As we join together and embark on this unprecedented future of a post-present-post-pandemic lifestyle mixed alongside global unrest and climate emergencies— it is clear that we need to move forward in a way that better serves our collective future. Consumers are looking towards inventive and creative ways in which brands can integrate technology and build access into our everyday products, while putting a focus on innovative sustainability and interactive community development. Key buzzwords such as NFT, web3, and blockchain continue to rapidly grow alongside our budding curiosity, as we learn how we can utilize these emerging technologies and take steps to create smarter products in order to reach this expanding market of informed consumers. Looking at these digital advancements through a lens of forward-thinking sustainability, we are able to thoughtfully combine these worlds into a landscape of possibility and purpose—planting the seeds of virtual “growth” and radical eco-optimism.
How To (Re)Connect
With NFTs straddling the line between gimmicky and enterprising, we find ourselves at the cusp of what can be achieved when looking beyond an initial collectible token—allowing an opportunity to transpire in the midst of digital wallet connections and gif-spinning visuals. Brands are taking on a new wave of interest, offering an updated level of purchasing power that leverages a collaborative voice and interactive community in addition to ownership of real, tangible products. No longer acting as passive consumers, this new approach to purchasing creates an opportunity for deeper engagement by extending a members-only platform, where loyalists can participate in design direction and future product development, earn access to exclusive digital perks and IRL events, as well as cultivating and growing a like-minded community. By sharing the mic, brands are able to tap into the minds (and voices) of their worldwide members as they collaborate and build as a collective team.
Looking outward into the unexplored space of web3 technology, it is no wonder that it attracts forward-thinking minds from the active and outdoor community—as exploration and achieving the unthinkable lie at the very core of these adventure-ready worlds. For Ty Haney, the founder of athleisure-darling Outdoor Voices and more recently, CBD/THC sport energetics company Joggy, moving towards a more community-focused platform was an obvious step forward. Her latest venture, Try Your Best, is a user-friendly approach to web3—aimed at those who are social media savvy but perhaps still trying to grasp the idea of blockchain-based platforms and crypto purchasing. By moving brand attention to a decentralized space, Try Your Best aims to push forward the future of direct-to-consumer shopping while recovering control over building relationships and customer engagement by removing the need for traditional algorithm-regulated social marketing. A feeling of co-creation emerges on the TYB blockchain, where consumers digitally team up with their favorite brands, being rewarded through NFTs and tokens in exchange for virtual engagement such as product feedback and sharing with friends. On Haney’s platform, the connection that is formed between products and consumers continues to grow and evolve past an initial click—creating a synergistic partnership of shared value and boundless collaboration.
A New Explore Page
Finding groups that make us feel seen while celebrating our collective motivation and passion is at the heart of every great community. We look to others for inspiration and elevation—challenging our limitations as we work together towards a common goal. In the active and outdoor communities, we champion groups that celebrate diversity and push for wider inclusivity, allowing these spaces to become more open for all to discover. This same mentality is being rethought and restructured, with digital communities and outdoor spaces taking on a new connection of grassroot-inspired determination. Brands such as Paris-based but remotely-built Early Majority, offer a glimpse into the future of how the outdoor world can integrate NFT technology alongside designs that promote a “degrowth” approach to the fashion industry. Founder Joy Howard, who counts VP of global marketing at Patagonia as one of her former roles, is determined to disrupt the system through highly versatile designs that favor functionality and community. By creating a membership-based system, the purchases include expandable benefits such as outdoor events, collective product-swaps, and an active voice in future product development and design. Utilizing web3 offers actual ownership, with a DAO ( Decentralized Autonomous Organization) centered focus to help shape the brand’s purpose as the membership base continues to grow and diversify alongside new voices and ideas. The team at Early Majority has also created interchangeable Member Badge NFTs, which offers the holder lifetime access as well as an opportunity to swap the badges in support of various activist-minded foundations, inclusive outdoor groups, and unique artists—allowing the digital designs to forge supportive and meaningful connections. Encouraging more human-centric interactions with digital roots, companies such as Outside.io are also exploring how to motivate movement and outdoor experiences through technology. Their mission as an NFT marketplace is to promote more time outside, by teaming up with top athletes, emerging artists, and inspirational leaders in the field—to offer rewards and benefits that grow as you explore the outdoors, protect the planet, and create a deeper connection to community.
With climate anxiety prompting us to question more and settle for less, consumers are putting sustainability-focused needs at the forefront of product design and favoring brands that exemplify eco-consciousness from the inside out. At FS, we continue to track and highlight sustainable innovations throughout the active and outdoor markets—with overarching product shifts such as “made to be disassembled” and cultivated nature offering emerging insight into updates regarding organic fabrications and circular (re)design. While NFTs, web3, and blockchain technology generate valid questions regarding their environmental impacts, many platforms are applying their future-focused ethos towards the digital realms with carbon-neutral, carbon-capturing, and carbon-negative effects. Companies such as Eco Labs work with brands to ensure NFT collections and web3 activity is verifiably sustainable, by putting a focus on eco-regeneration and protected biodiversity to offset environmental impacts and digital footprints. With consumers looking for deeper information regarding their purchases, blockchain platforms can offer greater opportunities for extensive data and open source intelligence to ensure fully traceable shopping experiences. Wider knowledge brings forth a larger, more comprehensive tag that moves from fabric seams onto our digital screens—allowing complete transparency throughout the product lifecycle from supply chain to recycling process, and everywhere in between.
As technology continues to grow, so does our desire to make a difference in the world around us. We are aware of the current climate emergency and the power that each one of us has when it comes to purchasing and creating products with a greater purpose. Sustainability and collective diversity are two driving factors surrounding the future of active and outdoor product design, with web3, NFTs, and blockchain platforms offering a forward-thinking approach to motivate and direct us towards eco-optimistic opportunities. Looking at these digital innovations as a disruptive tool—and not a means to an end— offers the possibility for us to become better informed, and more sustainable future ancestors of tomorrow.