Haberdashers & Memes

So, not too long ago now my friend PurpLetariat, a longtime ghoul holder and general chat frequenter put out a message on Warpcast asking if anyone would make some new NFTs for the $DEGEN DAO that he helped found. I jokingly said “just ask me next time, buddy.” I did take seriously though that it might be a good time to make something for that group as it was growing.

One thing I feel like we saw a lot of in 2022-2023 was groups that had a coin that took flight for a moment, and everyone was scrambling to try to figure out some kind of cloud of neat images to swirl around it, cool ideas and references that would glom onto the outside of their shitcoin of choice and give it momentum. Just reading the words “meme contest” is enough to make a lot of us retch.

I saw what had happened with $POINTS as the Warpcast crowd seemed to want that to be their meme in the wake of $WIF going parabolic on Solana - and lost a little chunk of change immediately buying the top. What I saw though, was that Warpcast started building tools around $POINTS right away - I didn’t have to leave the app to see updates on price or notes on who was buying etc. After having gotten used to Twitter being more like a hub to branch out from, I wasn’t used to having meaningful information in the place that I went to chat and post. That’s what made it seem suddenly important: we can integrate things here.

I was surprised as anyone that Vitalik posted in the /degen channel. Purp seemed like he was going a mile a minute and connecting with people in backroom chats from all across the extended network of early Farcaster users. I was messing around with a few projects with my partner Tartaria Archivist and thought, “okay, this could be something.” So we dropped everything to focus on the hats - and just as we were doing that DWR made custom react hats a thing. So that re-iterated the idea for me: in-app defacto recognition of the memecoin. It’s not advanced functionality that mattered, it was the fact that it’s there in the app. Tartaria and I have a custom engine he built that we use to make custom rules for kinds of hats possible, rarities etc. that make sense.

Now, the hats themselves (“haberdasher” sounds a little more playfully foppish) - you have to ask a couple questions I think about what makes cultures work and what makes them fail. I may just be waxing eloquent at this point, but I think a good well-developed culture has to embrace touchstones that would occur to people normally: so you don’t fight people making Bill the Butcher a hat reference, you recognize him as one of the hat-wearing icons. So we did: we recognized Bill the Butcher, Scrooge McDuck, Crocodile Dundee, Slash, Willy Wonka, The Cat in the Hat etc etc - any really meaningful hat reference from pop culture isn’t outside the culture because it’s what people will meme anyways, so make it yours. If you try to form a community by narrowly sticking to themes: if we only did the “degenerate gambler” poker chips, money, slot machines etc etc - it feels dry and artificial even if those are the totems of the movement. This is why meme contests suck: you can’t take such a narrow artificial definition of what makes a thing what it is and expect it to feel organic. Your culture needs to be strong enough at the core that the weirdos that will inevitably inhabit it can be embraced by it rather than defined outside of it.

Bill The Butcher
Bill The Butcher

So we started making hats: standard was Warpcast purple, of course. Then maybe a robot one, a nice classy black one … We drew on every reference that occurred to us, and tried to make everything feel like it fit into a cohesive little pixel world. No backgrounds on them so that people could (if there wasn’t stuff in the way) just copy and paste them onto their avatar for giggles. Plus, these hats are wherever the user is, right? They don’t exist in some other setting. Degen Haberdashers aren’t a PFP so much as they’re imagination stimulators for the PFP you probably already adopted (it’s 2024!)

Just a few haberdashers.
Just a few haberdashers.

One thing we wanted to include in the project was the McDonald’s hat, the red candle, the pauper hats - memecoins go up but they also go down, rapidly. The Warpcast crowd seems a little more savvy, at least early on it does, so hopefully people who buy into the coin (it’s a gambling theme, get it?) understand that this is going to be a ride. Purp and Wake and the rest of the DAO are going to try to make it fun and worthwhile to be in their DAO, but they can’t control the whole market and wouldn’t dream of promising it would only go up.

For myself, if $DEGEN was going to really be a thing on Warpcast for a while I wanted to see the culture be a little more robust than just endless tipping, a little more broad and thoughtful than “NUMBER GO UP.” A dash of style will at least make another localized memecoin season more pleasant for all of us. I hope people show each other a little grace in what has been a pretty long PVP bear market leading up to 2024 (which feels just a little different, no?). I think as the crypto space matures, it’s been interesting to see that it reserves for itself a corner of sort of recognized immaturity. There’s still $DOGE, there’s $WIF and $BONK on Solana, right? It’s like the attempt to build serious cryptocurrency functionality maintains a pet memecoin within their own arena - and $BASE has their own sort of bald affinity coins, but are those going to end up being the Base chain or Warpcast pet meme? Time will tell. Good luck out there.

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