Coach is the latest luxury brand to hop on the NFT bandwagon, with the iconic handbag seller teaming up with GQ China to bring limited-edition artwork to Chinese shoppers.
With GQLab, the sponsored content development team of GQ China, the sister brand of Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade will release six limited-edition NFTs inspired by iconic designs from Coach’s fall 2021 collection, themed “Coach Forever II.”
At the center of this partnership is ZKBox, the marketplace responsible for hosting the NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and ultimately enabling brands, influencers, artists, celebrities, creators and ordinary users to create, transfer and trade the digital tokens.
The partnership is both Coach China and GQ China’s first trial in the NFT space as more luxury fashion brands and media publications experiment with the trending blockchain technology. A media partner of Coach China, GQLab is the digital content pipeline of GQ China on WeChat, bringing the luxury brand into campaigns across TikTok, social network and content sharing platform Weibo, WeChat and online entertainment platform Bilibili.
On Weibo, Coach fans can enter for a chance to win an NFT by sharing their ideas of “Mix & Match” of personal designs and total looks. Six winners will be selected to win the Ethereum-based NFTs.
The co-created IP theme behind the project is called “Art Eye.” With the project, GQLab aims to bridge the gap between art and the fashion world through multiple arts-related angles including art schools, artist interviews, art community, and trending news and topics.
As some of the winners may be new to the blockchain or NFT space, ZKBox will provide a tutorial to guide participants through claiming their NFTs using their crypto wallets.
NFTs have seen exponential growth throughout 2021, with Asics auctioning off a collection of digital footwear over the summer. Adidas also entered a campaign with digital fashion company The Fabricant to help design and auction pieces on the blockchain, but hasn’t launched its own product yet.
These digital assets are designed to provide verifiable proof of ownership since they are placed and shared on the secure blockchain. What has driven the popularity of these digital goods as luxury items is their exclusivity—once on the chain and given a unique ID number, they theoretically can’t be copy-pasted, edited, deleted or otherwise manipulated.
“NFTs are acting as a gateway for brands, individuals, and audiences that have not previously been involved in the blockchain and crypto space to enter. There’s so much opportunity for experimentation and innovation, and that is attracting the attention of top players in multiple industries,” said Hailan Jia, public relations director at ZKBox. “Coach China and GQ Lab are top players in their respective fields, so we’re excited to jointly work and bring these fashions content to the digital world.”
China has a young audience more than willing to spend on luxury goods—in fact, the market accounted for two-thirds of luxury spending growth worldwide, according to data from NPD Group.
And Coach is reaping the benefits of this growth so far, with sales in China growing 60 percent from last year to $1.1 billion and over 40 percent from the same 2019 quarter. China sales now take up 22 percent of total business at Coach, the second highest behind the North American market at 58 percent. Total consumers in China have increased at a “high-single-digit rate” above pre-pandemic levels, according to Joanne Crevoiserat, CEO of Coach’s parent, Tapestry.
In the company’s investor presentation in August, the company highlighted digital and China as two priority growth areas for 2022, making the NFT launch a way to kill two birds with one stone. In the presentation, the company specifically highlighted that it wanted to “pioneer innovative formats to sustain digital leadership and recruit younger customers,” a goal a trendy area like NFTs aligns perfectly with.
And in the case of China, Coach said it would capitalize on market trends of the emerging middle class and increased digitalization and “drive brand heat and increase awareness through investment in dedicated capsules and marketing activations.”
ZKBox is an NFT marketplace based on a “Layer2” blockchain solution, which is essentially built to offer faster transaction processing than a regular Ethereum network as there aren’t any gas fees. These chains are typically designed to handle smaller transactions and ultimately reduce traffic on the main “Layer1” network, although ZKBox says it supports NFT transactions between Layer1 and Layer2 networks. The platform just made its website public on Sept. 23.