CULT and RAIN's Drop 002 is Bringing NFC Tech to Fruition
Throughout the web3 boom, one of the most exciting realms of overlap has been the potential opened up by combining blockchain tech with fashion. The two worlds already have a lot in common; they feature aspects of collectivity, design and—at times—exclusivity. If one could tie ownership of a physical asset to the blockchain, a whole new world is opened up for tradability and documentation of ownership. That’s where NFC chips come in, a technology which can be embedded into a garment, effectively marrying the physical piece with its token on the blockchain.
When I speak to the founders of CULT&RAIN, they make it clear that the brand is first and foremost a luxury fashion label. With that said, they always add the caveat that it is a label "born out of web3." Their second drop will feature the debut of NFC chips in their run of ultra high quality hoodies. I caught up with the founder George Yang and CMO Andy Griffiths ahead of the drop next week to hear about the journey of the brand since their initial mint and the future.
"We've always said since day one, we're building a luxury fashion brand. A luxury streetwear designer brand born from web three. We've never been a PFP project," George tells me as he begins to dive into the current trajectory of the brand.
After recently completing the shipment of their genesis collection of sneakers, Andy and George then turned to the community for insight on what to work on next. “A lot of the sentiment from the community was: continue to wardrobe. They were like, we have sneakers, we got a jacket… We want hoodies, we want stuff that we can wear.”
As folks with backgrounds in luxury fashion, George wanted to make sure they did it right: “We weren’t gonna just produce a bunch of shitty merch. We’re avid luxury street wear holders. Luxury hoodies, we live in them, we wear them, we have way too many in our wardrobe. Let's make the best one."
"It can't just be a hoodie. And so we also went back to the original idea of when we were fundraising for CULT&RAIN, which was tying NFC chips into the sneakers, tying that to the blockchain for authenticity ownership transfer," George tells me.
In 2021, NFC tech was still getting off the ground, but now the tech has caught up enough that they felt it was time to incorporate it seamlessly. First, they found a manufacturer for the hoodies, the same LA-based factory that produces Fear of God’s garments.
Part of what makes the NFC tech exciting is how it offers opportunities for future communication with holders: “The beauty of the chip tech is you have storytelling, right? So when you scan it, it authenticates the product because everything's already programmed in the chip that's already in the hoodie.
"We can load imagery of the physical hoodie itself, we can have exclusive content. We can load our trailer, for example, into the chip. We can launch mini trailers that are targeted towards the customers themselves.
"One-to-one communication. All you have to do is scan your hoodie. And the most important thing, which we're really stoked about, is collector rewards. So imagine you're wearing a hoodie, you're going around town, and we're like: ‘check your hoodie today, because you're gonna receive a free air drop.’ Or we can say, ‘today if you scan the hoodie, you can claim our 25% off discount on e-commerce.’”
In addition to the hoodie tied to the digital asset, buyers get an AR wearable, powered by DRESSX—accessible through scanning the chip. A few lucky buyers of the hoodie will also get a pair of sneakers in a brand new colorway, which the community is voting on right now.
Then the second part of the plan is the launch of a marketplace in Q3. They partnered with DressX for this portion of the brand, which will potentially revolutionize luxury fashion resale in the physical space.
When thinking about how to sell the hoodies, they had to decide if they wanted to go the old route of finding distributors, “or we can stick with our existing model, you know, which is we start with the digital asset. We let it trade on OpenSea first. Then we lock the asset. The digital asset is now merged into the hoodie through the chip, and then it goes on the Part B of the plan, which is through LTD.INC, our chip partner, one of the leaders, if not the leader within NFC chip tech.
“So the idea came with [LTD.INC] of creating our own marketplace for pay to pay transactions, where the hoodie can be bought and sold by holders and customers directly off the site. So you don't need to pay commission to, say, StockX. You are able to retain ownership and a percentage of the royalty."
CULT&RAIN isn't an old guard fashion brand or a web3 label, as George explains: "That's how we're gonna differentiate ourselves within the Web3 space, and that's how we're gonna differentiate ourselves from the Web2 space."
"This enables the brands to hold and maintain a percentage of ownership and loyalty and income from those. Which is a potential game changer when you think about luxury streetwear," George summarizes the marketplace to me, before adding with a smile: "I think everybody's gonna jump on the bandwagon, but we're probably gonna be one of the first ones to actually execute it."