French luxury fashion house Balmain has launched a non-fungible token (NFT) based membership program, The Balmain Thread, in partnership with MintNFT. Launched during Paris Fashion Week, it’s a reimagined loyalty and rewards program powered by Web3 technology and designed to be a seamless experience across physical and digital environments. The program realises Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing’s vision of creating one unbroken story that will continue into the future. Th
The Balmain Thread provides an authenticated and transparent hub that includes all of the brand’s NFT collections, special events, virtual experiences and surprise drops. It is built on the XRP Ledger, an energy-efficient decentralised public blockchain. In a recent statement, Rousteing said, “My goal has always been to ensure that this house’s designs are timeless and tied together by a unifying thread.” With the rise of Web3 technology, it’s possible to create a close connection between the brand, designs, experiences and global community and store information in the form of on-chain records. The exclusive membership program debuted during the third edition of the Balmain Festival. It is the luxury brand’s highly anticipated show at Paris Fashion Week and celebrates the best in food, music and fashion. It’s believed almost 8,000 people attended the festival and guests were granted access to The Balmain Thread as part of their ticket to the event. Balmain’s chief marketing officer Txampi Diz said, “The Balmain Thread builds upon this house’s distinctive strategy of continually exploring pathways that might strengthen our ties with the incredibly engaged, diverse and global Balmain Army.” As part of the Balmain Festival, MintNFT created The Moment, a mobile photo experience that enabled attendees to mint their favourite Balmain Festival moment as a unique digital collectible NFT on the XRP Ledger. These in-person activities are a great way to increase digital and physical engagement during events while introducing new concepts such as NFTs to more people. Diz continued, “We’re excited about the future that lies ahead, as the physical and digital continue to merge, offering us new ways to introduce this house to broader audiences, as we build upon Olivier Rousteing’s determination to further democratise fashion.” Blockchain technology and NFTs have largely been associated with complex onboarding processes, surrounded by a volatile market and many overhyped NFT projects. However, MintNFT aims to simplify access to The Balmain Thread by providing fans safe and secure credit card onboarding supported by proprietary video verification technology. “We believe Web3 will drive a new wave in engagement, enabling companies to unlock access and provide richer experiences for their communities like never before,” said James Sun, CEO and co-founder of MintNFT. Branded worlds The spaces we inhabit go beyond the physical environment. Instead of thinking where our body is at a particular moment, consider it from the perspective of what our consciousness focuses on. The time we spend on Facebook, LinkedIn, email, text messages, face-to-face conversations, Instagram, Zoom meetings, online shopping and phone calls: these are channels we use and interact with for many hours a day, and they are becoming the building blocks for Web3 technology. The lines dividing these channels seem clear at the moment. It’s second nature to open and close apps, switch between software and browsers, make purchases with just a few taps on our phones. As Web3 technology takes hold, channels will evolve into worlds and some of the biggest brands are ready and waiting. The Balmain Thread is a peek into how this will happen, and many other brands are experimenting with Web3 in their own way. Nike is progressing by leaps and bounds with the creation of Nikeland on Roblox, and its acquisition of NFT creator studio RTFKT (pronounced: artefact). Tommy Hilfiger has Tommy Play on Roblox, Gucci has the Gucci Garden on Roblox and Gucci Vault, an experimental online space, and Burberry has digital collectibles within the blockchain game Blankos Block Party. Powered by community Brands play an important role in building and nurturing communities. While Nike, for example, is the largest sports apparel brand in the world, it is considered a lifestyle brand, and there are millions of people who live and breathe everything Nike. Luxury brands attract similar communities of passionate fashionistas and influencers eagerly anticipating a designer’s next collection, runway show or special VIP experience. And they want the digital stamp to prove it. Bringing all touch points together into one branded world gives retailers greater clarity of their audience, and provides its most loyal fans with a richer experience. From there, the interactive elements are infinite. Whether it’s physical and digital, the focus is on what the brand can offer that is deeply experiential and personalised. Balmain is tapping into the digital zeitgeist, preparing the luxury house for a future that exists in a borderless realm. Ensuring it has the infrastructure to support interaction, socialising, trading, and ownership. An NFT ticket to the Balmain Festival in 2023 could become a key to unlocking a digital vault in 2033 to gain access to rare and archived Balmain pieces. Future thinking and ideas are required now to ensure a brand’s legacy remains as valuable in a decade as it is today. And that also means understanding customers’ perception of value and what they buy in the future will be completely different.