Founded by Sean Wotherspoon, Brennan Russo and Nick Adler, MNTGE is essentially an ambitious crossover project. A Web3 platform, marketplace, community and creative hub – MNTGE is ostensibly positioned as a vintage clothing brand, merging the quality and storytelling of IRL pieces with the potential of blockchain authentication and connectivity.
The brand’s latest project, dropping today via the OpenSea platform, is the natural progression of that ethos: a tribute to the narrative nature of physical clothing, to how that narrative can mean something different from person to person, expressed through subtle deviations – wear, tear and coloration – and to handcraft artistry.
The release, which comprises patches designed by 11 artists – Coldie, Grant Yun, Jen Stark, Mad Dog Jones, McBess, Nyan Cat, Olive Allen, OSF, Scott Campbell, Seneca, and Stay Chill Bill – is designed to encourage customization and creativity; a way for owners of the patches to add their own narrative thread to a garment and become a part of its history.
And, given the MNTGE USP, that history is ratified and secured through blockchain technology; permanent provenance of ownership past and present from hereon-out. The NFC chipping, too – itself a kind of physical-digital hybrid – allows for communication between patch and patch-holder. Chipped pieces are able to exist in the tangible present and the intangible, infinite digital universe – interacting with technology like smartphones, where all the essential data is stored. Because history is one thing, but a way of sharing that history is more important still.
Ahead of today’s release, we spoke to MNTGE co-founder Brennan Russo about the interaction of physical and digital fashion, the possibility for community through blockchain, and what it means to refract the DNA of an artist via the prism of technology.
What does the interaction of the physical and the digital bring to the table that you don’t get from just one or the other?
Brennan Russo: It allows people to own digital representations of physical art, and gives people the ability to wear and express themselves in both the digital and the physical world. Each physical patch is embroidered and created at the highest possible quality, with vintage patches and patchwork jackets at the core of our inspiration for this collection.
The digital component will allow for people to authentically own their patch but also in the future give us the ability to be more connected to our MNTGE community and provide unique opportunities – private listening parties or exclusive gallery viewings – for our customers.
People often raise their eyebrows at the idea of “digital fashion,” particularly when you’re throwing vintage into the mix. The idea of something so tangible as clothes, with their own history literally sewn in, and something so seemingly intangible to people as an NFT can feel irreconcilable. How is MNTGE working to repair that divide?
BR: What makes vintage fashion so unique is that some of these pieces have been around for 25, 50, 75, 100+ years, yet the quality and style has survived the test of time. The younger generations in particular who are focused on sustainability and uniquely expressing themselves are gravitating towards vintage in unprecedented numbers. One of our goals, for MNTGE Patchwork and MNTGE as a whole, is to connect vintage to the blockchain to help trace and track the provenance and authenticity of these items. There are tricks to tell what era a vintage t-shirt is from, or how old a pair of vintage jeans are, but we’re providing traceability and preservation of the vintage item’s story on the blockchain.
We can also create tech-enabled clothing to open new doors for consumers who may not be as well-versed in the digital space, to experience a brand in a whole new way by easily tapping their MNTGE NFC-enabled piece, to their phone. One of the most rewarding outcomes we’ve encountered recently has been how excited people are to see their digital asset pop up in their phone, while holding the physical twin in their hand. The process of tapping with the NFC chips IRL is so seamless that it’s made it very easy (and fun) to make the connection for folks who may not have gotten on board previously due to the daunting barriers to entry… and who doesn’t love vintage?
There are 11 artists on the Patchwork project, each working in different media and with vastly different styles. How did you guys decide who to bring onboard and who was right for this?
BR: We curated the artists by looking at our network of friends, colleagues, and people who we are huge fans of and have looked up to for a long time. Every artist that is part of this Patchwork project offers an iconic art style that is distinctly unique – whether it’s Jen Stark’s recognizable use of multi-color and shapes, or Scott Campbell’s distinct tattoo style, or Christopher Torres’ Nyan Cat artwork, which is arguably one of the most viral meme images of the last two decades.
Each patch reflects the artist’s DNA and beautiful artwork across a range of different art styles, mediums, and backgrounds. MNTGE Patchwork allows people to wear patches in the physical world that provides people the opportunity to identify with these diverse communities and express how they are feeling through art and style.