Balmain Shapes the Future of Fashion with Phygital Sneakers

Balmain Shapes the Future of Fashion with Phygital Sneakers

Space Runners, a digital fashion brand, partnered with French luxury brand Balmain to launch exclusive Unicorn sneakers, combining physical and digital dimensions in the world of fashion.

Both companies aimed to push the boundaries of fashion with limited-edition sneaker linked to a unique Balmain x Space Runners Unicorn NFT.

  • Exclusive Unicorn Sneakers: The collaboration between Space Runners and Balmain featured the Unicorn sneaker, designed by Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing, blending mystical elements with modern style.
  • NFT Integration: Each limited-edition Unicorn sneaker was linked to a unique Balmain x Space Runners Unicorn NFT, which was available for purchase through Balmain's website.
Balmain x Space Runners: Bridging Physical and Digital Fashion, With NFTs

Space Runners is the first “Interactive M-Commerce platform building a gamified fashion experience and virtual wearables, interoperable across metaverse environments”. They aim to enable users to express their unique identities through digital fashion and gamify the shopping experience.

Their first drop – GEN1 – sold out in 9 minutes for $8M and ranked #1 on Solana. It also featured familiar faces from NBA, Kyle Kuzma and Nick Young, along with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Paul Brothers, and more.

After this success, Space Runners decided to double down on partnering with brands to gamify the commerce experience by bringing it into the digital world. Now, they’re focusing on 1) offering scalable design solutions for fashion brands, and 2) creating an engaging virtual shopping environment.

In their most recent drop, Space Runners recently partnered with luxury fashion brand Balmain for a limited edition NFT sale.

As part of this drop, customers would get access to the “Unicorn Bundle”:

  • Exclusive Unicorn Sneakers: One of Balmain’s most iconic sneakers, in limited edition colorways, designed by Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing
  • NFT Integration: Each limited-edition Unicorn sneaker will be linked to a unique Balmain x Space Runners Unicorn NFT

Balmain & Space Runners used thirdweb Checkout to enable customers to pay with just a credit card (or crypto) — resulting in higher conversion rates & increased revenue.

Creating a Seamless NFT Commerce Experience for People Unfamiliar With Crypto

The Challenges

Space Runners’ partnership with Balmain create two unique challenges:

  1. Many of Balmain’s customers are unfamiliar with crypto. Balmain is a luxury fashion house. And many of their customers are unfamiliar with crypto. They do not own any crypto, NFTs, or even have crypto wallets. Balmain needed a way to ensure their existing audience could still participate in the drop, despite their lack of crypto expertise.
  2. Balmain’s customers are from around the world. Balmain is a global fashion brand, located in France. This meant that many potential customers did not speak English or English was not their primary language. As NFTs and crypto can be confusing, Balmain needed a way for their customers to understand precisely what was happening throughout the buying process so that they could feel at ease.

The Solutions

1. Fiat on-ramp for NFTs

To solve the problem of Balmain’s customers being unfamiliar with crypto, Space Runners and Balmain decided to offer the option to accept payments in ETH and via credit card.

They used thirdweb's NFT Checkout product to do this, which allows you to accept different cryptocurrencies, credit cards, Apple Pay, or Google Pay for NFTs.

Learn more in the Checkout docs:

🕒 This guide takes 15 minutes to embed a credit card checkout on your app.

2. Localization

To make it easy for Balmain’s customers to understand what was happening during the buying process, the team used thirdweb Checkout's built-in localization feature, which supports 8 languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese.

Learn more in the Checkout docs:

🧩 Checkout Elements support the following languages: EnglishFrenchItalianSpanishGermanJapaneseKoreanChinese By default, text is shown in the buyer’s preferred browser language and defaults to English.Force a specific languageTo always show text in one language, set the locale property when creating…

The Results

The phygital NFT drop was a tremendous success, selling out (twice) in just a few days. After the first colorway sold out, Space Runners and Balmain decided to introduce a new set of colorways, just days after the initial launch.

"The demand was more than what we expected, and it sold quickly." - Deniz Özgür, Space Runners

thirdweb's NFT Checkout solution allowed for a seamless user experience, regardless of whether customers paid with crypto or fiat. Plus, customers were able to experience the drop in their native language, making the experience frictionless from end to end.

Looking towards the future: Shaping the future of fashion

Space Runners’ collaboration with Balmain is a glimpse into the future of digital fashion. Physical items are accompanied by their “digital twin," an NFT that both 1) verifies ownership of the item and 2) allows customers to use this physical item in the metaverse.

As more and more brands lean into this future, they’ll need a way to appeal to both crypto-native and traditional shoppers.

From pre-built smart contracts to robust SDKs for every stack, thirdweb gave the Balmain & Space Runners teams everything they needed for end-to-end credit card processing — enabling them to focus on creating smooth user experiences to onboard collectors onto their platform.

If you’d like to learn more about how thirdweb can accelerate your business & web3 development workflow, reach out to the team directly — or start building for free: