What Steph Curry’s Sneaker NFTs Can Teach Fashion – WWD

Basketball legend Stephen “Steph” Curry followed a record game last week by breaking new ground for digital fashion, thanks to a clever NFT sneaker strategy that raised nearly $ 1 million.

The famed Golden State Warrior guard has reached a new level, scoring the most three-point shots in NBA history. Curry and brand partner Under Armor commemorated the moment by releasing virtual versions of the Curry Flow 9 sneakers he wore during the historic 2,974th snap.

The sales figure may seem modest compared to the millions raked in from other virtual goods this year. But the pricing approach was a feature, not a bug, as part of a notable campaign for the fashion industry. It is one of the first case studies of how strategic thinking of a large brand can move NFTs from a trendy bubble to smart business, thanks to a combination of technology, timing and understanding of the primary audience.

The example comes at a pivotal time for the industry as brands compete to understand virtual products and their long-term potential.

Curry Flow 9 NFTs reveal a deep understanding of the meaning of technology to fan communities. Although authentication for real-world collectibles is an industry in its own right, there was no reliable mechanism for digital assets. Enter NFT. The blockchain transforms proof of ownership and authenticity into virtual products, practically guaranteeing legitimacy, value and, of course, bragging rights.

This allowed Curry and Under Armor to turn a cultural moment into sales revenue and at a speed impossible to replicate with physical goods. Even though Curry Flow footwear exists as real-world products, increasing production to produce more units and distribute them can take time. Meanwhile, the digital doppelgängers were created, promoted and sold in less than a week.

There’s also a silver lining here: the proceeds benefit organizations dedicated to youth access to sport, a major cause for both Curry and Under Armor.

Other details drew on the excitement for the basketball event that made history, with 2,974 pairs of virtual kicks minted and priced at $ 333 each – he nods to the total three-point number Curry has made during his career. Given the extremely limited nature of previous fashion NFTs, the availability of nearly 3,000 units seemed decidedly generous, while the cost wouldn’t have given sneakerheads any reason to stop. They often pay that much or more for limited edition physical products that they end up on a shelf, trophy case, or kept like new in their boxes.

Conversely, owners of the virtual Curry Flow 9 can show them on several metaverse platforms, including Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Gala Games, with players of the latter’s Town Star title able to use them to earn in-game rewards. This cross-platform usability stands out, as most high-profile NFTs are single-platform only. It could be a hint of what’s to come, with NFTs spreading across different virtual worlds.

For many months, skeptics have called the tech phenomenon a bubble destined to burst. The jaw-dropping sales of exclusive digital products seemed exciting, but unsustainable in the long run, while it wasn’t clear what people could do with them once they owned them. The buzz around virtual worlds and metaverses, as well as the trade that might drive them, offers NFTs more context and, perhaps, viability.

But it will take smart strategies and real-world consumer insights to power virtual products beyond the bubble and make them more fundamental. Fashion now has an example to study.

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