“Bitcoin 2013 T-shirts” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by zcopley
We all know that fashion means more than the latest outlandish catwalk creation from the likes of Giambattista Valli. While haute couture may capture the headlines when it comes to the media’s definition of fashion, the term is a lot broader than that. From technology to hairstyles, almost every aspect of our lives is defined by what’s in vogue and what’s not. For example, when Jennifer Aniston was at the height of her Friends fame, everyone wanted her hairstyle. Because she was both attractive and famous, the “Rachel from Friends” look became fashionable. Similarly, whenever a popular celebrity like David Beckham decides to chop or straighten his locks in a new way, fashion-savvy males around the world often follow.
If we take this idea a step further, we come onto technology and, interestingly, how its trends have crossed over into the world of fashion, clothing and accessories. To explain what we mean, we first need to go back to 2017 and the latest developments in the FinTech (financial technology) world. As the year developed, one innovation dominated the press clippings: bitcoin. Despite initially coming to life in 2009, bitcoin seemed to strike a chord with businesses and consumers in 2017 and that set the market into a frenzy. Much like the launch of a new pair of Yeezy trainers, bitcoin became fashionable with the general public and everyone wanted in on the action.
Bitcoin Became Fashionable in 2017
For many, the online currency was seen as the cool thing to have, others were sold on the idea that it will soon become the world’s default payment method. In line with this idea, there are now a myriad of ways to pay with bitcoin. Microsoft is one of the most notable companies that allow customers to buy Xbox games and more with bitcoin. Picking up on this idea, casino gaming sites have made BTC a default option. At Vegas Casino, players can not only make deposits in bitcoin as well as play games and win prizes. This dynamic is almost unique in the industry, but a possible marker of where things could be heading in the future.
Away from gaming, Amazon-style platforms such as Overstock now accept bitcoin, as do airlines like airBaltic. Put simply, bitcoin is just as much of a useful commodity as it is trendy tech innovation. When you look at the growth of bitcoin in 2017 from this perspective, it seems no different to a catwalk creation. As the fashion world watches models parade a designer’s flamboyant ideas up and down a runway, they’re essentially looking for the future of clothing. Sure, the garments might not make it to the high street intact, but they do serve as inspiration for what the masses will wear. The same can be said of bitcoin. Although the cryptocurrency trend started with bitcoin, there are now dozens of alternatives on the market.
Cryptocurrency Creeps onto the Catwalk in New York
“photography by Christopher Macsurak” (CC BY 2.0) by macsurak
For those invested in the idea that traditional currencies will soon fall out of favor, bitcoin has essentially started a trend that will eventually replace the Dollar, Pound and more. In many respects, this is the essence of fashion. Taking a creative idea, showing it to the world and then waiting for its seeds of inspiration to affect a change is what drives clothing designers and, moreover, innovators in all fields. However, when we scratch beneath the surface, there’s an even more obvious link between bitcoin and the world of fashion. Although the bitcoin buzz has dulled in recent months, it made an unexpected appearance during New York Fashion Week thanks to Ovadia & Sons.
Looking to tap into the zeitgeist and use the latest tech fashions to inspire their designs, Ariel and Shimon Ovadia created a bitcoin outfit. Alongside pieces based on punk and Silicon Valley, the crypto costume was a simple green shirt offset with a faux sailor’s hat and a pair of “crypto bags.” What made the shirt a bitcoin fan’s dream? Well, it bears the logo: “Bitcoin Accepted – No cash.” The now familiar bitcoin symbol makes the slogan standout and helps to capture the movement that generated so much steam in 2017.
Beyond the work of Ovadia & Sons, the light of cryptocurrencies added a faint glow to the latest creations from Raf Simons and Tom Ford. For the former, his show at 2018’s New York Fashion Show was tinged with a “money” theme.
“The inner sanctum of a boiler room, where brokers pitch their clients on penny stocks and digital currencies with a Machiavellian zeal,” Simons explained ahead of his event.
A Contemporary Spin on the Wolf of Wall Street Look
Ford has taken a similar approach with his “Wall Street-approved pleated trousers.” Again, building on the investment trend bitcoin started in 2017, Ford’s outfits were a contemporary take on how traders should dress. In fact, according to the Financial Times, the garments are a “new kind of uniform” for a new kind of trader.
“Day traders flipping cryptocurrencies at home need something to wear,” noted the FT article.
These types of ideas are likely to be bitcoin’s greatest contribution to fashion in 2018. While outfits emblazoned with cryptocurrency tags and symbols are quirky, the pieces that really have some value are the ones that embrace the broader concepts. For Ford, it’s almost as if we’re heading back to the money era of the eighties. From London’s yuppies and their trench coats to Wolf of Wall Street pinstripes and slacks, designs that scream wealth and power are coming back to the fore. However, what will be interesting to monitor is how much these trends actually interest bitcoin investors. Even though seasoned traders are now investing their money in cryptocurrencies, the market is dominated by casuals. From the young and tech-savvy to those that took a chance and got lucky, the average bitcoin investor isn’t a man in his fifties working in an office.
Streetwear Brands Have Become the Must Have Items this Season
“Yeezy.png” (CC BY 2.0) by Morgan Mafu
According to GQ’s Cam Wolf, streetwear is fast becoming the go-to style for bitcoin millionaires. Profiling 19-year-old Erik Finman, Wolf notes that many crypto investors are like “nerdy rappers” who love to show off their wealth by purchasing the most outlandish and “urban” products they can. Indeed, as Finman himself states, the “new crypto money” is getting into “all the streetwear stuff.” The knock-on effect of this is that retailers are now starting to accept bitcoin. With a new demographic ready and willing to spend, companies like Jeffersons Apparel and Kicx Unlimited are cashing in on the crypto community’s love of streetwear. What’s interesting about this is that the world of haute couture isn’t really driving the fashion choices of bitcoin fans. Just as the currency itself was designed to rebel against the system, those in the community would prefer to go a different route.
Therefore, while it’s nice to see the major designers taking inspiration from cryptocurrencies, it’s not necessarily the place we should be looking if we want to know what fans really want. In reality, the younger generation is pushing bitcoin and its peers to new heights and, in turn, they’re the ones making the fashion choices. So, while the catwalks of this world might be pushing their own agenda, those on the streets have their own take on things. Of course, whichever way the fashion pendulum ultimately swings, one thing is clear: bitcoin has had an impact on fashion. Aside from being fashionable in its own right in the tech world, the online currency has brought about a cultural shift which, in turn, has pique the interest of designers. How long this will last is unclear. Fashion is an ever-changing beast and what’s hot one season might not necessarily be hot the next. However, there’s certainly signs that this new trend will survive in one way or another.
Even if bitcoin-laced garments don’t feature at the next New York Fashion Show, there’s a strong chance we could see the streetwear scene embrace bitcoin even further. Whether it’s a new line of clothing, more ways to pay or the implementation of blockchain technology (blockchain being the network that powers cryptocurrency payments), fashion and bitcoin appear to have forged an interesting bond. The fusion of bitcoin and fashion is certainly interesting in its own right, but it’s also interesting for the industry as a whole. With designers demonstrating that they’re capable of keeping up with the times and using new ideas to infuse their creations with something meaningful, it shows the industry is staying true to its roots. Indeed, if the top labels continue to embrace the zeitgeist and strike a chord with consumers then we don’t have to worry that fashion will fall by the wayside either now or in the future.