1. What is Special Items, and how do you stand out from other players in the field?
Special Items is the multiverse’s first luxury marketplace specialized in wearable digital collectibles. We are a female-led team who all hail from the physical industry. We are diehards for the craft, art, and potential to build community and connectivity through fashion. We noticed there was a need for industry locals to join the space to inject the art, elegance, and history of the physical industry into the current digital landscape.
What sets us apart is that our core focus is to remove the ‘tech’ barrier to invite communities outside the digital realm into the space. We provide expertise and services to allow a white glove experience for newbies to digital fashion to get fitted without the need for an external app or software expertise. We allow for the community to unlock their creativity by allowing a new way to expand your style and self-expression online.
Overall, we offer a supportive and familiar luxury commerce model for creators and consumers with increased traceability, wearability, and interoperability – which basically means we can help you transport your fits across a multitude of platforms.
2. Are you a community focused business? If so, how would you describe your own community?
First, we always say the designers are the heartbeat of our community. We stock independent designers and brands from all over the globe – our relationships with them run deep, and we are constantly smashing ideas together to see how we can collaborate – all focused on the shared goals of seeking a more inclusive fashion space, creating without the ecological ramifications of physical fashion, and building the new digital roadmap for our industry.
As a marketplace, community is everything to us. Each time we fit, we make it feel like a collaboration. Our clients are our muses.
We also have conversations with people from many creative mediums for the Special Items Diary. Specifically, we’re obsessed with music, art, literature, space, nature, beauty, CGI, skateboarding, and zodiacs. One might say we are all pretty outgoing. But first, we usually need to know what music you like. These communities are also our muses, and we find musicians typically have a sort of persona or alter-ego which becomes a natural fit for digital wearables.
We’ve also been inviting experts across fashion and tech industries onto our new short-form video series, Spilling the NFT, which is a blast. Together we work to demystify, educate, and inspire the world of fashion digital collectibles and web3. We are working to build a fashion community in this incredible new world with even greater self-expression. Building a new style of community and commerce is the goal — one that’s in the hands of the creators, not the monopolies.
3. What are the environmental and societal issues that Special Items is tackling and how?
Two major hitters here: physical garment waste and building a more equitable future for creatives.
Starting with the waste: the environmental impacts of physical fashion were the catalyst for starting this project. The amount of waste you see working in the physical fashion world is pretty crazy. Especially in a post-pandemic world, we really couldn’t justify the need to create so many more physical garments. We all believe in the idea of uniform dressing—with utility and purpose and protection. Garments should serve a purpose and be reused, repaired, and re-worn.
BUT, we get it—as stylists, we, too, got pretty bored and missed rotating a bunch of cool sh*t into our looks each season. So instead, integrating digital unlocks a new world for fashion consumers. It just might be something you don’t physically ever need – so that piece can remain in your digital wardrobe. This allows you to get the endorphins of shopping the seasonal trends and cool stuff without giving all of it to the thrift store after you one photographed wear.
Producing digital fashion vs physical fashion eliminates material waste, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 97%, eliminates issues of water contamination from fabric dyeing and growing crops. Not to mention the team are animal lovers… there absolutely isn’t a need for the majority of skins in circulation throughout luxury right now. We highly encourage everyone to look up how Crocodiles and Alligators are farmed for luxury goods. (Be warned—It’s not okay.)
Now on the social point: our goal is to open a more equitable future for creatives across the globe.
It’s pretty well known that the physical industry has a huge barrier to entry for creators. And without going down the whole thing, we know how difficult it is for deserving designers to be discovered amongst the maxed out algorithms and press. Not to mention, it’s impossible to become a profitable physical designer when all the department stores want you to ship on consignment. The physical industry has failed new creatives.
We are working to build a new commerce channel that can allow for creators (anywhere, without any formal backgrounds, schooling, or some flushed out resume with unpaid experiences) to join the party. We think it’s going to make the entire industry cooler.
We work directly with our designers to make sure we know their entire supply chain and production process so that we can support them fully – both digital and physical. With our digital designers, we will help their work to become interoperable by integrating AR or assisting with tokenization and smart contract elements. With physical designers—we aim to open another profitable channel for them to interact with their communities.
We strive to uplift and empower our partnering designers. We know investing in them will lead to higher-quality collections, access to fair wages for their team and foster high-quality, long-term relationships. We were pretty devastated to find out that some big players in the digital fashion realm were hustling our beloved designers, buying the rights to their collections. For us, if someone designs a piece or collection—it’s theirs forever.
Also, digital tailoring of our one-way wearables and NFTs is 100% inclusive! Individuals who find it hard to dress for their size and shape, those living with a disability, the LGBTQIA+ community, and anyone who wants to explore new modes of identity unrestrained by traditional roles, expectations, and limitations are welcome. And, we hope, empowered, by Special Items.
