Philipp Plein has launched a Web 3.0 crypto concept store on London’s Old Bond Street and a free and independent NFT trading platform online.
Whereas many other luxury brands are intent on creating exclusive Metaverse communities of Web 3.0 native Gen-Zers with entry policies often as obtuse as those of an elite U.S. college fraternity, Plein takes a diametrically different approach.
His objective is to convert normal people — not least his 67 year old mother — to the world of cryptocurrency and NFTs by making them accessible. Because, at the end of the day, Web 3.0 is a numbers game.
He sees huge potential in the Metaverse — “it’s the future of the internet” — but is well aware that, just like e-commerce 25 years ago, it will only be successful once it is widely adopted. So while he wants to attract consumers to his own platforms, he’s also set on driving the market forward by on-boarding as many converts as possible.
Plein’s new four story London flagship involves three floors of accessories and ready-to-wear topped off by a NFT art gallery, dubbed The MoNA, (Museum of NFT Art) showcasing the NFT collection realized by Plein’s CryptoKing$ collective with creator Antoni Tudisco plus the physical ‘Lil Monster sculptures claimed by collectors of the series earlier this year.
For the consumer Plein’s new flagship also serves as a Metaverse information center with staff on hand for tutorials in setting up a digital wallet and navigating the process of buying NFTs and digital fashion — just like a Web 3.0 ‘Genius Bar’ in fact.
The new London crypto concept flagship accepts payment for physical goods in 24 different cryptocurrencies. Exchange rates are accessible in real time via a QR code on each product.
This service, launched yesterday in London, will subsequently roll out to Plein’s 100 odd stores worldwide. Although Plein has been offering crypto payment as an option since August last year, the QR code system hugely simplifies the process.
“It’s a revolution,” he says. “I’m the smallest brand here on the street — my neighbors are Cartier and Valentino, billion dollar brands, but they’re not accepting crypto on their websites or in their stores. They’re still wondering how to do it but this is an easy solution.”
If you want to refund your purchase you can do this either in the Fiat currency of the country you bought in or in crypto — according to the exchange rate on day of the return.
When it comes to NFT ownership, Plein’s aim is to normalize that process too, encouraging regular people to become collectors. To this end, he’s giving NFTs away for free with his physical products which is also a clever way of extending his customer database.
By September, he says, 30% of his products will be automatically linked to an NFT which customers can either keep or resell on the secondary market.
And if refuseniks are still wondering what to do with said NFT, Plein’s got that covered as well. He plans to sell hardware frames in a range of different sizes so customers can upload their NFTs and display them in their home.
Similarly, the idea behind Plein’s NFT marketplace is to remove obstacles to purchase. Unlike market leaders such as Opensea, it offers credit card and Apple
Furthermore, everything is included in the payment price and there are no separate gas fees. Gas fees are the additional transaction charges purchasers pay when buying an NFT. These can vary widely.
Plein equates such fees to delivery charges on physical goods. Even a $10 delivery charge can present an obstacle to a regular e-commerce sale, he says, so likewise, “many people aren’t comfortable buying NFTs because of the gas fees.”
The marketplace won’t just sell Plein’s own NFTs though. It will also serve as an independent platform for NFT artists to whom Plein is offering major incentives — not least the fact that he’s not charging them a commission free.
The goal, he says, is “to create a community of users” like Instagram or Facebook. “In a year or two, once we have a substantial community we might start asking for a service charge but if you’re profit driven in the beginning you can make the wrong decisions.”
In addition to providing a sales platform, Plein’s new marketplace will serve as a one stop shop for those looking to enter the Web 3.0 space as vendors. It will offer training services in how to mint NFT projects plus produce marketing materials and smart contracts, give access to analytics, and offer advice regarding royalties both from initial mint and secondary sales.
For the physical store launch he tapped buzzy British Jamaican rapper Stefflon Don to perform and her set was live streamed into a virtual event hosted in the Decentraland
Plein Plaza is home to a virtual MoNA that links up to his NFT marketplace. In the future he’s planning further physical MoNAs across his store network.
“Philipp Plein in a small but healthy independent company but we are not LVMH or Kering,” acknowledges Plein. “So we have to be different. My success is built on being different and adding value and being faster whenever I see the opportunity.”