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Diesel Debuts New Sneakers, NFT; Parent Company Invests In the Metaverse

Diesel launched Prototype, a new sneaker design that signals a fresh direction for the Italian denim brand’s footwear offering.

The Prototype sneaker is “aptly named to reflect the start of something new,” and sets the tone for Diesel’s digital future. First seen on the Spring/Summer 2022 runway, the sneaker features colorful accents, asymmetrical lacing and rubber overlays across its uppers.

It marks Diesel creative director Glenn Martens’ first sneaker for the brand, and is sold for $395 (350 euros), a higher price point than other Diesel sneakers, which typically hover around $200. The Diesel Prototype physical shoe will be available this month at Diesel stores worldwide and online, with more colors slated to drop in February.

In addition to the physical shoe, the Prototype sneaker will also be available as a limited-edition nonfungible token (NFT) created by digital fashion house The Fabricant, the brains behind a number of brands’ digital-only clothing and accessories, including Adidas’ recent push to design and auction pieces on the blockchain.

The NFTs are not yet available for purchase.

This isn’t Diesel’s first venture into NFTs. Martens teamed with developer Fanaply to create NFT invitations for its Spring/Summer 2022 Milan Fashion Week show, his first presentation as a part of the brand, providing VIP guests with futuristic mementos that mirror his boundary-pushing vision.

Elle magazine recently referred to NFTs as “the new sneaker drop”—likely a reflection of brands like Nike, which since 2019 has filed sneaker patents using the technology, and 3D art collective RTFKT, which teamed with 18-year-old artist Fewocious to design a collection of digital sneakers and charms, and generated $3.1 million in just seven minutes. According to Michael Hamilton, assistant professor of business analytics and operations at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the profit-sharing potential of NFTs bodes especially well for the sneaker world, where shoes regularly resell for hundreds of dollars more than their original price.

Diesel parent company OTB is aware of the opportunity. On Tuesday, the Italian fashion group that owns Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, Jil Sander, Viktor & Rolf and Amiri, debuted Brave Virtual Xperience (BVX), a new business unit dedicated to developing products for the metaverse, or the hypothesized iteration of the internet where NFTs live. Led by Stefano Rosso, who serves as a member of the OTB board of directors and the board of Aura Blockchain Consortium, the venture will help the company generate new business opportunities and connect with younger demographics most likely to spearhead the shift to the digital community.

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“BVX has the ambition to drive the digital transformation at OTB Group and its brands toward the future of our society, which will merge the life in the real and virtual world,” Rosso said. “Unlocking the potential of our brands in the gaming world and metaverse is definitely the most exciting experience to work on.”