“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 jeans and T-shirts (typical 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 the 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?”
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 within 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.”
Caitlin Long wearing Free People
Caitlin Long, who had just got off stage at Ethereal after speaking about the work she’s been doing in Wyoming, where she’s been working with the state government to craft a blockchain-friendly legislation, had boots that caught everyone’s attention.
When asked what inspired her to wear such exciting footwear, Long said:
“Because the environment that’s here – anything goes. This is not a corporate conference. It’s all about celebrating the individual.”
Kirill Gourov wearing Nuvo, DKNY, Hugo Boss and Ferragamo
According to a friend with Kirill Gourov, he looks like a “modern crypto gentleman.”
Sporting slick loafers, dark jeans and a casual sports jacket over a mono-color slight V-neck T-shirt, Gourov dressed the part of many an Ethereal conference goer – a look that says, ‘I just stepped out of the traditional financial world and into crypto.’
Leslie Bocskor wearing Nino Corvato
Leslie Bocskor, the president of Electrum Partners, a cannabis and crypto advisory group based in Las Vegas, said his whole look was intentional, and it showed.
From the “uninhibited eyebrows and wild facial hair to the suit with splashes of color,” not to mention the marijuana-leaf cuff links, Bocskor came to Ethereal representing exactly who he is and what he wants people in the industry to know him as.
“There’s a crossover between many different worlds – traditional global finance, regulators, government, but also alternative and evolutionary business environments,” he said, adding:
“I put on costumes for each even I go to that represent me and where I’m trying to go best.”
Earl Mack wearing Earl Mack
Earl Mack, a designer and artist from Virginia, was at Ethereal working with rareart.io, a platform for allowing artists to sell scarce copies of their digital art.
One of his designs was screen printed on his yellow hoodie and he hand-painted the flames on his jeans.
Speaking to his personal style, Mack told CoinDesk, “I don’t talk a lot, so I let my clothes speak for me.”
And he wants them to convey that he’s different, out of the norm – “I’m really into standing out.”
Ashleigh Hill wearing Diane von Furstenberg, Zara and Free People
Ashleigh Hill won’t let her style be determined by the male-dominated industry where mute colors and conservative patterns have generally reigned.
Shooting for CNBC Crypto Trader, Hill had on a bright pink dress under the bright blue striped jacket and boots with a flower pattern. According to her, she wears mix-matching patterns and tons of colors every day and she doesn’t want her job to change her personal style.
It’s nice to be a strong and empowered woman who’s OK with standing out, she said, adding that she maintains the outlook:
“This is me and I know about cryptocurrency.”