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How ERC-6551 Will Change Digital Fashion
Is this the digital fashion "runway" we've all been waiting for?
The Naked Collector is the home of the latest news and deepest analyses of Web3 Fashion and Culture.
Some call the new ERC-6551 standard the biggest innovation in NFTs. Here’s how it’ll impact NFT-based digital fashion.
For a long time, I’ve been advocating the importance of avatars for fashion NFTs to thrive. If we look at Web3 as a cultural phenomenon, not just an added utility layer for Web2, it’s important we connect with others.
What will the avatars be for digital fashion, and do we need them? I think ERC-6551 takes an important step in the “avatarization” of digital fashion.
How Does ERC-6551 Play Into All of This?
ERC-6551 essentially allows your NFTs to own other NFTs and even wallets. Read this Twitter thread for a more in-depth explanation.
Its main features are:
Each NFT can have a wallet i.e. own other NFTs
Works with existing marketplaces and offers full custody
NFTs can directly interact with dApps (decentralized applications)
ERC-721 backward compatibility
Can hold ERC-721, ERC-20 and ERC-1155 tokens
These have important implications. Namely,
The Person Becomes the PFP
Social Media 2.0
The Person Becomes the PFP
While people have used NFTs as their identities on Twitter and Discord among other places for a while now, ERC-6551 shifts the user interaction from wallet-to-wallet to PFP-to-PFP (i.e. avatar-to-avatar). While the new standard is an important tech feat, it’s an even more important psychological shift. Interaction can start to look more akin to traditional social media platforms, and if/when we ever truly enter the metaverse, avatar-to-avatar interaction arguably makes more sense than wallet-to-wallet interactions.
Avatar-to-avatar communication and signaling expedite the culture formation around Web3 fashion.
As we can see from the data, PFPs, not metaverses like Decentraland or Sandbox, have had the best product-market fit for NFT fashion so far. While projects like Doodles are trying to create PFP fashion within a PFP project, I think a cross-project fashion ecosystem has the potential to bring more excitement to PFP/Web3 fashion.
(However, there is a possibility that Doodles becomes a self-sufficient fashion ecosystem with cross-project collaborations if it expands enough. However, Doodles would have to gain a critical mass of adoption to create such a vibrant ecosystem.)
Importantly, cross-community fashion would make significant strides for the culture in the Web3 fashion space. Because culture doesn’t live in a vacuum its crucial component is context, especially via comparison. For instance, for a luxury item to exist a sub-luxury item has to exist as well. This especially applies to the digital realm where materials aren’t as tangible and provenance is still emerging. This is why (like it or not) attention/demand/price are important determinants in what is perceived as a luxury NFT. For instance, the PROOF Collective membership pass had a much stronger aura of luxury at a 100 ETH floor price than at its current 6.7 ETH floor. For one, you could feel this in the way the collective was discussed in the crypto space. I’d also guess this had a dilutive effect (from a member wealth perspective) on the members of the collective as well. Price leads to attention.
In addition to price, some other important attention drivers in Web3 are observing what PFPs others are using, who is using them and the current metas or trends. By extension, ERC-6551 allows us to go one level deeper: what are these PFPs wearing?
I’ve written at length about how Web3 fashion still lacks a fundamental communication value. A PFP-driven fashion culture could expedite the formation of such communication value.
Some concrete effects ERC-6551 could have on Web3 Fashion:
In-house digital fashion creators (e.g. RTFKT Creators) will become more relevant. PFP communities will be able to compare who has the best signature collections and best digital fashion collaborations.
People will be able to compare closets intuitively. Think NFT analytics (e.g. # of blue chip and whale holders) meets social media. ERC-6551 would allow us to see how many e.g. Clone X or Azukis hold a digital fashion piece X or what pieces influencer Y’s PFP holds. Moreover, we’ll be able to see what the most expensive PFPs are “wearing”. This could be one way how new Web3 fashion “grails” come to be. The current lack of context is why there are still few, if any, Web3 Fashion grails (although a case could be made for Unisocks).
Individual curators will get a voice. Instead of the curation groups of today, individual collectors will gain prominence with PFPs as their unique identifiers. Because ERC-6551 enables the master NFT (the one holding other NFTs) to be sold with all its assets, a curator could sell ready-made fashion collections. One collection could be an urban style starter pack that features BAYC or Clone X as the PFP which holds a variety of Web3 street fashion. This could bring increased visibility and context to fashion by linking it to avatars, culture and aesthetics. After all, a) new entrants have no clue where to start when it comes to collecting NFTs, b) many of the Web3 fashion pieces released daily go under the radar because of the lack of curation.
It could affect the direction of the self-sufficient ecosystems many Web3 fashion houses are veering toward. It’ll be interesting to see how or if the PFP-centric ERC-6551 standard will affect these.
Social Media 2.0
So how exactly does ERC-6551 pave the way for a more intuitive interface to view digital fashion?
Currently, we view someone’s “closet“ via their general ( 0x…) wallet. This wallet also contains a multitude of other assets anywhere from membership passes and POAPs to real estate and documents in the future. This is a good place to store general NFTs, but an unintuitive place to store fashion. After all, the provenance of fashion is tied to its wearer e.g. “Marilyn Monroe’s dress” or “Michael Jordan’s first sneakers”.
