Fashion, across fields, has gone through a digital reckoning; from supply chain tracking to fashion design, most areas are now working with a new level of digital integration. One of the oldest professions in the field is fashion illustration, which is now encompassing NFTs. In realizing that digital, one-off pieces have better engagement and bigger profits, many artists have transitioned from focusing on limited-edition prints to building entire digital collections.
The move toward making fashion illustrations into NFTs started with the French Fashion and Haute Couture Federation, which is behind Paris’s famous couture week. In June of 2020, it worked with fashion and luxury NFT platform Arianee to offer exclusive NFTs to designers’ show guests. The NFTs acted as tokens that could be redeemed for a digital artwork piece of a silhouette walking in front of a French flag by fashion illustrator Richard Haines, who previously worked with Prada and Calvin Klein. Talia Zoref, an Israeli fashion illustrator in the NFT space, has also seen success with making her illustrations NFT collector’s items. She had 8,888 NFT art pieces sell out in two minutes.
Jamie Lee Reardin, a fashion illustrator and NFT artist who’s previously worked with Prada, Dior Beauty and Nike, said illustration is a unique offering for the NFT space that’s mostly composed of avatar-based illustrations. “There are many artists who use traditional mediums like paint. I use gouache, and all my stuff is done by hand. It adds a richness to the artwork, which is something different that some collectors will appreciate,” Reardin tells Glossy. Reardin’s upcoming collection, entitled Celestial Bodies MMIX, mixes the history of crypto with fashion and zodiac signs and will be released on March 20.
Other fashion illustrator propositions call on the power of community, with artists launching decentralized autonomous organizations to decide on the way projects move forward. One such project is Collab Bears, a new NFT program launching with bear-focused artwork by Audrey Schilt. Schilt is a 45-year fashion industry veteran who’s worked at Halston and Bergdorf Goodman. She was also a creative director at Ralph Lauren for over 20 years and was the first to suggest the now-iconic Polo Bear mascot for the brand. Talking about the bear NFTs, Schilt said, “It’s a very eclectic collection, but it maintains a certain dignity and a luxury feel about it. That’s how it started, and I’m progressing with the help of my friends to navigate the metaverse.”
With the first tokens minting in March, the bear illustrations mark the start of NFT collaborations with personalities in the fields of fashion, sports and music. Schilt is working with two co-founders: her son Matthew Schilt, a longtime A&R in the music industry, and tech and finance expert David Borish.
“We have five, possibly six, really big collaborations [coming up with] companies that have a history with Audrey already,” said Matthew Schilt. “We have outfits and background artwork being curated by artists well-known in the street art and traditional art space. We’re also working on [collaborations] with other influencers from the style and design worlds.”
Audrey and Matthew Schilt have both previously worked with Kanye West, with Audrey being part of the team for Ye’s previous fashion label Dw (Donda West). Matthew’s also worked with rapper Talib Kweli and Polo collector and producer 88 Keys.
The DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization, that will form the basis for governance for the community will be open to those who own a bear NFT, with one voting token per NFT owned. The “Early Bear List,” open from March 30, will offer early access to NFTs to 2,500 Discord members for 0.1 ETH ($256).
The Collab Bears Discord channel launched in mid-February already has over 3,000 members. “Our socials are building pretty quickly. We’re excited that everyone is receptive to the art,” said Matthew Schilt. Bear outfit sneak peeks have revealed a hoodie and trench coat combo, T-shirts and a sweatsuit. While each of the outfits is hand-drawn by Audrey Schilt, for now, the DAO will decide what the next iteration will be, as Collab Bears are planning an entry into blockchain-based gaming. The Open sale will start on April 1 and will be limited to 7,500 members who will be able to buy their NFTs at 0.1 eth ($256) each.