TRIBUTE BRAND: Digital Pioneers Leading Fashion Into The Future
Marina Jukić, Co-Founder of TRIBUTE BRAND joined as on this episode of NEWFORUM. TRIBUTE BRAND is a high-end digital fashion brand and a fashion tech house known as one of the leading pioneers in the field and famous for its characteristic contactless & cyber aesthetics.
We enjoyed navigating the Digital Fashion world with Marina and hearing what TRIBUTE BRAND has been pioneering in the digital space and the inspiring story behind the establishment of this fascinating BRAND.
What is the TRIBUTE BRAND origin story?
Marina met Filip Vajdat while they were still having their physical Fashion Brand, and the two got together on the transitioning journey from physical to digital. Marina and Filip decided to start a digital fashion brand. The foundation idea of TRIBUTE BRAND came in 2017 when Gala Vrbanic (she received her master’s degree in digital fashion at the School of Design) presented a project with digital fashion and wanted to develop her idea into a more significant project.
“ When we met in 2019, Gala said she wanted to start a digital fashion project, something you can see in AR filters, skins and games, and more, so we wanted to make it a fashion that people can wear on social media in games everywhere that is digital. At the time, I said yeah, I can see it; let’s do it, so we started in 2019, just three of us. Igor, our CTO, joined a couple of months later, and then precisely one month afterward, we launched TRIBUTE BRAND as a pilot project. We wanted to see how the Market reacts to fashion in 3D designs…” — Marina
According to Marina, the BRAND started initially as an experiment to see how people react to the whole product and digital experience; how will people use the fashion? Will it be in AR? How are we going to Market it? Will it be like an e-commerce site, or will we build a mobile Marketplace?
“ I wanted to test how it works with real people in a real Market, and initially, we didn’t expect many reactions, but as time passed, it got more interesting from the first point, and this gave us an excellent motivation to push the BRAND forward…” — Marina
In the entire episode, Marina shared more about the beginnings and process of launching the TRIBUTE BRAND and how the designs sparked curiosity and interest. Fast forward three years after, the BRAND has 14 employees in Tech, design, and fashion, and they continue to explore new fields, fashion, and sides of Tech.
A glimpse into the day-to-day life of a digital fashion BRAND? Current Collaborations or projects TRIBUTE is most excited about?
“We started with Web2 e-commerce platform where we sold the premium fitting service as you can see many examples on Instagram where people wear high-quality renders on their photos, and since then we wanted to expand our services and utilities into different spaces such as Metaverse and AR…” — Marina
The Founders decided transition into Web3, and since a couple of months ago, they have been working on Web3 platforms, both Tech and Design teams; they are working on the mobile app and on a series of collections that will come soon to their newly launched web and mobile app platforms.
Where does Marina see the BRAND and digital fashion ecosystem in the next three years?
Marina explained that she had a realization while working on a drop with a DEMATERIALIZED platform; it was their first NFT drop called The Real Deal.
“ We launched a collection that had a good concept; there was a crossover between physical and digital; we wanted to present three spaces to dig into, and it was an exciting drop where we made one garment that has its form in physical, phygital and digital, and this was our point in time when we realized that we want to keep all of the three spaces and to experiment and to explore both physical and digital and everything in between…” — Marina
Marina believes this is the way to go for digital fashion.
“I think this is a way to go for digital fashion. I don’t think it should stay just in the digital space; digital fashion enables fashion designers to explore more spaces and connect physical with digital as well…” — Marina
Regarding Business Models: what is outstanding about having a digital fashion brand compared to a traditional fashion brand?
Marina explained that, at the moment, it’s still quite a new area; it’s a way to play and experiment with different things-
“I think the whole ecosystem where digital fashion exists, it’s fresh for fashion designers because designers have additional tools, some weird constraints they need to fit into, and it gives interesting and unexpected results, and I think it also broadens the horizon of what fashion is in the first place because it doesn’t necessarily need to be a shirt or dress or something that we’re used to in a physical space. It can be anything that you want to use to express yourself as a person online or in physical life.” — Marina
What are the challenges that come with digital fashion?
According to Marina, they started with the usual set of clothing you will see in the street, but later it evolved with a spin on it where it became tough to distinguish whether it was real or not.
“This shifted our mindset as well from this point in time to different kinds of pieces we wanted to experiment with different spaces, and then we made a pet ware collection, and then we moved on into the Metaverse and created some wearable for the Decentraland, and it was a kind of multiple different approaches, but they had the TRIBUTE BRAND vision behind them; so this is interesting to see how things look different in other spaces, but you can still see the general idea behind the BRAND and the concept behind it…” — Marina
What is the TRIBUTE BRAND style, and how does it align with trends in digital fashion?
Marina expressed that it was nice to see more specific, more digital garments and not something we would see in our daily life, for example, a ball dress or a kind of metallic balloon dress.
“This purely digital garment worked the best for us, and it was nice to see how people react to these garments, pose for them, and respond to the overall outcome; this pushed us into the direction of digital…” — Marina
Marina talked about how the brand incorporates AR into its designs and the possibility of expanding into the Metaverse.
What is the advice for people getting into digital fashion? What should they consider when building their brand?
“I’m just going to reflect on the time we first got together as a few designers working on a new project; at the time, I think all three of us had a clear vision of what it will be. I think having a clear idea is essential from the beginning. You can have an idea, a plan for a new project, and different aspirations, but if that idea isn’t clear in a few days or within a month, it’s time to discard it. Just go with the concept that is most clear to you.” — Marina
Marina also gave us insights into the team’s different backgrounds and approaches and how this spice up the BRAND as we know it.
Marina shared that she doesn’t have any experience in fashion. She was a digital designer and brand designer. She also worked for a digital agency. Igor, on the other hand, mostly has a Tech background.
“It’s interesting to see overlaps between Tech, fashion, and digital design and how it works together, but I think differences bring more interesting stuff and more exciting results, so I guess if we thought the same, it wouldn’t be the same result…” — Marina
What is TRIBUTE currently working on, and what is Marina looking forward to in the future with TRIBUTE?
Marina mentioned that she is looking forward to many things, including new collections. She shared that they are preparing different drops. She is also excited about the new collaborations and new items that people will be able able to buy or mint.
“We also have some collaborations with some NFT artists for the upcoming drops, and we’re also planning to launch some generative NFT drops in the future, so things will get quite interesting; both on the utility and fashion side, because we do not yet have that aspect in our work…” — Marina
What is Generative NFT?
“We’re looking forward to the generative aspects of NFT. To me personally, that’s one of the most beautiful parts of obtaining and owning an NFT, so you have a new unique piece that is yours to share and to wear or to trade whatever you want.” — Marina
Marina further explained that you can approach NFTs in different ways; you can have a series of NFTs, and each entity is unique, but they’re maybe made manually, or they’re pre-produced, but the Generative aspect of an NFT really makes it unique because you get a set of unexpected properties. They’re based on scarcity and rarity. Each piece, according to Marina, will be unique, and you won’t be able to pre-assume what you’re going to get out of an NFT.
Still, need to understand what Generative NFT is? Hear more examples from Marina, especially one based on a music project where an artist launched 5000 songs, and each piece was unique, based on… Watch the full episode and get all her insights Generative NFT and more!
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