Crypto Fashion: Why People Are Paying Real Money for Virtual Clothes

LONDON (Reuters) – People are interested in what their avatars wear.

When virtual world Decentraland said in June that users could make and sell their own clothes for an avatar to wear on the site, Hiroto Kai stayed up all night designing Japanese-inspired outfits.

He said he sold the kimonos for about $140 each, and said he made between $15,000 and $20,000 in just three weeks.

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While the idea of ​​spending real money on clothes that don’t exist physically is confusing to many, virtual properties generate real sales in the “metaverse” – online environments where people can gather, roam, meet friends and play games.

The digital artist and real name of Kai Enthusiast for Japan is Noah. He is 23 years old and lives in New Hampshire.

After making in those three weeks what he earns in a year at his job at the music store, he quit to become a full-time designer.

“It just took off,” Kay said.

“It was a new way of expressing yourself and it’s a walking art, that’s the great thing about it…When you have a piece of clothing in it, you can go to a party in it, you can dance in it, you can show off and it’s a status symbol.”

In Decentraland, avatar clothing – known as “wearables” – can be bought and sold on the blockchain in the form of a crypto-asset called a non-fungible token (NFT).

The kai kimono includes gorgeous pieces of crushed blue velvet with golden dragon edges.

NFTs exploded in popularity earlier this year, as speculators and crypto enthusiasts flocked to buy the new type of asset, which represents ownership of online-only items like digital art, trading cards, and land in online realms.

Niche crypto assets are also attracting the attention of some of the world’s largest fashion companies, who are keen to associate themselves with a new generation of players – even though most of their forays so far are dedicated to marketing.

LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton (LVMH.PA) has launched a metaverse game where players can collect NFTs, and Burberry (BRBY.L) has created NFT-branded accessories for Blankos Block Party, a game owned by Mythical Games. Gucci (PRTP.PA) has sold non-NFT outfits for in-game avatars in Roblox.

“Your avatar represents you,” Imani McEwan, a Miami model and NFT enthusiast, told NFT. “What you wear is what makes you who you are.”

McEwan believes he has spent $15,000 to $16,000 on 70 NFT wearables since January, using profits from cryptocurrency investments. His first purchase was a Bitcoin-inspired jacket and he recently bought a black beret designed by his friend.

A virtual sneaker made by digital fashion company RTFKT in collaboration with Box A16z is featured in this rendering obtained by Reuters on August 10, 2021. RTFKT INC/Handout via REUTERS This image was provided by a third party. Compulsory credit. There are no reviews. not archive.

Self Shopping

It is difficult to quantify the total size of the NFT wearables market. Decentraland’s wearable sales alone totaled $750,000 in the first half of 2021, up from $267,000 in the same period last year, according to, a website that tracks the NFT market.

Some proponents say that wearables and in-store shopping could be the future of retail.

“Instead of scrolling through feeds and shopping online, you can get a more immersive brand experience by exploring a virtual space — whether you’re shopping for your avatar online or buying physical products that can be shipped to your door,” said Julia Schwartz, Director Republic Realm, a $10 million virtual real estate investment vehicle that built a shopping mall in Decentraland.

For NFT fans, online fashion doesn’t replace physical purchases.

But Paula Selo and Alisa Olbekova, founders of digital fashion startup Auroboros, say it could be an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion.

Customers can submit a photo of themselves to Auroboros and digitally add the clothes for £60 ($83) to £1,000.

Silo argued that the concept of virtual clothing could reduce waste for consumers buying clothes to wear on social media, citing a 2018 Barclaycard study that found 9% of British shoppers had bought clothes for pictures on social media, and then returned them.

“We need a change now in fashion,” Silo said. “The industry simply can’t go on.”

Virtual sneaker company RTFKT sells limited edition NFTs that are sneakers that can be “wearable” in some virtual world or on social media via a Snapchat filter.

“It really took off when COVID started and a lot of people took to the internet,” said Stephen Vasiliev, co-founder and CEO of RTFKT.

He said the company posted sales of $7 million, with limited-edition sneakers selling at auctions for $10,000 to $60,000. While the majority of clients are in their twenties and thirties, some are as young as 15.

RTFKT’s NFTs can also be used as a token for a free physical copy of the boot, but 1 in 20 customers do not redeem this token.

“I didn’t do the redemption stuff because I couldn’t be bothered,” said Jim McNelis, a Dallas-based NFT buyer who founded NFT, nft42.

“I try to avoid physical things as much as possible.”

(dollar = 0.7241 pounds)

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(Reporting by Elizabeth Hawcroft; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and

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