Original Penguin, which has its roots in the 1950s, has endured as one of the longer-lasting U.S. brands. Worn by everyone from Arnold Palmer to Frank Sinatra, the penguin-logoed brand has a legacy that many in the industry would envy. But now, the brand is transforming, following the pandemic and a growing interest in heritage brands among Gen Z. Launching on Wednesday, Original Penguin will be the first fashion brand to use TikTok content as an NFT, working directly with TikTokers to support their talents through a limited collection drop of their designs.
The drop will consist of eight NFT penguin avatars, with three designed by the brand and five designed by five TikTok influencers. They include dancer Ciara Christine, or @CiciStamper (508,000 followers), NYC photographer Andreas Verrios of @MrNYCSubway (1.7 million followers) artist Dayan Torres of @DayanTorresArt (123,000 followers), Gabriella Anouk (@GabriellaAnouk, 300,000 followers) and golf reviewer Andy Carter of @Carter.Golfs (39,000 followers). The brand approached these influencers for their links to sports, like dance or golf, to NYC culture, to diverse art or to TikTok crazes like slime.
Talking about the collaboration, Dayan Torres said, “My artwork displays a series of different portraits and expressions. It dives into the value of diversity and emotion through the range of appearances. This design is reminiscent of life, providing the beauty of living through the perspective of all individuals, cultivating the idea that our features distinguish us all while bringing us together and telling our unique story.”
The penguin statuettes will be displayed in a colorful Miami Beach setting, an ode to the company’s headquarters. Projected onto the surface of the penguins will be digital art and animated videos. The penguins will be available for purchase as TikTok video NFTs. The brand will be accepting both traditional currencies and Ethereum.
Jason Zuckerman, president of Original Penguin said, “Our designs are very fashion-forward. We do a lot of T-shirts that are very conversational in nature and fun. We believe that, as a creative fashion brand, working with a lot of these artists that happen to have a great following on TikTok was a natural marriage, and [we] support their creativity.” To get the word out, the creators will be promoting the content to their TikTok fans.
Consumers can visit OriginalPenguinNFT.com on their mobile device to enter the AR experience. No special equipment or apps are needed, as the experience was built to be seamless and easy to access. Interested bidders will receive a text message, prompting them to tap on the invitation link. That will take them to a landing page that allows them to explore the AR portal where the penguins will be displayed. Through a smartphone, guests can “walk” through the interactive space, as with an exhibition, and bid on their favorite lots.
The experience will reflect the exploratory nature of the TikTok app, with the creators posting behind-the-scenes videos of their NFT creation process. The proceeds of the returns from the auction will be donated to the brand’s nonprofit partner Free Arts NYC, which empowers underserved youth through arts and mentoring programs. Zuckerman sees this as the future of the brand. “I don’t believe it will be a one-off [collaboration]. These digital platforms, especially something like TikTok, are the future. A lot more commerce is going to be done on these platforms. We need these younger consumers to grow up with the brand and become fans,” he said.
The auction will launch on November 10 and go through November 23. Original Penguin joins high street brands like Axel Arigato and Hugo Boss, along with luxury brands like D&G, who have entered the NFT market.