MILAN — Can the evolution of e-commerce lie in decentralized marketplaces?
Entrepreneur Andrea Panconesi who masterminded LuisaViaRoma’s foray into e-commerce in 1999 and is now its chairman after the retailer was sold to Style Capital last year, thinks so.
Building on the success of gaming platform Mod4 introduced in 2020 by Panconesi’s fashion-tech company Avawear, the businessman is venturing into NFT wearables debuting Wear3, a blockchain-powered, democratic marketplace selling NFT wearables designed by creators and brands.
The first digital collections will be available on Wear3 starting from mid-July.
“It’s been a long time coming, I wanted to channel my experience in fashion of over 20 years into a digital vision, now that the market is mature enough to consider digital commerce a concrete business driver,” Panconesi told WWD.
“It’s just the beginning of this adventure, it feels like being back to 20 years ago when Web1 was introduced,” he said. “The only difference is that it took 20 years to transition to Web2, while only two to three years were needed to reach this stage [Web3],” he said.
The marketplace debuting Wednesday is based on the Polygon blockchain and will accept payments in the namesake cryptocurrency, but Avawear said it plans to debut its own token in the future.
Wearable NFTs traded on the marketplace will be suitable for integration in the Mod4 platform to outfit the game’s avatars, but they should also be easily used in different metaverses in the future. The entrepreneur anticipated that some sort of collaboration with LuisaViaRoma will occur in due course.
Conceived as a democratic and meritocratic space, the Wear3 marketplace will offer a share of visibility to digital fashion creators, as Panconesi and his team of 20 people behind the Avawear company created an ecosystem that is partly ruled by its community.
Committed to integrating the digital and physical component, the most popular and best rated NFT wearables on the community platform will be eligible for the production and distribution of physical counterparts, via a specially created decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO.
“The Web3 phenomenon has seen explosive growth over the past two years…and it was dominated by tech giants which made huge investments, but I expect the people to take over, rule Web3 and own their data,” Panconesi offered.
Panconesi sees Wear3 as an additional layer to fashion. “Physical distribution will remain key and will follow the evolution set by economic trends, but it will be flanked by the Web3 realm,” the entrepreneur said. “I see the [fashion] ecosystem as communicating vessels, when one vessel reaches saturation point, then business opportunities spill over to something else, that is nascent,” he offered.
Although Panconesi admitted it’s a learning curve, expectations are high following the unexpected success of the Mod4 gaming App, which was downloaded by 500,000 users in its first year.