Interview with Akihiro "Wazzy" Wajima on Web 3.0 and NFT
Part 3: PFP Is the Culture To Watch Right Now
The final part of a short series of interviews exploring the relationship between NFT, Web 3.0 and fashion. The expanding metaverse and the profile picture (PFP) will attract even more attention in the future.
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.
Will NIKE create a metaverse?
- Various companies and brands are now trying to get into the metaverse. Is this part of the trend towards globalisation?
W: I think running a global business now is easier in some ways, but it's also a tough time. Viruses like Covid are sure to be found again. If Shanghai goes on lockdown, delivery of Japanese brands will be delayed by two months. Ukraine and Russia went to war, and then brands left. There are too many unpredictable factors in the real world, so the risks are huge.
- That’s true.
W: But in the digital world, there is basically no concept of country, despite time differences and language issues, so the concept of local or global no longer exists anymore. That's why there is a trend towards doing business in the metaverse.
- I see. So the move towards the metaverse is inevitable then.
W: There will probably be three or four metaverses that will dominate the next ten or twenty years, and they are currently competing. And it's said that one of them is going to be NIKE.
- Metaverse by NIKE?
W: SNKRS is a private e-commerce platform, but if NIKE launches its own metaverse with more game-like and entertaining content, it will be a complete experiential e-commerce platform. It's a sense of interacting with the brand. I think that buying sneakers and other fashion products will become just an optional part of the future fashion business. I’m expecting NIKE will launch its own metaverse by the end of this year or next year.
Why NFT Rejuvenates Brands?
- In the future, it will be standard for fashion brands to sell real things, but it looks like they will also do things on the metaverse at the same time.
W: I think the challenge for fashion brands will be to reach out to the teenage and 20s segment, and metaverse will be a key. This is because the problem for many brands is 'rejuvenation'. Brands are replaced every 30 years or so. Right now, the brands coming out of Web 3.0 are appealing to the younger generation. There is a gap in the sense that they wouldn't think NFT, released from a brand worn by older generations, is cool. So if brands don't start doing metaverse and NFT, it will be difficult to rejuvenate, and on the other hand, if they can do that, they might be able to rejuvenate themselves.
- Do you mean like, you play in the metaverse and you buy clothes for your avatar, plus, you'll receive sneakers in real life, too?
W: Yes, I think that owning NFT and real items at the same time will become part of fashion in the future.
The Age of PFP Collectibles Is Coming
- What are the next steps for KREATION and Wazzy-san in the future?
W: We are working with a retailer to open a crypto-fashion store called THE HOUSE OF INSOMNIA in September, and we are also working on collaborations with three brands, all based on PFP.
- What is PFP?
W: It means Picture for Proof which is a profile picture in the Web 3.0 era where anonymity is important, and it is necessary no matter how far you go as PFP becomes the individual symbol on social media. I believe that using a selfie as a PFP will be lame in the Web 3.0 era and that owning a few PFPs and changing them to match your mood will become part of the next fashion trend. Our company's vision is to drive this culture.
- What do people use PFP for?
W: For example, they can be used as skins for VTubers or avatars for games, but the main focus is on Twitter. In the US and other countries, Twitter has started a service where the icon shape changes from a circle to a hexagon when using the NFT PFP, and this will eventually be introduced in Japan as well. In the future, a common platform for Instagram, Weibo and all others will follow, and if this happens, it will expand rapidly.
- It doesn't really hit me yet, but I guess that's what Web 3.0 is going towards, and that's symbolic of where anonymity leads.
W: This will become a form of personal self-expression, and the choice of what kind of PFP you select will become a fashion. People who use the Bored Ape Yacht Club's NFT as their PFP are smug because it is a form of self-expression and expresses 'I belong to this community'. This is very similar to fashion. In the end, fashion is what captures the era of the times, and clothes are just a secondary thing.
- In a different form, but you’re saying PFP can also be a part of fashion?
W: We rather think of NFT as a new culture. Within the culture, there are creators, music, art and real products. We think that the way to drive the culture is to package the whole thing, so we are thinking of giving real things as extras to people who buy PFP first.
- Would you say HOUSE OF INSOMNIA is more of a store rather than a brand?
W: It's both, and it's like KITH. KITH does buying but it’s also a brand. We also sell the PFPs we buy and do collaborations with various creators. We are in the process of educating people that NFT should be as simple as that.
- I will keep an eye on it.
W: We haven't gained much recognition yet, so we've made House of Insomnia stickers and were handing them out to cool skaters in Komazawa Park, but we're still at the stage where people say, "What's metaverse, Wazzy-san?" (laughs). I think we still have a long way to go.
- I like the fact that you talk about Metaverse and NFT, but give away the stickers in real life (laughs).
I met Wazzy-san when I was working for HYPEBEAST JAPAN about two years ago. When I first met him, I was impressed that he said, "I will spend the rest of my life in the fashion industry". Wazzy-san is currently trying to bring the concepts of NFT and Web 3.0 to the Japanese fashion scene, and he actually talked about it when drinking together many times, but I offered to interview him because I thought no one could talk about this phenomenon as clearly as he could at this point. I would be happy if people like myself who thought, "I don't know anything about NFT and Web 3.0" could read this. (Takei)