In some ways, ERC-6551 enables a better curation mechanism than ENS domains. While you can already curate your desired fashion items into specified wallets, I believe the psychological implication of curating assets under one avatar is a big step forward.
The paradigm shift in the user interface is also tied to the novel ability to interact with dApps, including Web3 games, directly with avatars (e.g. PFPs) and provides a good groundwork for NFT-based virtual influencers. Moreover, ERC-6551 allows NFTs to hold social media profiles (e.g. Lens) profiles. As the PFP is transferred, so could the ownership of the associated social media profile.
ERC-6551 paves the way for an intuitive way to display PFP fashion. You could dress your PFP using clothes from the items that it owns aka its own inventory. Similar to the mechanics found in popular games such as Fortnite, RuneScape, and GTA.
The first NFT collection to implement ERC-6551, Stapleverse, is doing just this. The Stapleverse PFPs hold airdropped digital shirt NFTs. Once the PFPs reveal, the PFPs will be able to wear those shirts. You can see how the collection is displayed on OpenSea.
Finally, this ties in well with the PFP upgrade (point number 6) of my hypothetical Digital Fashion Marketplace 2.0.
The Downside of ERC-6551
The biggest downside of ERC-6551 is the same thing that makes it great – an NFT or PFP will be tied to the underlying assets. If you want to sell the master NFT without selling its underlying assets, you’ll have to transfer the underlying assets first.
Moreover, brands could make the first “master” NFT transferrable, but make the airdrops to that NFT soulbound. Thus, creating a bundle that the user can’t unbundle.
While this arguably restricts holder freedom, there are also some benefits to this approach. This would create a coherent bundle for a given asset that cannot be unbundled. Moreover, additional (e.g. earned) outfits would reflect in the price of the master NFT that the holder could then sell. This could be implemented in Web3 gaming. For instance, additional outfits (or other NFTs) held by the master NFT could increase its in-game avatar level.
A Step Toward a Web3 Closet
Finally, let’s zoom out a little bit. I can see digital fashion becoming a relatively mainstream narrative when AR (and eventually VR) tech improves. Things like IRL walk-by ads, in-store experiences and social media will be full of digital fashion. However, it’s not entirely clear that brands couldn’t experiment with AR activations without incorporating NFT technology. The standard argument is scarcity, authenticity and provenance. These aren’t bad arguments, but they only apply to a subsection of collectors. Moreover, traditional Web2 games (e.g. Fortnite) could come out with their competing non-NFT AR collections that are also digital collectibles.
So what’s the solution? I believe it to be a Web3-enabled closet for which the ERC-6551 token standard is a good starting point.
In addition to the avatarization and Social Media 2.0 concepts above, Web3 offers unique advantages. These include:
Composability in Web3 fashion essentially means the ability to combine and reuse different digital assets, smart contracts, and protocols to create new and unique fashion experiences.
Collateralization of high-value fashion NFTs when taking out a loan
Instant royalties to artists or artists (thanks to ERC721-C marketplaces can no longer set them to 0%)
Completion of outfit that unlocks access to another smart contract
Dynamic fashion that interacts with Web3 wallet content. Loyalty points = modular unlocks.
Proof of community
Seamless and instantaneous proof that you’re part of a community
More complex membership types than in traditional Web2 loyalty programs. For instance, cross-community benefits e.g. token-gated events organized by NFT community X, which are accessible by communities Y and Z. In fact, some Web2 brands are starting to experiment with cross-brand loyalty programs using Web3.
An evolving digital fashion closet. As discussed above, ERC-6551 could also be utilized for this.
This goes without saying. In addition to the “not your keys, not your assets” argument, if digital asset collateralization ever takes off in a big way (after all IP collateralized loans are becoming a thing) transferring collateral will be important. Thus, ownership untied to a single platform is crucial.
Finally, if we look outside the box for a minute, Web3 provides unique collective bidding and ownership infrastructure (see Constitution DAO, PartyBid and Syndicate) in ways that even the most tight-knit traditional Web2 communities don’t. A fashion-specific scenario could include Web3 communities buying up-and-coming or struggling fashion brands to grozw their fashion offering. Like Bernard Arnault’s legendary purchase of the bankrupt Boussac in 1985, maybe Web3 communities could eventually start buying brands – in a sort of private equity meets AngelList meets Kickstarter way. These projects already have the branding, marketing channels, technological know-how and community that they could utilize.
Let’s not forget that, DeGods bought an ownership stake in a BIG3 basketball team a year ago. While most acquisition processes are complex, we’ve seen innovative approaches in the real estate sector as well as the aforementioned BIG3 that are making Web3 ownership of real-world assets easier.
The bottom line is that the NFT digital collectibles narrative will prevail over non-NFT digital collectibles (e.g., in-game Fortnite skins) by demonstrating that non-NFT digital assets are, in fact, the right-click-save assets. Why limit yourself to collecting siloed assets with limited in-game utility when you could potentially utilize them in unlimited ways?
Web3 has to prove that it’s the iPod/iTunes to Web2’s compilation CDs and Spotify to Web2’s FM radio. A 0 to 1 innovation that opens the realm of possibilities.
ERC-6551 seems like the right step in this direction.
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