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Pacsun Reaffirms Metaverse Ambitions Despite Unsold NFTs

A tepid response to Pacsun’s latest slate of NFTs isn’t dampening the teen retailer’s metaverse ambitions.

Just four months after auctioning off its first NFT for 0.1792 ETH, more than $700 at the time, the retailer released its largest slate of NFTs yet on March 31. When the bidding closed a week later, only two of the 14 so-called Pac Mall Rats had received a single bid. In both cases, they sold for 0.0588 ETH, roughly $190. Since the price of ETH declined over the auction’s seven days, both tokens technically sold for less than Pacsun’s original $200 opening bid.

Since Pacsun sold its first NFT in December, every following token has sold for less than its predecessors. The company’s first three Pac Mall Rat NFTs—the anthropomorphized, Pacsun-wearing rats appear to draw inspiration from the Bored Ape- style of NFT collection where each token depicts a similarly designed, but unique character—sold in February for between 0.0945 ETH and 0.1 ETH, around $300 at the time. Later that month, it attempted to auction off an NFT artwork created by the artist Sara Shakeel. With an opening bid set at 0.327 ETH, $1,000 at the time, the token received zero bids before the auction closed. Pacsun still owns the NFT.

Pacsun is not giving up on the metaverse or NFTs, however. The retailer intends to release all 283 remaining Pac Mall Rat NFTs over the next 24 months. The 12 tokens that did not sell last week will become available for purchase again as well.

Pacsun's New York City NY x Reebok Pac Mall Rat received zero bids before the auction ended
Pacsun’s New York City NY x Reebok Pac Mall Rat received zero bids before the auction ended. Pacsun

“Brands have two options when it comes to entering the metaverse and NFT space—to wait and see or lead the way,” Pacsun president Brie Olson told Sourcing Journal. “Both have risks. Pacsun has decided to lead, as we are committed to Pacsun’s cultural DNA centered around innovation and creativity, which in our opinion, mitigates the risk of testing and exploring unproven concepts.”

Though Olson acknowledged the “unique revenue opportunity” NFTs offer in the long term, she said Pacsun is focused for now on “building community” and engaging with its audience. The company, she added, is looking to launch a standalone platform for NFT and metaverse engagement, acquire virtual real estate and establish more internal expertise around marketing NFTs and metaverse initiatives. In future NFT drops, it plans to include exclusive brand collaborations, creator spotlights and “unique creative assets that represent the curation of the Pacsun lifestyle and brand partnerships.”

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“We believe the metaverse and NFT expansion opportunities offer infinite creativity and imagination,” Olson added. “The concept of the metaverse is still largely undefined and undeveloped. We are excited to be exploring this space alongside our consumer. The metaverse is a natural space for Pacsun to express itself and create unique brand experiences.”

Nearly 10 months after Roblox first began offering Pacsun-branded gear on its avatar marketplace, the retailer announced late last month the launch of Pacworld, its first dedicated experience on the tween- and teen-centric platform. The fantasy interactive mall experience sees players become the owner and operators of a new mall. Tasked with making the mall as profitable and popular as possible, they can create and remove shops, upgrade stores that perform well, decorate the mall and invite friends to visit. In the week and a half since Pacworld’s launch, it has been visited roughly 3,000 times.

Boohoo ‘sells out’ 10,000 NFTs in two hours

Pacsun is not the only fashion brand getting into NFTs, of course. Many of its competitors in the space, however, have taken a different approach, releasing many iterations of the same NFT instead of just one-of-one tokens.

In December, Under Armour sold off 2,974 tokens at $333 a pop in recognition of Steph Curry’s record-breaking 2,974th three-pointer. Days earlier, Adidas launched its first major NFT collection, selling 29,620 copies of a single NFT at 0.2 ETH per token. The release generated the equivalent of more than $22 million at the time.

Nearly four months after giving away its first eight NFTs in an online sweepstakes, Boohoo pivoted to this approach for its first major crypto drop. On Sunday, it “sold out” this collection of 10,000 NFTs in two hours. Unlike Wrangler, Adidas and Under Armour, however, it made these NFTs available for free.

Boohoo gave away 10,000 copies of its access card NFT for free Sunday
Boohoo gave away 10,000 copies of its access card NFT for free Sunday. Boohoo

The “access card” NFTs give owners access to digital artwork created by NFT artist Amy Kilner and will provide early access to Boohoo’s “phase two, big move in the metaverse,” as well as exclusive offers and discounts. The tokens were limited to one per crypto wallet. They are now selling for $18 on OpenSea.

“It’s inspiring to see large brands jump into the world of Web3 and NFTs, from a creative standpoint,” Kilner said in a statement. “I love that Boohoo are using their platform to create positive and empowering opportunities for women across the globe; in an industry predominantly led by men it’s a great step forward. I’m really excited to be a part of the journey with them to develop this new space.”

Leading up to Sunday’s release, Boohoo launched a Twitter account and Discord channel dedicated to its metaverse efforts. The Twitter account, which was created in February, has amassed more than 8,300 followers so far. The Discord channel, which dates back to at least mid-March, has grown to more than 5,400 members. Boohoo framed these communities as a way “to onboard the female fashion community into Web3.”

“We’re delighted to be continuing our journey in the metaverse with our first female lead NFT collection, it’s amazing that we’re able to champion females and support women’s creativity and innovation,” Boohoo head of marketing Jessica Routledge said in a statement. “This is just the beginning of what’s to come for Boohoo in the metaverse.”

StockX responds to Nike’s NFT lawsuit

Back in January, StockX launched what it called “Vault NFTs.” The collection tied a digital token which users can trade among themselves to a real, physical sneaker that the resale platform holds in its “climate-controlled, high-security vaults.”

The initial collection consisted of nine silhouettes, eight of which belonged to either the Nike or Jordan brands. In some cases, these NFTs were one-of-one. In others, StockX backed up hundreds of pairs of a single style with hundreds of corresponding tokens.

The sneakers were visually depicted on the graphics used to represent the NFTs, as well as materials promoting the launch. Within weeks, Nike sued the streetwear-centered marketplace alleging the collection constituted trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, trademark dilution and injury to its business reputation.

Given its intent on pursuing digital goods, Nike argued, StockX’s NFTs were likely to confuse consumers, create a false association with Nike and dilute the footwear giant’s trademarks. Nike released its first NFT product in February via its newly bought subsidiary RTFKT—the mysterious token features Nike Swooshes on its surface, the only sign connecting it to the sneaker company.

StockX submitted its response to Nike’s complaint on March 31. In it, it argued its NFTs “are absolutely not ‘virtual products’ or digital sneakers.” Its Vault NFTs—which now include trading cards, action figures and New Balance, Puma and Yeezy sneakers—have “no intrinsic value,” it contended, and instead act as a “claim ticket” or “key” to the underlying item.

“StockX’s platform has attracted a significant number of customers who are interested in acquiring and trading current culture products, without any interest in immediately or ever wearing (or ‘consuming’) those products or taking physical possession of those products,” it wrote. “Nonetheless, until recently, such customers had to incur the transaction costs and shipping times commonly associated with e-commerce experiences, even though physical possession was unnecessary to these customers’ goals and needs.”

It said it turned to NFTs to expedite this process of trading physical products, cutting out “unnecessary costs and fees for customers.” Using images of Nike sneakers and descriptions of resale products, it argued, amounted to nominative fair use. As of its March 31 response, it had completed 2,853 Vault NFT transactions.