Sean Wotherspoon is known for embracing both the past and the future. So, why shouldn’t your business endeavors?
Enter Mntge, his latest venture with co-founders Nick Adler, an entrepreneur best known as Snoop Dogg’s brand manager, and Brennan Russo, a former Adidas marketing director.
The trio is still feeling the rush from a wildly successful debut last week: an initial two-stage offering for Mntge Passes that grant exclusive early access to real and digital fashion. Now the team are setting their sights on the first real fashion outings for the first quarter of 2023, with four items from Wotherspoon’s personal vintage collection. But that’s not all.
Mntge gave WWD an exclusive sneak peek of what’s on tap, and it goes beyond the vintage denim jacket and digital twin that Wotherspoon showed off on social media days ago. In fact, there’s an added surprise: their first one-of-a-kind NFT will come with a bottle of “ink” in the virtual trunk and unlock a new layer of experience that the partners hope can surprise fans.
As Russo explained, “The trunk opens and you get two items: there’s Sean’s wardrobe piece and a bottle of ‘ink,’ and these two things are essentially in your wallet as two separate NFTs.” Apply the ink bottle and a design overlay emerges for the virtual part. The jacket itself also opens, offering a portal to another realm.
The mechanism may feel familiar to crypto natives. It’s similar to the “serums” that, when applied to the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, create “mutant monkeys” as variations of the original artwork. Here, mixing the ink bottle takes owners into an immersive world full of flowers.
The notion isn’t entirely foreign to Web 2.0 consumers, either, as social media platforms work with brands like Gucci and others to bring users into immersive, stylized environments, from lush gardens to mazes, via smartphone cameras and augmented reality The same spirit of experimentation that drives those campaigns often places innovative fashion houses like Gucci, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and more at the forefront of Web 3.0.
Of course, owners don’t have to mix ink and NFT. But if they choose to, it’s easy enough to do. “You’ll get a notification to merge, and then you’ll go to a new site and submit the two [the NFT and the ink]Russo continued. “You send a wallet, it will read it and burn those two, giving you this brand new, more dynamic, futuristic NFT.”
At present, the immersive environment of ink Mntge is a kind of relaxation experience. But the team continues to develop use cases, exploring how far it can push the technology. He hopes to offer some agency within the secondary environment one day, possibly even connecting it to one or more metaverse platforms.
“We don’t own any proprietary software to do this,” he added. “But I think we’re the first to think about clothing, in terms of how to take it from an existing original piece to a more dynamic, futuristic piece.”
So far, fans seem to be on board for the ride.
According to Adler, Mntge passes a total of 1,400 sold units in its initial two-stage offering last week. The first stage, offered strictly to partner communities, moved 1,290 passes, and the second batch, a public draw, moved 110 passes in a few minutes the next day.
“We saw an insane amount of tickets, 300,000 tickets, that came in, and we sold out in four minutes,” Adler added. “And that’s what drove us at OpenSea. I think right now we’ve done 480 ETH in total trading volume, which if you look at the ETH to USD conversion, that’s about half a million dollars. Now there’s only 100 left, reserved in the vault for important contacts , as collaborators.
In other words, even before Mntge launches real fashion, be it real or virtual, the company is already popular. Indeed, with 1,065 owners, it’s clear that some customers have purchased multiple passes, which explains why some are already showing up on the OpenSea secondary market.
For Adler and his partners, traction validates their original concept.
Mntge, an acronym for “mint” and “vintage”, is exactly what it sounds like, an effort to unite the world of vintage and the world of NFTs. To hear Adler and Wotherspoon’s take, there’s a natural connection, and picking up on that is what spawned the business.
“In the Second Round [Wotherspoon’s L.A. vintage boutique], I just saw kids coming in all day buying vintage t-shirts. It’s the middle of COVID-19, everyone’s masked, and something hit me,” Adler continued. “I looked at Sean and asked him about it, and everything he told me a year and a half ago came true: from the size of the vintage market, to how fast it was growing, to what was trending and things like Carhartt’s Double Knee pants or specific bands, and why one was more valuable than the other.”
He saw premium T-shirts featuring Madonna, Snoop Dogg and others fetching thousands of dollars. “I asked him why and he started telling me [about] the provenance, the fade of this T, and how come it’s a green fade, but it was a black T…how these 80s Hanes Ts are more durable than the high-end boutique Ts of 2022,” he continued. “I was just thinking about how these things had such stories to tell and had provenance and rarity and traits. It really looked like what was happening in the NFT world.”
For Wotherspoon, it was a similar moment of lightning.
“I was describing the T-shirts – that’s something I’m very proud of, you know. I’m hand-picking,” said the designer and collector. for our stores. And I love explaining to people the character of these shirts, whether it’s where I got it from and where that person got it from, who made it, or just the makeup stuff.
“It’s the increased ability to use your senses to experience these elements,” Wotherspoon continued. “And as I was explaining it to Nick, I realized, ‘Oh, wow, these are similar traits to how you’re talking about Web 3.0 and the NFT world.'”
The vintage denim jacket that will be released through Mntge as its first fashion drop is one that Wotherspoon outbid a fashion brand to acquire, he added. Soon it will be in the hands – and in the crypto wallet – of a new owner, who will enjoy its second or perhaps third life for a field of flowers and overlays.