A frontrunner for Milan Fashion Week has emerged – up-and-coming Chinese brand ANNAKIKI made a splash this year. The brand drew lots of praise for its designs, especially on Chinese social media.
ANNAKIKI is one of the few Chinese designers included in the official Milan Fashion Week calendar and has emerged to become one of China’s first fashion NFTs.
The brand was conceived and founded by indie fashion designer Anna Yang. Firsts are a theme for the label–ANNAKIKI was one the first Chinese fashion labels to be added to MFW in 2017. Anna is also “the first fashion designer to present an AI-empowered collection,” through ANNAKIKI’s website.
The brand explores surrealism, fantasy, and sci-fi. It takes the “coldness” of technology and breaks it into a “bold and futuristic design language”. For the designer, the brand “represents independence, modernity, playfulness, and rebellion”. From bold material choices and tech fusion, it should come as no surprise that the recent collection at MFW coincided with an NFT collection.
Backstage at Milan Fashion Week, model Lauren Wasser said: “I think new eyes on beauty are on the rise, as it should be. We’ve seen it in one way and one dimension for fashion’s entire history, but life changes, times changes.”
On the brand’s latest collection, ANNAKIKI’s website has published a few words about the future-focused designs. The collection is called, “two sides of me,” referencing the namesake’s “ANNA” as the present, and “KIKI” as the future.
Science fiction radiates throughout the collection. The fashion pieces feature metallic details, introducing sumptuous red tones and molding them into a future-flavored space spectacle.
“My two halves collide to probe the contradictory space between future-present-past, manifesting reflections in asymmetric tailoring, creative deconstruction, sculptural shapes, and technocraft. Powered by current phenomena and a retro-futurist vision, I subvert convention and expectation – with my two sides, and my two minds.”
ANNAKIKI Becomes First Chinese Label to Feature NFTs in a Fashion Week Collection
ANNAKIKI is the first Chinese label to feature NFTs in its fashion week collection. The news threw Chinese social media in to a frenzy, generating mostly positive reviews. The brand boasts that it has dressed 23 different Chinese celebrities, including Shen Mengchen, Wan Nida, and Jike Juny.
The brand and designer are rising in social media popularity. Anna’s account and the brand’s official account on the Twitter-like Weibo have over 300,000 followers combined.
The brand sells in over 12 cities across China. With offices in Milan and China, it is distributed by several global retailers such as LUISAVIAROMA, La Rinascente in Milan, and I.T in Hong Kong.
NFTs Could Make a Comeback in China
Chinese consumers have a massive appetite for information on NFTs. But crypto itself is banned in China, and public blockchains are banned because of their perceived role in fraud and money laundering. They use a system called decentralized digital certificates or DDCs, instead of NFTs.
In 2021, blockchain was referenced in China’s 14th five-year plan as a “key digital technology”, but still has a long way to go to become fully integrated. This NFT launch with ANNAKIKI could be a stepping stone for the kind of policy changes needed to integrate China’s strict BSN (blockchain-based service network) with global markets.
“One of the theories around China’s crypto ban is that it is readying to launch its own state-run crypto exchanges that would control many of the risks regulators and government see in crypto such as money laundering, tax evasion and capital controls,” says Zennon Kapron, managing director of Asian fintech strategic consulting firm Kapronasia in an interview with capital.com.
Interestingly, China plans to open BSN portals in Turkey and Uzbekistan, according to the article. Both countries are key outposts on China’s New Silk Road, which may suggest that China wants to become a global player on the NFT stage.
China has been making steps towards these changes slowly–recently, luxury brand Coach worked with GQLab, GQ China’s content development team, to create “a unique interactive NFT experience.” This is, apparently, Coach’s first foray into NFTs.
The brands are working in conjuction with Singapore startup ZKBo to keep the NFT interactions low-cost.
In a statement about the collection, they said that in order to win one of the six NFTs, fans can mix and match designs and submit their ideas through Weibo.
However, in 2021, the Development and Reform Comission of Inner Mongolia cracked down on crypto mining, banning it completely. But the crackdown is not as severe for Chinese citizens owning Bitcoin or ETH, as there are no current penalties for owning them. In the media, though, news about crypto and BTC are severely censored.
The Future of Web3 and Fashion
One of Web3’s most attractive assets is its ability to carve out a space for users to experiment with identity and appearance through virtual fashion.
With the NFT market poised to explode beyond $50 billion, it’s no surprise that a tech-forward Chinese brand is dipping their toes into the territory, but it remains to be seen if crypto and NFT trading will be possible for the general Chinese public anytime soon.
Many luxury brands have already made the move to the metaverse, but others are moving carefully. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH group, Bernard Arnault, previously voiced that the luxury house will be approaching the metaverse with “a note of caution.”