The luxury world’s adoption of cryptocurrency has been gathering momentum over the last couple of years, with brands like Philipp Plein leading the way when it comes to fashion with the opening of a first-of-its-kind ‘crypto concept store’ in London. But when it comes to transactions in Bitcoin, Ethereum and the like, Gucci is one step ahead of the game, with around 70 per cent of its full, directly operated stores now accepting digital currency payments and the remainder soon expected to follow suit.
And it’s not just surging ahead in the numbers game; in fact, it was the first high-end fashion brand to begin accepting cryptocurrency as a means of payment for its luxury goods in the first place. A move that was perhaps unsurprising given its wealthy customer base and the growing ease of investing in crypto through platforms like the Bitcoin Motion App, it has paved the way for a whole new era of shopping and sourcing opulent designer clothing and accessories, with its competitors scrambling to keep up so as not to become irrelevant in the digital age.
This week, the brand broke down even more barriers by expanding the number of cryptocurrencies it accepts. Gone are the days when it was Bitcoin or nothing, and now, there are 12 different options for buyers to choose from to reflect the growth within the crypto space and the increasing interest in so-called ‘alt-coins’ – in other words, any coin that is not original big hitter and market leader, Bitcoin itself.
Now, the lineup includes ApeCoin – making Gucci the first to embrace it – as well as Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Wrapped Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Shiba Inu. Add to that five USD-pegged stablecoins – namely GUSD, USDC, USDP, DAI and BUSD, and it’s one of the most diverse lineups we’ve seen in the luxury fashion world to date.
Still, there’s a long way to go before brands like Gucci swap to accepting only cryptocurrency. Despite being a high-end fashion house, its customer base is diverse and not limited to crypto traders and holders alone, so making the move could alienate many buyers. And, when it has worked so hard to connect with a new generation of young fashionistas, it might not be the right time to do so just yet.
Still, that hasn’t stopped The Crypto Emporium, which opened its doors as the world’s first crypto-only luxury store back in 2018 and has been going from strength to strength ever since.
Where the majority of luxury retailers offering transactions in cryptocurrency would use an intermediary to convert that digital money back into fiat currency – like British pounds or American dollars – The Crypto Emporium serves as an intermediary marketplace through which affluent crypto holders and traders can buy and sell luxury goods anonymously. In doing so, they save up to 15 percent when compared with making the same transactions – and given that the marketplace spans everything from high-end fashion to technology, luxury property, supercars and even yachts, it’s a unique offering that many elite buyers have been waiting for.
Granted, it isn’t a store that limits itself to fashion alone, and it’s a rather different business model – but it could well exemplify the future for brands like Gucci in the long-term. It’s clear that there’s huge potential for growth and development when it comes to crypto, and with the advent of the metaverse on the horizon, it’s likely the surprises will keep on coming.
We’ve already seen a nod to what’s possible in the shape of Plein’s innovative crypto concept store, which, as well as allowing customers to shop for its ready-to-wear goods in several different digital currencies, is home to a unique and forward-thinking NFT art gallery, where affluent big spenders can also get their hands on one-of-a-kind artworks and fashion creations to add to their ever growing investment portfolios.
As the digital world continues to gather pace, it’s becoming impossible to predict quite what’s around the next corner – but one thing we can expect is the likes of Gucci and Plein to continue leading the pack, and setting the pace for other competing brands to follow.
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