This S’pore Startup Is The Cyber Fashion Brand Making Clothes Digital – But Is It The Future?

Republiqe

A Singapore investor recently made waves in the art world when he spent a record-breaking US$69 million (S$93 million) worth of cryptocurrency on a digital art piece.

The piece was sold in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), which is an unique cryptographic token that exist on the Ethereum blockchain. However, since each NFT is unique, they cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency. Therefore, the digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets.

Each NFT has a unique identification code and metadata that distinguishes one from another, which differs from other forms of currencies. For example, one Bitcoin is always equal in value to another Bitcoin. Similarly, a single unit of Ether is always equal to another unit.

However, since each NFT is unique, they cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency. Therefore, the digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets.

Anyone can “tokenise” their work to sell as an NFT and an interest to do so has been fuelled by million-dollar sales hitting the headlines recently. For example, an animated Gif of Nyan Cat — a 2011 meme of a flying pop-tart cat — has been sold for more than US$500,000.

non-fungible tokens
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Music can also be sold as NFTs. American rock band Kings of Leon has made over S$2.6 million in album sales so far, and The Weeknd’s new song will also be released as an NFT.

It’s not just art that can be sold. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has listed his first ever tweet for sale, with bids reaching US$2.5 million (S$3.9 million).

Most recently, digital clothing has been making waves in the NFT space, as something that consumers can purchase as well.

A New Frontier In The Fashion Industry

Republiqe Digital Fashion
Screenshot from Republiqe

According to digital fashion startup Republiqe, its digital clothing allows consumers to “look amazing without leaving the comfort of their homes”, by imagining that they are their own “real-life avatar”.

Customers purchase digital clothes much like how they would buy apparel online, but with an added step. After selecting the garment that they would like to purchase, they will be required to upload an image of themselves.

The job will then be passed over to Republiqe’s digital tailoring team to fit the customer’s new, fully sustainable, ethically produced, digital garment to their image. The image will then be sent back to the customer, ready for them to share on social media, in no longer than 72 hours.

Republiqe Digital Fashion
A customer in Republiqe’s Chrome Mini Dress / Image Credit: Republiqe via Instagram

At Republiqe, all clothing comes one-size-fits-all as the team strongly believes in inclusivity.

In terms of cost, price points at Republiqe are similar to that of mainstream fashion brands. A Long Printed Blazer will set a shopper back by £40 (S$73.67), while an oversized t-shirt is sold at £20 (S$36.84).

Building The ‘Tesla’ Of Fashion

Republiqe Digital Fashion
Republiqe’s Earth Day commemoration pieces / Image Credit: Republiqe

Republiqe founder James Gaubert has had over 20 years of experience in the luxury fashion industry, and has worked with brands the likes of Chanel, LVMH and Burberry.

He thus decided to capitalise on his knowledge in the luxury fashion to start Republiqe on three core pillars — creativity, technology and sustainability.

“We wanted to challenge and disrupt the fashion industry, almost doing what Elon Musk and Tesla has done to the automotive industry. I have seen firsthand the damage that is being caused to our planet by the fashion industry, along with unethical production, and I think this made me want to make a difference,” James told Vulcan Post.

As a fully digital brand, Republiqe does not have long manufacturing lead times, which enable the brand to be more agile and create garments off the cuff in response to social events and “moments that matter”.

It also does not operate within the usual confines of seasons that traditional brands operate around.

“Our role is to constantly listen to, and understand our consumers, to create clothing around events that matter to them. For example we have an Earth Day micro capsule, a Pride collection, and more,” shared James.

Furthermore, another factor that sets Republiqe apart is that it is not limited by the types of fabrics and materials it can use, and the team’s creativity can flow freely. For example, one can have a garment that is fully diamond encrusted, and yet not have to pay a hefty sum.

Is It The Future Of Fashion?

According to James, the response to his digital clothes has been positive so far, and the team has sold over 500 garments within the first six months. He acknowledged that though the number might not seem significant for some, he considers it a huge success as digital fashion is a completely new space.

He believes that the future fashion is digital. Even though there will always be a need for physical clothes, looking good on social media is extremely important to Gen Z consumers, who are keen on building an online personality and escaping into a virtual reality.

Thus, Republiqe and other digital fashion brands provide Gen Z consumers with outfits they might not typically wear in real life, which James thinks will become more important in future.

“I expect to see a significant shift in spending over the coming years from physical to digital, the possibilities are endless,” he enthused.

There is still along way to go with regard to educating both manufactures and consumers, but big brands like Moschino are already dipping their toes into the digital space.

This gives James the confidence that he is “on the cusp of something very big.”

Blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can explore other blockchain and cryptocurrency related articles here.

Featured Image Credit: Republiqe

Also Read: Digital Art For S$93M? Why Non-Fungible Tokens Are Gaining Traction In The Local Art Scene

Digital Art For S$93M? Why Non-Fungible Tokens Are Gaining Traction In The Local Art Scene

non-fungible token NFT

A Singapore investor recently made waves in the art world when he spent a record-breaking US$69 million (S$93 million) worth of cryptocurrency on a digital art piece.

The sale of the piece by artist Mike Winkelmann, titled “Everydays: the First 5,000 Days”, caused a stir in the art market, where digital art was still considered fairly niche.

Winkelmann became one of the top three most valuable living artists, according to auction company Christie’s, as his sale became the highest for any online bid to date.

