What the future of the fashion industry looks like

With the beginning of London Fashion Week 2022, what better time to explore the future of the fashion industry. There are few success stories as prevalent as the rise of the NFT (non-fungible tokens), and it’s this tech trend that is set to be the next big influence on the merchandise industry. 

Whilst NFTs originated on screen, they are becoming a physical asset too, searches for ‘can you print an NFT’ has increased by 600% in the last six months. But how will this crypto-trend translate into business for smaller brands and what does the future of NFTs look like in the industry? 

Alex Econs, founder of London t-shirt printing company, ICON Printing, answers some of the most pressing questions about NFTs and the effect that they will have on the fashion and merchandise industry. 

Alex said: “The fashion industry is one of constant evolution - either brands move with the times or they are left behind and people are taking digital ownership of their art. NFTs are the latest development in the fast moving digital age, they’re a natural progression from what's come before.

“The fashion and merchandise industry has been known to be unfairly weighted towards big brands - with creators and designers only seeing a fraction of the profits of their effort. NFTs can help these people get the credit (and money) they deserve.”

NFTs and big brand collaborations

Alex added: “Big fashion brands like Balenciaga and RTFKT have been ahead of the curve in exploring NFTs with virtual clothing drops and a move to accepting crypto as currency.

“As the demand for NFTs grows, we should expect to see more adoption of NFTs within the luxury fashion and designer clothing sector. The paradigm shift is occurring quickly and 2022 will be the year when it begins to snowball - expect to see digital-only clothing going at prices similar to limited edition sneakers and hats in the near future.” 

NFTs and smaller, independent businesses

Alex said: “As creators adopt new digital art forms such as NFTs, we expect these and small independent businesses to begin to work more with NFTs in the coming months and years as the trend trickles down from big brand collaborations.

“At ICON Printing, we’ve already seen clients express interest in using NFTs to promote their brand - one savvy client has been considering printing an NFT on a t-shirt. It’s clear that even smaller companies and brands are excited by NFTs; they want to see where it will take the industry - and independent businesses that take full advantage of this will benefit by being the trend setters rather than followers. With artworks like “Everydays: the First 5000 Days” by Beeple selling for $69.3m, it’s not hard to see why it’s a lucrative market.”

NFTs in merchandise and marketing

Alex commented: “Over the past few years, we’ve continued to see businesses take control of their merchandise through collaborations, one off ‘novelty’ items and reoccurring merch. Done right, promotional merch transforms customers into brand ambassadors who will wear your logo, slogan or mission statement with pride. NFTs are the next step in brand marketing - they will allow fans to purchase exclusive merchandise digitally that will work to organically promote the brand. 

“Already we have been approached by creators working with companies with great ideas on how to incorporate NFTs into printed clothing and it’s been quite interesting to see the range of approaches and how this translates into garment printing for us.

“For now, it is very much the early adopters exploring the terrain and how NFTs translate into printed garments like t-shirts and bags - they are the thought leaders that hope to benefit by taking a risk. It has been very interesting consulting and working with these creatives who are looking to create something totally unique that also has a presence in the NFT world and we are excited to see what the future holds with this next step in creative design.”