Losing the Hoodie: Crypto Fashion Gets Loud and Proud In New York

“Make blockchain stylish again, that’s my motto.”

So quipped the emcee of the third Ethereal Summit in Queens, NY, during one of the final talks of the two-day event. He’d been asking attendees to ask embarrassing questions they might have about the technology.

Joseph Lubin, founder and CEO of event host ConsenSys, had touted the occasion as a way to bring those outside the space into the fold. Artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, enterprise executives and government activists all blended with the usual crowd, and it was obvious.

While the reclaimed glass factory where the event took place has its share of of jeans and T-shirts (typically ones with crypto company names or logos on them), some at least seem to have moved beyond the Zuckerberg hoodie. There were occasional splashes of color, where some were perhaps summoning the genre ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin seems to have established – “unicorn punk“.

And although not the most crypto red carpet-ready event in history, Ethereal did not disappoint, bringing together the more conservative threads of the traditional enterprise space with the colorful, yet in-your-face style of the creatives that have taken a liking to a nascent industry that preaches radical inclusion.

As such, CoinDesk decided to record some of the notable looks and off-kilter costumes of the cryptocurrency and blockchain space in 2018.

Niki Williams wearing Wild Fang 

Much like the bathrooms at ConsenSys, Niki Williams likes to support brands that celebrate humans being free to be non-binary – an in-vogue term relating to the idea of not being just one or the other thing: male or female, straight or gay, and so on.

Williams, a southern California-based community curator for ConsenSys, embraces such total freedom, saying:

“If we’re going to create a decentralized world and offer access to money, resources, politics, blah, blah, blah, then we should live it and breathe and support brands that feel the same.”

Speaking to the attitudes in the blockchain space, Williams continued, “In any group that’s in the minority, there is a duality where there’s one group of people that use identity politics and the other group of people that says, ‘fuck that.'”

In her eyes, Ethereal brought together both those groups, looking dapper, who are trying to legitimize the crypto industry and those more eccentric tech nomads that don’t fit into any one culture.

Kelvin Fichter wearing Y3, Supreme and Yeezy

Sporting what’s seen as a normal part of fashion in the space – the crypto company tee – and striped pants, when asked why, Kelvin Fichter merely said, “Why not?”

Fair point.

When prodded further, though, Fichter said his outfit was comfortable and mentioned ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s style (colorful T-shirts generally featuring kittens, rainbows, unicorns and the like) as inspiration.

“People who create the tech, shape the tech,” Fichter, who researches ethereum scaling tech, plasma, for Omisego, said, adding:

“I want the tech to stay quirky and human, not like a menacing financial beast.”

Mercina Tillemann-Dick wearing Phillip Lim and Coach

The chief operating officer of the Global Blockchain Business Council, Mercina Tillemann-Dick was refreshingly honest, saying that she wore the black-on-black outfit because it was the one she didn’t wear on her last business trip. As such, it just migrated it from one suitcase to the other – likely something many in the crypto space will sympathize with.

Although, she continued, saying she typically dresses pretty “conservatively” because of the nature of who she meets with in the course of her job.

In another situation, “I wouldn’t be wearing sneakers,” she said. Although, “one of the cool things about the crypto community is that it’s very accepting of all sorts of people.” […]

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