to keep the digital collectible, but only the first buyer can claim the utility for experiences like the runway show. However, as a customer, I understand that when I’m buying it, so the idea of short-term and long-term utility is evolving.” Currently, the Kim Shui show NFT is already sold out on the site.
For Maxwell Osborne, founder of AnOnlyChild and co-founder of Public School, the NFTs present an opportunity for wider access. The brand’s NFT gives users either access to its Fashion Week afterparty or a limited edition belt bag. “We are always in favor of new technologies that break down barriers of entry and allow for a more democratic and imaginative access to luxury goods,” said Osborne. “Brands are reflected in a growing number of touch points, both tangible and intangible, and it behooves us all to think about luxury in a more holistic way.”
“Any Fashion Week is normally a very walled garden. Now, someone can buy a ticket to that fashion show for $100,” added Hackl. “Normally, that’s not what happens; you have to get invited or know someone. This does democratize access.”
In February, Altuzarra and Markarian launched their first NFT’s at the fall 2022 shows. Jason Wu released an NFT replica of Michelle Obama’s 2009 inaugural ball gown that came with backstage access to the show and a meet-and-greet with the designer. At the same time, Rebecca Minkoff put out another NFT capsule collection that provided experiential benefits, including two tickets to the shows.