Making Fashion History One Year Ago, Today
On September 30th, 2021, history was made in what Aaron Wright and Megan Kaspar described as “a ‘big bang’ moment” for the worlds of NFTs and fashion. Dolce & Gabbana’s “The Doge Crown” virtual fashion NFT sold to the then newly-formed Red DAO in a historic bidding war which was won at a staggering 423.5 ETH, or $1.27 million USD at the time of the sale. This marked two major occasions: 1) the highest price ever paid for a fashion NFT in history, and 2) the first purchase for the newly formed and most significant forces in Web3 fashion: Red DAO. This historical moment brings up several questions. Firstly, what made this NFT so valuable? Personally designed by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, The Doge Crown was inspired by Venice’s most famous location: Piazza San Marco, wherein lies the Doge’s Palace (historically, the administrative ruler of Venice was known as the Doge of Venice). The piece is also “phygital,” which allowed Red DAO to claim both a digital version of the piece and a physical component, made of 24-carat gold and silver, complete with a display case.
Red DAO’s physical Doge Crown at Dolce & Gabbana’s 5th Ave boutique
The Doge Crown was the marquee piece in Collezione Genesi and the debut NFT drop from Dolce&Gabbana and UNXD, a curated platform for luxury NFTs. Collezione Genesi was the first luxury NFT collection that bridged the physical and digital world and ultimately sold for nearly $6 million USD. The collection remains the industry reference point for luxury NFTs, as it pioneered a utility framework of digital x physical x experiential that a series of other brands have subsequently followed. Shashi Menon, founder and CEO of UNXD, who produced the curated drop for Dolce & Gabbana, further accredited “provenance; rarity; craftsmanship; and utility — people can use them in the metaverse and have physical experiences too.” The Crown’s listing states that, “Legend has it the special collector that owns The Doge Crown will thereafter be the anointed King of Crypto…”
Who is Red DAO? The Kings & Queens of Crypto:
The mysterious group of Web3 operators, better known as the “Red DAO,” consists of 43 currently active members who came together to create the world’s first digital fashion-focused DAO. The DAO’s focus is principally on investing and supporting emergent opportunities around fashion and apparel trends in efforts to dematerialize the industry through blockchain technologies. Red DAO consists of Web3 leaders, including the aforementioned Megan Kaspar, an early crypto investor, Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, virtual fashion influencer & founder of Draup Dani Loftus, digital fashion collector and investor Victoire Maureau, Web3 investor & Founding team member at Genies Izzy Pollak, NFT collector and fashion innovator GMoney, and NFT investment fund 2Punks Capital, among others.
Priyanka Desai, Aaron Wright, Megan Kaspar and other RED members at D&G’s NFT NYC 2021 event
According to Red DAO: “The fashion industry, one of the largest industries in the world, generated $2.5 trillion in global annual revenues prior to the pandemic.” Red DAO’s investment thesis is based on digital NFT fashion having the potential to aid global revenues in at least doubling over the next two decades “due to the digitization of fashion and new capabilities offered” therein. For example, Instagram’s recently enabled NFT feature ‘digital collectibles’ allows users to share their NFTs as posts, proving ownership without disclosing wallet addresses. Mark Zuckerberg added that the company is working on AR NFTs for Instagram stories. With over 4.7 billion people worldwide using social media and more than 227 million additional new users joining the ecosystem over the last 12 months alone, a digital future seems inevitable to this group of fashion-tech & Web3 cultural pioneers.
As DAO member Daini Loftus put it: “I think that big players currently see digital fashion as a marketing opportunity, a way to enhance brand awareness and increase consumer spending on physical assets. Instead, they need to see it as a diversified revenue stream. Digital fashion allows major fashion houses to connect with users who wouldn’t otherwise have the capital to consume their goods. As our lives shift online, dressing in virtual items will become as, if not more important than possessing their physical counterparts. This needs to be taken seriously as a vertical for these traditional brands.”
Dani Loftus in Mochic’s Red Snake Armour
Red DAO was incubated by Tribute Labs, the organization behind architecting over a dozen significant DAOs in the Web3 space, including Flamingo DAO, Unicorn DAO, Ready Player DAO, and others. The Red DAO initiated its now sizeable NFT fashion investment portfolio with The Doge Crown as well as two purely digital D&G “impossible jackets,” which were also won at the same UNXD auction, bringing their total initial spending up to roughly $1.9 million USD on what founding member Megan Kaspar deemed the DAO’s “inaugural investments.”
The Red DAO Virtual Fashion Portfolio
Over the past year, since their historic D&G purchases, the Red DAO has been hard at work supporting and incubating the brands building virtual fashion’s future. The DAO has collected NFTs from the usual suspects leading the way in the virtual fashion space. For example, red DAO is one of the most prominent collectors of the 20,000 unique RTFKT CloneX avatars created with contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, hodling over 20 CloneX Avatars. In addition, Red DAO also holds CyberBrokers by Josie Bellini, “Admit One” passes and 9dcc T-shirts by member GMoney, and dozens of other iconic collectable projects. In addition, the DAO frequently picks up pieces like 1/1 and limited edition virtual fashion NFT artworks from mainstays like Charlie Cohen, Auroboros, and even emerging designers like Catherinetheworst.eth, Alyona Briukhanova AKA @dgtl_stylist, and artists like trs.mnz all of whom create fashionable 1/1 artworks and/or editions on platforms ranging from SuperRare, to Artisant, to DRESSX and beyond.