4. What is the concept of virtual identities, and how is digital fashion addressing it?
We see it pretty straightforward—it’s the digital representation of yourself online. Our digital identities are fast becoming as significant as one’s public persona. Our physical lives are becoming increasingly intertwined with our digital selves. Now, with the majority of work happening remotely and online, there’s a desire to expand one’s personality beyond a grid of square boxes in a meeting. There is a great need for customization of how you are able to present yourself online—and digital fashion is one of the ways you can begin to do so.
Fashion has always been a symbolizer for us – a way to externally present who we are. We think digital fashion not only helps on this base level, but it also aids in exploring identity. We like to see digital fashion as a tool for play and self-discovery.
5. Are virtual identities a generational thing?
Not exclusively, but generally speaking it seems the younger you are, the more time you’ve spent with an ‘online’ version of yourself. Luckily, the internet is becoming a lot more accessible and many generations are finding a place for their online identities in some way or another. We think having an online digital identity doesn’t just mean you game or have a super expensive avatar.
6. And how will businesses like yours safeguard against the harm that come with it?
The idea of having seamless virtual identities of oneself often sparks fear in people—probably because it’s still a bit unfamiliar. But for us, having worked with so many people with the motivation to build a better, more inclusive and sustainable space online, find it super optimistic with the opportunities available. The ability to create multiple online virtual identities to support existence in the many ‘multiverses’ that exist does have its downfalls. Bad vibes, unfortunately, find ways to sneak in.
That said, with this new world, we have to be mindful when building something from scratch. The digital space isn’t completely free from all normative beauty standards, for example. Humans build and collectively shape technology, so it is embedded with our unconscious biases, gender, language, and racial bias. So we’re doing our little part to shape it with as much empathy and open collaboration as we can.
As a fashion based company, we’re trying to help people express themselves visually. We think fashion does have the power to help people feel more connected to their identity. Hopefully this small part we’re playing in building what is to come will help people feel empowered.
7. How does Metatelier™ and your AR product offering come into play?
The Special Items Metatelier™ is our online fitting service of best-in-class digital tailors working to couture-fit clients’ or their avatars in their digital garments or gaming skins. There was a big disconnect between the amazing creations digital designers were putting out there and that quality being translated into imagery. People want to suspend disbelief with digital fashion, and high-quality digital tailoring is a huge part of this. Our Metatelier™ team does an incredible job at creating hypereal fits.
Our AR collections are the ways we provide immediacy and membership to our community via collectible fine jewellery and beauty looks in real time. Using a Snapchat lens, our collectors receive exclusive access to custom filters they can wear. Using the SnapCamera app, they can wear our pieces and makeup looks across many live-capture and video settings—like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.
The end of this month, we will release our inaugural collection and membership tokens in a series inspired by our solar system.
8. Talk us through the utility attached to your Fashion NFTs
There are many! To start, there is always unlimited fittings on collectibles minted at Special Items via the Metatelier™. All our wearables include a digital art piece storytelling the garment in a custom 360 environment made by the designer. Quite a few of our initial drop pieces integrated animated or “motion fabrics” in their garments. This allows the piece to move and evolve. Plus amazing private AR filters only for token holders.
9. Is there a cross-over between the digital and physical realms at Special Items?
Yes! We have been working with some physical designers and artists to transport their creations into the digital realm. Our Metatelier™ team specializes in digital craftsmanship and tailoring, creating custom replicas to enhance and extend the wearability of physical designs. This means in the future, a look could walk the runway and be available for digital wear immediately.
We are still building behind the screens, but we are working with physical designers to assist in the process to allow for runway pre-orders, basically opening up the ability for a pre-order model that delivers immediacy to the consumer post-show via digital assets and fittings. Meanwhile, the physical designer can collect the funds for their production up front. (Not to mention, our team are trained pattern makers who can assist with accurate fitting services to better assist with the couture physical garment creation.)
10. Who are the faces behind your brand?
This is where we are kind of shy…. But,
Britt, @itsbritterontop, is our founder and creative director and professional off tasker/small talker. She’s from LA.
Sally, @ohsallycinnamon_, is our Editorial director and what we like to call “word witch”. She’s from the bush of outside Perth, Australia.
Noré, @Nore_torres leads the Metatelier™ and is an insanely-talented pattern maker and dog mom who loves Pink Floyd. She hails from Saltillo, Mexico.
Alexa, @alexakusulase is our content guru and digital magician, has the best library of emojis and GIFs we’ve ever seen. She hails from Zacatecas, Mexico.
Kamala, @kamalaatak is our AR/VR master. She’s currently travelling in Turkey and Albania. She learned lenstudio over a single weekend.
Edited by GLITCH Team