It was just a couple months ago that I wrote primers on NFTs to help orient our audience around the crypto art wave. Today, Non-Fungible Tokens have gone mainstream, starring in Saturday Night Live skits, with celebrities like The Weeknd and Takashi Murakami partaking, and brand names like Funko and Taco Bell onboard. The music industry has been shaken, the art world has been tested, NFTs are growing so fast that they’ve already survived a couple cancel-culture cycles.
Yet, as forward and futuristic as this all is, NFTs are spiritually rooted in the decades-old cultural phenomenon of Streetwear. Consider how NFT marketplaces work on a Drop schedule, the Limited Edition nature of the goods, and the emphasis on secondary market resale. Every time I meet a leader in crypto art, they readily acknowledge how NFT practitioners are inspired by the collectability, coolness, and rarity of brands like Supreme, Off-White, and Nike.
Two of those pioneers were John Watkinson and Matt Hall, the “creative technologists” behind CryptoPunks: the very first NFT. In early 2017, Matt and John ran an experiment, assembling 10,000, 8-bit style, punk characters, each one of them with unique attributes. They gave them away for free, and for the most part, those images sat uneventfully online for a few years. In 2020, with the pandemic pushing us deeper into our phones, life in the metaverse started making a lot more sense, as did digital ownership. CryptoPunks exploded.
Today, those digital Punks are flipping for anywhere between $40,000 and $7.5 Million USD (!). Because there’s such a limited supply of these collectables, there’s all sorts of speculation. Some believe Punks will be the last NFT standing. There’s even a theory that the couple thousand Punk owners out there will one day be the richest in the world. On the ground level, Punks have been adopted as identities – oftentimes as a crypto collector’s avatar – if not a badge that says you’re a member of the NFT tribe.
Tomorrow (Sunday) night, The Hundreds is releasing a very special collaboration with CryptoPunks. Matt and John wished to keep it ultra-limited (50 hats for sale). They also wanted to make the actual Purple Hat (a trending, trademark Punks attribute). And for whatever reason, they requested we stick to the Zombie (instead of the Alien, Gorilla, or a straight-up Punk). This snap-back embodies many firsts: their first collab, our first time working with a crypto artist… It also bridges the physical collector’s space and the crypto world. To me, it brings NFTs and Streetwear full circle. And The Hundreds is right there, in the center of it all.