Built around the idea of a digital universe (or a metaverse), Around is a unique approach to thrifting, that facilitates the exchange of original products through online trading… and relies on NFTs to act as a proof of product authenticity as well as a sort of warranty card.
Sure, cryptocurrencies and NFTs are an absolute curse for the environment, although this new conceptual VR marketplace is certainly doing its part by promoting a somewhat sustainable culture of second-hand product ownership and an extension of a product’s life cycle. Meet ‘Around’, a metaverse marketplace for your physical goods. Much like a digital storefront like Amazon or Shopify, it allows products to be bought and sold, although it lets individual sellers sell their own belongings, sort of like a virtual garage sale – think eBay but better. What’s interesting about Around is that it doesn’t just let you buy and sell used goods, it’s a comprehensive virtual world where even your digital avatar buys and sells items too… so a pair of actual Jordans purchased in the physical world would also mean that your digital avatar would own a pair of Jordans.
Secondhand products are simply auctioned off to the highest bidder in this virtual universe. Your digital character participates in a bidding war with other characters, and the person who wins the bid doesn’t just get the actual product shipped to them, they also get the bragging rights of their avatar owning a digital copy of the product too (similar to buying skins on Fortnite). Along with the digital copy, your avatar even acquires the product’s NFT, which acts as proof of ownership and authenticity. An NFT is minted for each individual product, sort of like a digital badge, and when you sell a product, the NFT gets transferred to its new owner. The NFT serves as a warranty certificate in the real world, allowing brands to live up to the promise of their product’s quality, and for the added flair, it displays as a digital badge in your digital world, allowing you to flaunt your swag in the real world as well as the metaverse!
What Around proposes isn’t something radically new, but it does package a few existing concepts, like product ownership, thrifting, NFTs, and the metaverse into a singular cohesive solution. It seeks to reinvent how youngsters shop in the future, offering an interactive, immersive virtual storefront that people can practically line up in front of to buy limited-edition merch, effectively turning the digital store into a new social space.
Designer: Jeongin Lee