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Have a Free NFT With Your Sneaker: Salvatore Ferragamo Gets Web3 Cool in Soho Store

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Photo: Ferragamo

This article originally appeared on Vogue Business. To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, sign up here.

Experiential retail, meet Web3. Luxury Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo’s new concept store in New York’s Soho neighbourhood is giving away free NFTs to customers alongside exclusive products, made-to-order and customisation services.

The concept was designed to make NFTs accessible and smooth for both Web3 loyalists and the crypto-curious, says North America CEO Daniella Vitale, in a store environment backdropped by periwinkle walls and regal columns. 

The store, which opens today in an area known for its youthful energy, offers a glimpse into how luxury is experimenting and testing Web3 offerings to attract a new, younger audience. For one, it’s playful and exploratory: the NFTs are accessed via an elaborate mirrored booth in which a large curved screen displays the colourful, animated artwork by digital artist Shxpir (pronounced Shakespeare), created in partnership with multidisciplinary studio De-Yan, which has produced immersive projects for Louis Vuitton and Dior. Visitors can customise the artwork with various elements, such as a silver chain and abstract shapes and patterns via touch screen and pose for a video in the booth with the art, which is minted on the spot as an NFT on Ethereum via OpenSea. Visitors must enter an email address to receive the social-friendly video and to claim the NFT in their wallet. The store is limiting the inaugural collection to 256 NFTs to start but is open to expanding the concept further, Vitale says.

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For now, the partnership with Shxpir also includes a small capsule collection of tees and sweatshirts featuring the artwork, starting at $350, with proceeds going toward New York LGBTQ organisation, The Center.

It’s Ferragamo’s first step into Web3, joining the tide of other luxury houses, including Gucci and Balmain, who are testing out the waters and following the addition of new CEO Marco Gobbetti, who joined in January with ambitions to modernise and re-energise the brand. Brands and retailers have been increasingly experimenting with how to incorporate NFTs in the physical experience, with Selfridges displaying and selling NFTs in its London store and Fred Segal displaying NFT collections in Los Angeles. Philipp Plein has just opened a new store in London, replete with an NFT gallery and crypto transactions.

Ferragamo has also pulled physical products into the store’s tech experience. Touch screens allow visitors to customise and purchase gender-neutral 6R3ENE sneakers for $1,150. As visitors mix and match colourways, the shoes are rendered in a photo-realistic, three-dimensional hologram screen. After the order is placed, the shoes are manufactured and sent in a couple of months.

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The sneaker offering will cater to sneaker-friendly Web3 communities. Puma recently announced a partnership with virtual world 10KTF that will include sneaker customisation and digital twins, while Nike-owned Rtfkt’s Cryptokicks are customisable NFT sneakers that collectors can “forge” into physical sneakers. Vitale anticipates that product personalisation and on-demand manufacturing might expand to other product categories, adding that Soho’s experimental, youthful ethos provided an apt venue for testing these new concepts.

The new Ferragamo store was unveiled at the end of conference NFT.NYC, during which a number of other brands expanded or introduced Web3 projects that combined the digital with the physical via NFTs. At Diesel’s Soho location, just nearby Ferragamo’s, guests received stickers with Bored Apes wearing recent Diesel designs, and some guests were holders of Diesel’s digital sneaker NFTs, issued in partnership with Neuno. Gucci, meanwhile, hosted a gathering for holders of its NFTs, including those created with 10KTF and those created in partnership with “synthetic celebrity” company SuperRare, which includes physical ceramic figurines.

Rebecca Minkoff, in partnership with Mavion.world, announced its latest NFT project, which includes physical, digital and experiential perks, including fashion week tickets. As Vitale noted during a preview of the Ferragamo store, fashion fans still crave the physical.