Blkburd Genes Uses Real Items' Phygital NFT Technology in Limited Edition Apparel
Clothes show our identity. They speak to our lifestyle, fashion sense, and even our beliefs. But what if it were the other way around? What if, instead of showing off our fashion style, our clothing teaches us about the origin, cultural, and scholarly significance behind the designs?
This is exactly what Blkburd Genes, a company that sells limited-edition clothes, is doing.
Blkburd Genes is a company of profound creatives who make informative lifestyle products using the world’s history and technology. It was founded in 2016 by Zede’Kiah Loky, a scientific creative director with extensive experience in the fashion industry across Africa, Asia & America. Blkburd Genes hit the headlines when iconic rapper & business mogul Jay Z was spotted in two out of the five series LAMU collection designs. In recent weeks, Miami Heat Forward Jimmy Butler, Fashion Model and Actor Jeremy Meeks & WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder have gracefully worn a limited Mansa Musa Tee shirt. For this design, Blkburd Genes created a limited twenty-five piece drop signifying the number of years the African King reigned in Mail, West Africa.
As the Scientific Creator/CEO of Blkburd Genes, Loky specializes in visualizing purposeful ideas containing knowledge and information that is researched & approved by associated partners and later graphically created by Tim LeNoir, the brand Head Designer.
Loky now wants to use Blkburd Genes to give back and educate people about history and future culture.
“We believe that Blkburd Genes can act as a direct-to-consumer repository of transformational, accessible, and engaging content. That’s why we came up with the aspect of having the QR code— a dynamic QR code that can host informative content on our apparel. A space where training and mentoring can live and organic peer-reviewed data can be shared instantaneously,” Loky said.
Blkburd Genes also strives to collaborate with stakeholders to integrate consumer, private, and philanthropic support across disciplines. Their cross-disciplinary approach has led them to interact with a diverse pool of technical and non-technical Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).
“The brand was re-inspired by the fact that we saw fashion companies producing clothes during the COVID-19 pandemic with or without being able to gauge if their Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, or Special Collections would be able to be worn in public environments when the time approached. As their clothes stayed stagnant in the closet, our future vintage clothes acted as an additional touchpoint to our customers during quarantine. Unfortunately, in certain regions of the world we have seen a great loss of life and additionally businesses and local economies have lost significant revenue.
“An aside is that our clothing designs function as viable ecotourism and ambassadorial tools because after scanning the QR code, and when it is again safe to experience the places we highlight in the Coastal Kenyan Collection, who wouldn’t want to visit Lamu (Old Town), Diani (Beach), and Mombasa (Beach)? That is the type of work that we aspire to create,” Loky added.
In order to bring to life their passion for educating people worldwide, Blkburd Genes partnered with Real Items. Their first limited edition release, called the Coastal Kenyan Collection, showcases the stories of different cities such as Lamu, a coastal city known for being the oldest and best-preserved example of a Swahili settlement in East Africa. After experiencing Lamu’s rich history in 2019, Loky decided to integrate that feeling of discovering the wonders and artistic aspects of Lamu into their clothing.
“After visiting Diani in 2012, Lamu in 2019, and living in Mombasa in 2007, I felt those opportunities to experience their special cultural and natural heritage allowed me to rediscover the people, sounds, energy, and knowledge that inhabit those lands. My understanding of the Coastal Kenyan region morphed. I realized it takes knowledge to pay attention to knowledge,” he shared.
Implementing Real Items technology
To convey their products’ story, Blkburd Genes turned their limited edition apparel into Phygitals. Phygitals are physical items paired with a digital asset (NFT). To access the NFT, each Blkburd Genes limited edition T-shirt comes with a Real Items QR code that customers can scan using a smartphone camera. In the future, this may evolve to sensors and NFC hardware wallet chips as Real Items is exploring next-gen technology infrastructure for Phygital technology.
After scanning the QR code, customers will immediately be led to the Real Items platform, where they can claim digital ownership of the product and see all the unique content associated with it. Aside from gaining access to information, customers can also use the NFT to prove that their limited-edition apparel is authentic. This means that Blkburd Genes’ QR codes are tamper-resistant, and its’ NFTs can never be counterfeited.
When asked why they partnered with Real Items, Jimmy Muwombi, Blkburd Genes Director of Strategy and Development, shared that they wanted to leverage their future vintage brand and QR code technology to provide meaningful insight to their customers that drives their engagement, and informs, and improves the overall customer journey.
“The immersive garment collections that we continue to develop serves to enhance the public’s understanding of the past, future, and present. We look to embrace the critical and active responsibility in advancing humanity and leveraging that leadership role to structure impactful solutions,” he said.
Additionally, Blkburd Genes is also taking the necessary steps to ensure that the information they’re putting out is accurate. It took their scientific, creative, and tech team over seven months to research, create prototypes, and write the history represented by each design.
“The community of scholars we collaborate with produces high-end geeky garments. Imagine an influence roster and virtual Rolodex stacked full of straight nerds. Where each creator has a line on their curriculum vitae that cites their peer-reviewed work on the QR code t-shirts we deploy for each collection--much like the prestige of a publication in a major scientific journal, or how presenting at an academic conference is commended, our scholars are also recognized for the critical learning they do. Why not give them their flowers now and ensure that they are able to smell them while they are [still] here?” Muwombi added.
Blkburd Genes is currently working to reduce historical inaccuracies and appropriately portray Coastal Kenyan culture through their designs. Their brand’s core values include education, history/heritage, philanthropy, and technology.
Blkburd Genes’ value of educating people on world history comes from their passion for sharing accurate, scientific information with those interested in culture and heritage. Their values, although different, are connected. When such detailed and accurate information is accessible, people will be more knowledgeable and educated on history and culture. When people understand cultural appropriation, they become more respectful of heritage. This knowledge ultimately leads to kinder and more understanding people who treat others with compassion as societies become more intertwined globally.
Much like the end-to-end creative process that Head of Graphic Design, Tim LeNoir, and Zede’kiah thrive on, Blkburd Genes commits to fostering inclusiveness. “Every technical session is an opportunity to celebrate the rich uniqueness of our shared humanity. We operate in an environment of continuous learning,” Muwombi shared.
In the grand scheme of things, Blkburd Genes’ value of education directly connects to their desire to promote the welfare of others. A portion of the Coastal Kenyan Collection’s sales will be donated to the maintenance and restoration of the Riyadha Mosque & Islamic Centre.
When it comes to technology, Blkburd Genes partnered with Real Items because of the advantages that come with the security and verification of NFTs. Aside from getting access to unique content and proof of ownership, the technology can also integrate rewards, gamification, and direct-to-consumer engagement within the Real Items platform. By simply pairing their physical products with NFTs, Blkburd Genes has opened the doors to countless possibilities for their business and marketing.
Blkburd Genes is altering the fashion industry by giving each piece of clothing an organic story of its own. Their members are also integrating technology into fashion to educate and share the wonders of the coastal cities of Kenya. We at Real Items are proud to partner with a company that aligns with our vision of educating and sharing the truth with people worldwide.
Whatever industry you might be in, whether you own a luxury brand, a Shopify store, or even manage a supply chain, there is always a way to contribute to building the Phygital future— a future where things are authentic, accountable, and verifiable. Real Items sees a world where everything has a digital identity or an NFT that can easily be connected to the metaverse. We envision a future where everyone, regardless of race, gender, or social status, has access to the truth.
We believe that when people have access to the truth, they make wiser and better decisions.
If you align with our vision of a Phygital future and would like to apply this revolutionary software to your business, book a free call with our team HERE. We also invite you to join the conversation with our passionate, forward-thinking community in our Discord.