As we move into this unprecedented future of life after a pandemic, mingling with global unrest and climate catastrophe, it is clear that we must behave in ways that better serve our common future. People are looking for imaginative and creative ways in which brands can integrate technology and create access to everyday products, while maintaining an emphasis on innovative sustainability and interactive community building.
Important buzzwords like NFT, Web3 and Blockchain grow with our burgeoning curiosity. We’re learning how to leverage these emerging technologies and taking steps to create smarter products to reach this growing market of informed consumers. By looking at these digital advances through the lens of forward-thinking sustainability, we can judiciously connect these worlds into a landscape of opportunity and utility – planting the seeds of virtual ‘growth’ and radical eco-optimism.
Fashion Snoops is a global trend forecasting agency that helps leading brands around the world innovate and fuel growth. This report on the future of the active and outdoor markets is written by Rachael Gentner, Director of Activewear at Fashionsnoops. Learn more about fashion snoops here.
How to (re)connect
With NFTs walking the line between gimmick and entrepreneurship, we are at the forefront of what can be achieved by looking beyond collecting – and allowing an opportunity for ideas to flourish amidst digital wallets and gifs . Brands are attracting a new wave of interest and offering a new level of buying power that leverages a collaborative voice and interactive community alongside ownership of real, tangible products. This new way of buying is no longer just passive, but offers the opportunity to become more involved. This platform allows its members to participate in the design and development of future products, it gives them access to exclusive digital perks and events, and a like-minded community. By sharing the mic, brands are able to tap into the minds (and voices) of their global followers as they collaborate and build as a collective team.
Peering into the uncharted space of Web3 technology, it’s no wonder it’s attracting forward-thinking minds from the active and outdoor community – because exploration and achieving the unthinkable is at the heart of this adventurous industry. For Ty Haney, founder of athleisure company Outdoor Voices and company Joggy, moving to a more community-focused platform was an obvious step forward. Their latest project, Try Your Best, is a user-friendly approach to Web3 aimed at those who are social media savvy but perhaps still trying to get the idea of blockchain-based platforms and crypto buying. By shifting brands’ attention to a decentralized space, Try Your Best aims to power the future of direct buying while regaining control of relationship building and customer engagement by eliminating the need for traditional, algorithm-driven social marketing. Emerging on the TYB blockchain is the opportunity for co-creation, where consumers digitally partner with their favorite brands and are rewarded through NFTs and tokens in exchange for virtual engagement such as product feedback and sharing with friends. On Haney’s platform, the connection between products and people grows beyond the first click, creating a synergistic partnership with shared values and borderless collaboration.
A new exploration page
Finding groups that make us feel seen while celebrating our collective motivation and passion is at the heart of any good community. We look to others for inspiration and stimulation, testing our limits as we work towards a common goal. In the active and outdoor community, we advocate for groups that celebrate diversity and advocate for more inclusion, so that these spaces become more open to all. That same mentality is being rethought and restructured, with digital communities and outdoor spaces forging a new marriage of grassroots determination.
Brands like Paris-based but remotely built Early Majority offer a glimpse into the future of how the outdoor world can integrate NFT technology along with designs that encourage a ‘degrowth’ approach in the fashion industry. Founder Joy Howard, who has served as Patagonia’s vice president of global marketing, is determined to transform the system through highly versatile designs that encourage functionality and community. By creating a membership-based system, purchased NFTs include benefits such as outdoor events, collective product swaps, and an active say in future product development and design. Leveraging web3 provides actual ownership, with a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) at the core to help shape the brand’s purpose, while the membership base continues to grow and diversify with new voices and ideas. The Early Majority team has also developed Exchangeable Membership Cards (NFTs), which offer owners lifetime access and the ability to swap out the cards in support of various activist foundations, inclusive outdoor groups, and unique art – allowing the digital designs to be supportive and create meaningful connections.
Companies like Outside.io are also exploring how technology can motivate movement and outdoor experiences by facilitating human interaction with digital roots. As an NFT marketplace, Outside.io is dedicated to getting more time outdoors by partnering with top athletes, emerging artists, and inspiring leaders in the space to offer rewards and benefits related to the Exploration of nature, protection of the planet and a deeper connection to the community grow.
As concern for the climate prompts us to question more and settle for less, people are putting sustainability at the forefront of product design and favoring brands that are eco-conscious from the inside out. At Fashion Snoops, we continue to track and highlight sustainable innovation in the active and outdoor markets. General product changes such as ‘Made to be disassembled’ and cultivated nature offer new insights into updates on organic fabrics and circular (re)design. While NFTs, Web3 and blockchain technology raise legitimate questions about their environmental impact, many platforms are applying their forward-thinking ethos to the digital realm, with carbon neutral, carbon sequestering and carbon negative effects.
Companies like Eco Labs work with brands to ensure NFTs and Web3 activities are provably sustainable, with a focus on ecological regeneration and protected biodiversity to offset negative environmental impacts and digital carbon footprints. As consumers seek deeper information about their purchases, blockchain platforms can offer more opportunities for rich data and open-source intelligence to ensure fully traceable shopping experiences. Broader knowledge yields a larger, more comprehensive label, migrating from the fabric seams to our digital screens, enabling full transparency across the entire product lifecycle – from the supply chain to the recycling process and every step in between.
As technology continues to grow, so does our desire to change the world around us. We recognize the current climate emergency and the power each and every one of us has when it comes to buying and making products for a good cause. Sustainability and collective diversity are two driving factors for the future of active and outdoor product design. Web3, NFTs and blockchain platforms offer a forward-thinking approach to motivate us and point to eco-optimistic opportunities. If we view these digital innovations as a disruptive tool – and not as a means to an end – we have the opportunity to create a more sustainable tomorrow for posterity.
This article was similarly published on FashionUnited.uk. Translation and editing: Barbara Russ