NFC chips have become standard practice for connecting physical items to the blockchain. Now LTD.INC is taking the technology a step further, offering collectors unique experiences alongside their physical and digital goods. Randy Ginsburg speaks to LTD.INC CEO Daryl Kelly about what blockchain means for the future of consumer culture.
Like many others, when Daryl Kelly was introduced to Bitcoin in 2016, his first impression was one of scepticism and distrust. But after revisiting the concept a few months later, things finally began to click. A former luxury real estate executive, he soon realised how digital scarcity would transform the future of ownership in both the physical world and across virtual ones. Down the rabbit hole he went, dedicating the bulk of his waking hours to learning the ins and outs of blockchain technology.
In 2020 he started the Bitcoin Movement, one of the first companies to integrate blockchain technology into a streetwear collection using Near Field Communication (NFC). In its first collaboration with Zuby, the UK rapper, Bitcoin Movement sold 300 hats and t-shirts, each embedded with an NFC chip that, when scanned, connected the physical product to a transaction ID on the blockchain.
The customer response being promising, Bitcoin Movement's proof of concept helped Daryl realise that the potential for blockchain-powered products extended far beyond Bitcoin. With that, LTD.INC was born, partnering with top-tier creators, brands, and artists to create physical and digital NFT experiences. From fine art prints to couture denim, each physical product contains an embedded NFC chip connected to a unique digital twin recorded immutably on the blockchain, and accessibly presented to consumers via LTD.INC’s app.
“It turned a piece of clothing into a delivery mechanism for music.”
— Daryl Kelly
This provides much more than proof of ownership. The true advantage of digitally-native physical fashion is that it opens up new opportunities for brands to engage their customers. It creates a new avenue for deeper, more immersive brand storytelling through exclusive content like artist interviews, unreleased footage, 3D files, and other exclusive opportunities.
Earlier this month, LTD.INC teamed up with web3 musician Ape Rave Club (ARC) to release 100 limited edition hoodies, each embedded with an LTD.INC NFC chip. When scanned, the chip reveals an unreleased track from the artist. From that position, Daryl says, there is potentially the opportunity for holders to remix, monetise, and sample their IP.
“This one was really interesting for us because it turned a piece of clothing into a delivery mechanism for music,” Daryl recalls. While certain clients handle the physical production in-house, many artists rely on LTD.INC’s product development expertise, from conception and IP creation to manufacturing and rollout. To date, LTD.INC has partnered with top brands in web3 and beyond, including a collaboration between the Wrangler Jeans and the NFT collection, Deadfellaz, other web3 artists like Guido Di Salle and PixelMap, one of the oldest NFT collections, as well as mainstream brands and individuals, like the singer Leon Bridges and the late photographer Chi Modu.
“We’re really careful about who we collaborate with. We care deeply about crafting really interesting, creative stories, and breaking some rules while doing so,” he explains with a smile. “All of our partners are aligned in pushing the boundaries with each one of our products. We’ve got toys, music, art, and fashion, and we push the boundaries in all of them.”
But there’s one “rule” that LTD.INC refuses to break: mandating creator royalties. Amidst swirling controversy around top marketplaces like OpenSea no longer enforcing creator royalties, LTD.INC is doubling down on the mechanism: each product drop is built with preserving royalties in mind. LTD.INC’s smart contracts let artists receive royalties on the secondary sales of their physical prints, a first in the traditional fashion world.
“We care deeply about crafting really interesting, creative stories.”
— Daryl Kelly
And this is only the beginning. As for what’s to come, Daryl sees mainstream adoption as an inevitability. “In the next five to ten years, kids won't be buying products unless they're scanning them and interacting with them, verifying their authenticity, downloading a digital wearable, and running around with it in their favourite game.”
Today, the state of metaverse experiences is similar to that of mobile phones in the early 2000s, with their antennas and chunky frames.
“We said it needs to be smaller, quicker, cheaper, and more accessible. The same applies here,” he says. Innovation follows use, and services like LTD.INC are well on their way. “It will take time for the UX and UI to improve and for the integration of physical products within the metaverse to become more seamless. But it is the next version of the internet.”
“In the next five to ten years, kids won't be buying products unless they're scanning them and interacting with them.”
— Daryl Kelly
Randy is the founder of Digital Fashion Daily and Third Wall Creative, a web3 marketing agency. Straddling the worlds of retail and emerging technology, Randy has worked with many companies including nft now, Shopify, and Touchcast to create compelling and educational web3 content. Previously, Randy worked at Bombas, developing the most comfortable socks in the history of feet.
Trevor Jones, a traditional painter and cryptoart leader, is a longstanding believer in technology's ability to enhance the experience of viewing art. But as well as enabling his medium, technology makes up one of the artist's key subject matters as he highlights the driving forces of change in the contemporary world at the intersection of art and tech.
With any groundbreaking technology, there are widespread ethical and safety risks. Randy Ginsburg explores how AI deepfakes are shaking up the marketing industry, what brands need to do to be prepared, and why consumers need to second guess the adverts they engage with.
A new artistic vanguard is taking shape, and DeltaSauce is at the heart of it. The Texan artist’s quietly meditative works have elevated him as an essential voice in the burgeoning AI art movement. He speaks to Signal about the parallels between woodworking and AI prompts, the meaning behind his art, and why relationships are the foundation of his career. Clovis McEvoy tells the story.