Interview with Akihiro "Wazzy" Wajima on Web 3.0 and NFT
Part 2: The Worlds of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0
This is the second in a series of short articles delving into the relationship between NFT, Web 3.0 and fashion. This time, we will discuss the present and future of Web 3.0 and fashion NFT.
Interview & Text Yukihisa Takei
Photo Kiyotaka Hatanaka
Hiroaki “Wazzy” Wajima
Born 1974 in Tokyo, Japan, he is President (COO / FOUNDER) of KREATION, Inc. After graduating from the School of Architecture at Arizona State University, USA, he worked for an advertising agency, The SAZABY LEAGUE and Rakuten before launching Farfetch Japan in 2014. After his role as president of HYPEBEAST JAPAN's Japanese subsidiary, he launched KREATION, Inc. in 2021. He is highly knowledgeable in men's fashion, NFT and Web 3.0.
The World of Web 2.5 Comes Before Web 3.0?
- I often hear comments like "Everything will be Web 3.0 soon!” but what's your thought on this?
W: No, it won't come that fast (laughs). I believe that before we go from the Web 2.0 world to the 3.0 world, there will be the Web 2.5 world. Over the next 10 or 15 years, I think we're entering an era where new and old technologies will coexist alongside each other. We may have retired by the time it reaches a complete Web 3.0 (laughs).
- You think it would take some time. Then can you tell us about the difference between Web 2.0 and 3.0 to begin with?
W: To give you a brief idea, only a few large corporations are holding personal data and black-boxing it in the world of Web 2.0.
- That's what GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook=Meta, Apple) and others do.
W: Exactly. It's a common business philosophy that they don't pass on customer information that they have taken by themselves. On the contrary, Web 3.0 doesn't hold personal information but makes it a joint asset and puts it inside the Web 3.0 space. So, it's a Web 2.0 way of thinking that Fortnite uses only in-house creators and shares profits internally.
- They corral the market.
W: It is centralised. Centralisation is said to be the final form of capitalism, where the top 10 per cent can make a huge profit, while the 90 per cent will never make enough money and no fresh ideas will emerge. So those who say, " Web 3.0 is the future!” are against the old system. The innovation of the NFT and blockchain was a boost to this.
- So it's a small revolution.
W: Indeed, Web 3.0 is a world where you can work and get paid even if you don't belong to a company, so it's an age where the 'individual' is even more important. And since Web 3.0 is based on the principle of "not keeping personal information", anonymity becomes more important than ever. The importance of avatars will change as a tool for recognising individuals in a highly anonymous environment.
Anonymity Is A Key In the World of Web 3.0
- But why is anonymity so important?
W: Because there is also a crazy amount of phishing and scams. So it's not a Web 3.0 thing that you take a selfie and post it on Twitter.
- It's really the world of The Matrix. The avatars can even make money in the metaverse.
W: Yes, that's right. In fact, it has already started. There are currently six business partners in KREATION somewhere in the world, but we have never met each other and we don't even know our real names. And the fees are paid in Ethereum.
- So that's already happening.
W: In fact, some of BALENCIAGA's and GUCCI's US stores now accept payments in Ethereum, and Shopify and others will increasingly support cryptocurrency in the future. If people can use cryptocurrency at existing fashion e-commerce websites, that's already Web 2.5.
Fashion NFT Today
- There is an increasing number of people in the fashion industry who are more or less aware of NFT and Web 3.0.
W: More and more fashion brands started getting involved. There are more and more cases, such as Hiroshi Fujiwara-san's NFT with Mark Gonzalez, AMBUSH®, KITH and BAPE®, and atmos teaming up with HYPEBEAST. Among them, I think the AMBUSH's POW! NFT is one of the successful examples.
- Brands with iconic designs are ahead of the market. On the other hand, brands that focus on materials and silhouettes seem to have less affinity with NFT.
W: Yes, that's true. So what is going to be important is matching with graphic artists and illustrators. The focus is on how to build the mood and community of the brand.
- AMBUSH® is considered to be a successful brand entering into NFT and Web 3.0. They launched an NFT ring that they had already released in the real world, but what was the reason for its success?
W: I think they're good at keeping the community hyped. Building a community is at the heart of the brand, it's like a membership card. AMBUSH® is working very hard to boost the community, such as by offering access to their exclusive events. But if they stop doing that, NFT will be dead.
- But as Hiroshi Fujiwara-san said, "people don't need to buy NFT if they don't need it", I guess that hasn't changed. But in the future, the sense may change and people might feel like "I was gonna buy these sneakers, but if they don't come with NFT, I won't".
W: Yes, people would be like ‘I won't buy stuff just in real'. NIKE and other sports brands are surely aiming for that. Digital never deteriorates, you can keep it forever, you can give it as a gift, and you don't have to ship it by post. That's the way NFT is supposed to be like enjoying casual ownership, but the current investment purpose is a completely different group. The current situation is that there are two types of people: those who genuinely like fashion and new things, and those who like to own them.
(Continued in Part 3)