The purchaser of the digital collage, Vignesh Sundaresan, is one of the oldest investors in Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs operate as a new type of digital asset, and have rapidly gained popularity in recent years.

What Is A Non-Fungible Token?

non-fungible tokens NFT
Image Credit: The Guardian

NFTs are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on the Ethereum blockchain that cannot be replicated.

Each NFT has a unique identification code and metadata that distinguishes one from another, which differs from other forms of currencies. For example, one Bitcoin is always equal in value to another Bitcoin. Similarly, a single unit of Ether is always equal to another unit.

However, since each NFT is unique, they cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency. Therefore, the digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets.

NFT
Image Credit: BearBulls Capital via Medium

As with cryptocurrency, a record of who owns what is stored on a shared ledger known as the blockchain. The records cannot be forged because the ledger is maintained by thousands of computers around the world.

Anyone can “tokenise” their work to sell as an NFT and an interest to do so has been fuelled by million-dollar sales hitting the headlines recently. For example, an animated Gif of Nyan Cat — a 2011 meme of a flying pop-tart cat — has been sold for more than US$500,000.

Music can also be sold as NFTs. American rock band Kings of Leon has made over S$2.6 million in album sales so far, and The Weeknd’s new song will also be released as an NFT.

It’s not just art that can be sold. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has listed his first ever tweet for sale, with bids reaching US$2.5 million (S$3.9 million).

Putting A Value To Art

Shavonne Wong NFT
Lunah Moon, an artwork by Shavonne Wong, sold for 2.50 ETH or S$4,554.28 / Screenshot from Shavonne’s Foundation page

The copying and redistribution of artwork, especially digital ones, has been a problem faced by many artists and creatives for a long time.

NFTs allow buyers of a certain art piece to prove that they own the original copy, increasing the incentives for them to purchase the work. As for artists, the value of NFTs lie in the ability to monetise artwork despite endless copies being made.

“From an artist’s perspective, this (NFT trend) is revolutionary as we can create our work and release it directly to the public while giving buyers the confidence that it won’t be replicated and that the authenticity of their purchase will always be verifiable,” said Shavonne, who is a celebrity photographer and Forbes 30 under 30 award recipient.

Furthermore, NFTs are providing creatives with the ability to make money off personal work, which is something that is not common for creatives who are not active in the physical art world.

As the world becomes more digital, why shouldn’t our art?

There are a lot of concerns at the moment that the NFT space is falling victim to hype and while the ecosystem might go through ebbs and flows, ultimately it’s giving artists a new platform to express themselves on and it’s a bet on the continued digitisation of the world. 

– Shavonne Wong, Photographer and Artist

Shavonne told Vulcan Post that she has been creating 3D virtual human models for the past year. When she was first told about NFTs, she felt like it was “a perfect match” for her work with virtual models.

With 3D virtual models, she is able to create a huge range of personal work that would not be possible with a human model, both creatively and practically.

For example, she can add in creative features onto her models, such as having fishes swim across their faces. Furthermore, the human models she typically photographs are from modelling agencies, and her personal work with models cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Having virtual models solved both problems, and when coupled with NFTs, it gave her the valuable opportunity to sell her digital work.

Shavonne Wong
Image Credit: Shavonne Wong

Despite being new to the NFT space, Shavonne shared that the crypto art space is rich with helpful information, resources, and a community that is very ready to help.

“As long as you’re willing to be challenged and engage the community on Twitter and Discord, you’ll be fine,” she said.  

Furthermore, crypto has been going through a process of validation and legitimisation, with a wave of large and well-known corporations and individuals getting involved in the space. More specifically, Tesla has started accepting bitcoin as payments for its vehicles, while venture capitalist Mark Cuban has endorsed the NFT space.

Shavonne now sells some of her work as NFTs on Foundation, an invite-only NFT platform. So far, she has sold four of her six creations, with prices going up to 2.50 ETH or S$4,554.28.

Besides Foundation, other platforms for creatives to host their work include Rarible and Opensea.

At the core, all of the marketplaces have the same utility, allowing creators to sell their art to collectors who then purchase them for the perceived value. However, the latter two allow for anyone to create and sell on their platforms, while Foundation is invite-only.

The Future Of NFTs In Singapore

Observers have warned about the dangers of investing in NFTs, and many have also dubbed it as a bubble waiting to burst.

This is due to the fact that NFTs are traded with cryptocurrencies, which are highly volatile and subject to speculation which could lead to a sharp rise or fall in prices.

Of course, there are supporters of NFTs as well. The crypto space in Singapore is just taking off, and as Singaporeans become more tech-savvy, NFTs may be something that they want to try their hand at investing in.

The local arts community will also benefit heavily from NFTs, with the ease of access and reduced barriers to entry to selling their work.

For a long time, many digital artists have been unable to sell their work, and have to resort to giving it away for free in order to gain exposure and build a reputation.

NFTs are changing this notion. Artists, especially those in Singapore, are finally able to put a value to their hard work, paving the way for greater developments in the art scene here.

“As we all know, the arts community in Singapore isn’t exactly the easiest one to get started in and develop in, but there is nothing keeping someone from diving into the NFT space and having access to a global audience,” said Shavonne.

Featured Image Credit: Everydays: the First 5,000 Days via The Verge / Nyan Cat GIF via Hypebeast

Also Read: Coinhako CEO On Why He Bet Big On Bitcoins When Cryptocurrency Was Unfamiliar In S’pore