The French luxury fashion house Balmain just launched its most recent Web3 initiative — a series of limited NFT sneakers based on its Unicorn footwear line linked to real-world shoes.
The NFT collection is called the “Unicorn Phygital Wearable Collection” and consists of 130 Unicorn sneaker NFTs linked to their matching real-life counterparts. There are five unique sneaker designs that cost between $1,595 and $2,095 per sneaker — payable in fiat or ETH.
Besides the rare physical sneakers, Balmain Unicorn NFT holders will get addition rewards and perks such as access to exclusive products, future NFT drops, and digital wearables that can be used in online metaverses and games.
The Ethereum-based NFTs were created in collaboration with Space Runners, a digital fashion company backed by Animoca Brands, Polychain, Pantera, and other investors.
Balmain Chief Marketing Officer Txampi Diz said that as the “physical and digital continue to merge,” Balmain will be at the forefront of the movement and introduce its historic house to a new audience. But the project is also about onboarding Web3-hesitant clients to the space.
Rohan Chhabra, Space Runners creative director, said the physical aspect of the NFT drop is necessary to “get Web3 customers and Web 2.5 customers — our biggest potential customer base — into this space.” This limited-edition drop of digital and IRL shoes is one way Space Runners and Balmain hope to get them onboard.
Chhabra added that he believes digital wearables will come to dominate digital fashion, but that the metaverse is still some time off and needs to improve. And while many leading luxury brands have targeted Web3 savvy audiences, Chhabra wants to meet costumers where they currently are and make offerings “more casual,” “approachable,” and “accessible.”
Balmain’s Unicorn NFTs will also to be compatible with Space Runners’ closed-loop gaming, fashion, and commerce metaverse planned to launch later this year.
Brands Drop NFTs Linked to IRL Products
Balmain’s limited edition NFT drop tied to physical sneakers is exciting for fans of the luxury fashion house. But Balmain is far from the only company linking digital NFTs to physical products. At Rarity Sniper, we’ve covered dozens of similar stories in Web3. Here are some of the most recent drops.
First, in February, one of Japan’s leading footwear brands, Mizuno, dropped a limited-edition NFT collection on OpenSea. The digital artwork NFTs are linked to real-life footwear. There are a total of 19 NFTs divided into a three categories — judo, soccer, and football.
Next, about a month ago, the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami collaborated with Hublot for an exclusive collection of 13 unique physical watches paired to 13 NFTs. The watches were inspired by 1970’s video games and TV shows and feature Murakami’s smiling flower motif.
Finally, in November, ASICS sportswear company partnered with STEPN, a move-to-earn app, and the launch of a Solana-inspired shoe. The “GT-2000 11” IRL shoes were only available for four days and came with token-gated experiences and a future airdrop of an ASICS x STEPN NFT.
Tying NFT technology to exclusive physical products is becoming more popular across several sectors, not least of which is luxury fashion. It will take some time to see if the Unicorn Phygital Wearable Collection is popular, but one thing is certain: Balmain is bullish on Web3.