This Outfit Does Not Exist (TODNE)
On top of NFT purchases, the Red DAO has allocated a large portion of their assets to aiding in seed and series rounds of significant virtual fashion companies pushing the Web3 fashion ecosystem forwards. Red DAO was a substantial contributor to The Fabricant’s recent $14 million series A round, the lead investor in UNXD’s $4 million seed round, and an investor in Gala Vrbanic’s Tribute Brand $4.5 million seed led by Collab+Currency, Charlie Cohen’s RSTLSS, Regina Turbina’s Artisant, DRESSX, and CYBR.
In addition to these equity stakes in virtual fashion companies and NFT purchases, Red DAO diversifies their holdings across fashion-focused protocols fungible tokens, such as Lukso’s $LYXe token.
According to DAO founding member and data researcher Katia Kovalenko, “If there’s a thesis, it’s probably diversification. Being a DAO, it’s an interesting combination of different perspectives and tastes of members. We invest in high-end drops, and we work with emerging designers we find on the internet. We see if we can help them. We also support and invest in platforms like Artisant, a marketplace for small emerging designers.”
Ecosystem building, Events, Collaborations, and more
Since coming into the Web3 space with a bang precisely one year ago today, the Red DAO has made a habit of keeping up appearances at major IRL and URL global cultural events. From directly collaborating with UNXD on an IRL event for Dolce & Gabbana at NFT.NYC in 2021, to heavily supporting brands and activations across the span of Decentraland’s first Metaverse Fashion Week in March of this past year, Red DAO has made its mark on the Web3 space.
Beyond sponsored events and supported activations, DAO members such as Dani Loftus, GMoney, and Megan Kaspar are regularly seen at global fashion weeks in Paris, London, New York City, and Milan, to name a few. As these DAO members and others traverse the Web3 space both in person and in virtual reality, they have cemented relationships with both traditional and emerging fashion brands that they’ve come to support in entering the space, such as AMBUSH’s first NFT Drops and drops from Estée Lauder Global such as the Clinique NFTs.
Megan Kaspar and GMoney at Missoni SS22 during Miami Fashion Week
However, they’ve also gained a reputation for collaborating with Web3 leaders from other Tribute Labs DAOs like Justin Aversano’s Quantum, with whom they collaborated on a 75-piece digital fashion photography collection featuring works by Jeremy Cowart, Marilyn Hue, and Rielle Oase, among others. They’ve also released a collaboration with Artisant and +Spatial.io on an event where members could style and dress their RTFKT CloneX Avatars. The three organizations collaborated on seven avatars complete with 11 fashion NFTs capable of combining into 77 unique, complete works of virtually wearable fashion.
Summer Sun, a 75-piece digital fashion photography collection
According to Red DAO: “A novel idea, Artisant’s Dressing Room conveys a deep understanding of the emerging applications and creative possibilities of fashion in the digital realm. They are embracing the spirit of collaboration in Web3, merging RTFKT avatars with the works by independent digital fashion designers.”
RED DAO virtual fashion dressing room in collaboration with Artisant & Spatial.io
What’s Next for the DAO?
These investments, events, and collaborations are just the beginning of what is shaping up to be a long and illustrious roadmap for Red DAO. Over 3,978 ETH, or $5,131,460.88 USD at the time of writing this article, has been contributed to the DAO. At a 93 ETH minimum entry into the DAO, they have set themselves up as the leading group of decision-makers in the Web3 fashion space. Despite a laundry list of major traditional fashion brands lining up to meet and speak with the Red DAO for consultation and advisement in entering the Web3 space, the DAO’s general thesis and sentiment have remained steadfast, despite the market downturn over the past months.
It is safe to say for the foreseeable future; Red DAO will continue financially supporting the creatives that drive the virtual fashion industry forward. Beyond investing, the DAO has big plans for 2023, which includes bespoke articles such as their first edition, Skin In The Game, and and the release of a token gated creative community to further deepen their connection with artists, creators, collectors and brands looking to participate in and grow the burgeoning Web3 fashion ecosystem. In addition, their DAO-backed membership community is sure to build upon foundations laid by members like GMoney in his “Admit One” and 9dcc projects. The virtual fashion community looks forward to seeing what Red DAO has in store for its second year as the leading operational Decentralized Autonomous Organization in fashion.
According to DAO Member Megan Kaspar, “The idea [behind Red DAO] is about serving the entire digital fashion community, working with established brands and emerging designers, platforms and applications as well as early stage companies that are aligned with the industry.”