It was Coco Chanel who once said,
"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."
And now with the launch of MNTGE, vintage fashion lives on blockchain too.
Founded by Nick Adler, Sean Wotherspoon, and Brennan Russo, MNTGE offers users the opportunity to access and collect rare and authentic vintage items in both the physical and digital world through state-of-the-art digitization and exclusive partnerships.
With drop calendars featuring virtual collections created in collaboration with top designers, artists, and Web3 visionaries, MNTGE aims to foster a vibrant community of collectors and enthusiasts who are passionate about preserving and showcasing vintage clothing, streetwear, and fashion.
In our conversation with Adler and Russo, we delve into the exciting possibilities that MNTGE strives to provide to the world of fashion and NFTs, and how it is keeping the spirit of innovation and style alive in a digital age.
Where did the idea of MNTGE come from?
NICK ADLER (NA): It started about a year and a half ago, where I found myself stopping by Sean’s retail store Round 2 during the pandemic. We all know that the pandemic was really tough, but I saw so many people, of all ages and all walks of life, bustling around in the store buying US$100-500 t-shirts left and right. They were Madonna tees, Michael Jordan tees, Def Leppard tees — things of that nature. Sean broke the vintage game down to me and has made a series of predictions that are now true today.
I then asked Sean how much one of those tees up on the wall cost and he said, “US$2,000. It’ll be gone by the end of the day.” When he said that, my jaw dropped – but I started to understand when he began explaining the reason behind the price tag: the details and history on the t-shirt, the fading over the years, the graphic, the tag…all of that gave it worth and validity. And all of these people understood that, hence they were buying it.
A lightbulb went off in my head and thought it would be amazing if we could somehow combine vintage and rare wearables with Web3 to produce something completely different, something where people could have true digital ownership. Brennan, Sean, and I knew each other from past projects and knew about each other’s work and shared the same enthusiasm around Web3 and the digital space. So we all got aligned on the idea, said “let’s do it,” and here we are a year and half later – finally launching MNTGE.
In contrast to conventional digital wearables drops, the positioning of MNTGE is quite novel — can you share more about how the platform will translate or encapsulate the essence of a vintage item when it is represented in a digital space?
BRENNAN RUSSO (BR): Well it was really vital to us that we don’t just create another digital wearable – it’s been done before. We wanted to capture the true essence of the vintage garment as close to the actual as possible, a digital twin of the physical, if you will. Sean, a co-founder of MNTGE and prolific vintage collector/fashion designer, has been guiding us visually, aesthetically, and really drives the vision of the brand.
Part of Sean’s mission was to make sure that we’re scanning every little detail as meticulously as possible, down to the threads, stitches, and buttons. A true digital version of the vintage garment. Vintage clothing has such an incredible heritage, story, and history – it was important for us to be able to track these items and give them “a digital receipt” that people can collect and trade, that could match those items in the physical world – or even be separated from those items in Web3.
Many iconic vintage items came from well-established brands, such as Nike’s Cortez or Levi’s 501, in this case, do the digital collections of MNTGE require liaising with various brands for IPs or copyrights appropriation?
NA: Since we’re working with vintage garments, we understand that we have to work with potential brand rights, etc. and that’s something that we’re constantly working through. Fortunately, the three of us all come from a strong background of working with many big brands so we are able to navigate those conversations with them in the right way. Right now, we’re mainly working with hand-made 1-of-1 vintage garments and quality vintage is sometimes, not always branded. To be frank, we are navigating everything on a case by case basis before we release anything digitally. We see the precedent set over time, but I don’t know if that precedent has been set just yet.
Whether it be in Fortnite or NBA 2K, the goal is to eventually be able to represent yourself authentically in the digital world, in the same way that you represent yourself in the physical world.
Safe to say, the defining feature of a vintage item is the wear-and-tear, scratches, or the faded hues that come with its age. Will the appearance of the collectibles evolve over time in the digital space?
BR: We've paid attention to all of those little details that make vintage so great — the perfect fade, the way a graphic print has cracked in the perfect spot, the stitches hand done by someone maybe a hundred years ago — and we’ve made sure that all of those details are captured and preserved in the digital wearables. As far as evolving, we have the best in-class design team and will be working with them to create a dynamic digital piece through Web3.
Will interoperability in the Web3 space play a part in the platform’s future plans? Say, will we see a character rocking a pair of vintage 501 with a Suzuki RG500 in The Sandbox?
NA: The goal is to eventually be interoperable in Web3 games, metaverses and traditional video games that we know and love, as well as to truly offer the full vintage wearable experience in the digital space.
Funny you highlight The Sandbox because we are thinking about how to turn our high end items into detailed voxel assets - we have a design team to think through how to work with different platforms. It’s all a bespoke process.
I’ve also worked with some of these gaming companies and have played a part in bringing some celebrity figures to life, whether it be in Fortnite or NBA 2K, the goal is to eventually be able to represent yourself authentically in the digital world, in the same way that you represent yourself in the physical world.
Speaking of Sean’s first digital drop with MNTGE, will it be paired with a matching physical item?
BR: Yes. Sean’s drop will be based around coveted vintage garments that he has in his private archives that have not been shown before. The pieces that excite Sean the most, are included in his first drop. One of the pieces in his collection is a vintage denim trucker jacket, dating back to the early 1970s that has these crazy rips, stitches, tears, patches, and embellishments. And you just know that this can’t be re-made or replicated. And honestly, we don't think it would ever see light outside of Sean’s inner circle, because it holds that much value to him that he’s kept it close. So for this piece to be now digitized in this way, and available to so many people who are interested in this space, it’s just awesome to see and to build this community around MNTGE.
At this stage, what are the platforms that offer compatibility for MNTGE digital wearables?
NA: Compatibility is in development. The team is working directly with a number of Metaverse and PFP projects for integration. We’re also working with the Non-Fungible Labs team to integrate it into their Web3 ecosystem. It’s a really exciting time for us and definitely more to come there.