Beyond his role as the father of Ethereum (ETH), Vitalik Buterin has made a name for himself in more ways than one. The eccentric founder’s wardrobe has drawn delight and ire from his peers, giving the crypto community a collection of iconic outfits over the years.
While Buterin’s hilarious range of clothes is beautiful, is there more to these fashion statements than meets the eye?
Is Vitalik trying to send us encrypted messages through his choice of apparel?
Let’s recap some of Vitalik’s most recognizable fits.
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Is Vitalik Buterin Web3’s Fashionista?
In many ways, Vitalik’s outfit choices over the years are a breath of fresh air. For years, the corporate and financial sectors have stuck to the same old boring fits: crisp dark suits, discrete ties, and basic colors. People are encouraged to stick to conventions and never do anything that would stand out.
The biggest players in the tech world have historically kept things simple. For example, Mark Zuckerberg wears the same dark grey shirt every day. Even Steve Jobs, known for his disruptive ideas, kept his wardrobe clean with various basic turtlenecks.
Our beloved Vitalik has other ideas. He sees every conference and public appearance as an opportunity to wear something outrageously fun. On top of that, Vitalik’s outfits reflect his thoughts on the state of the cryptocurrency market.
Art imitates life, even in crypto.
Classic Vitalik Costumes
Selecting a handful of Vitalik’s most iconic costumes is no easy task. Comically absurd and delightfully relatable, Buterin’s freshest threads have given us plenty to smile about over the years. But do these outfits have a deeper meaning?
Unicorns and UFOs
In tech and business, a Unicorn refers to a small startup that blew up and surpassed all expectations. These fresh new ideas and businesses usually net their founders and early investors millions in equity, changing their lives forever.
Platforms like Netflix, Spotify, and Figma all have small origin stories but grew to become household names in their respective fields.
In the crypto space, Ethereum follows the same trajectory. The world’s first decentralized smart contract platform has changed the internet as we know it and made most of its early supporters millionaires. Undoubtedly, Ethereum is a Unicorn.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. While Ethereum is a groundbreaking piece of technology, the blockchain has also given birth to dozens of unicorns. Decentralized applications and DeFi tools like Uniswap and AAVE are unicorns in their own right, all made possible by Ethereum itself. No wonder the Uniswap logo is also a Unicorn.
Vitalik has donned unicorn-inspired gear countless times, but his most recognizable ensemble is undeniably what he wore to the Disrupt SF Conference in 2017. Here, we have an intellectual-looking cat sitting astride a llama-unicorn, complete with a stunning backdrop of UFOs and green hills.
Bear Costumes for Bear Markets
Fast-forward a few years. The crypto market reached peak euphoria in 2021, with speculation and unsustainable hype driving crypto prices to all-time highs. The crypto community was laced with greed, and a sizable correction was long overdue.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Buterin himself had suggested that a bear market was what the space desperately needed. Bad actors would be purged from the ecosystem, speculators would leave, and builders and developers could keep their heads down and work on genuine products and use cases without distraction.
At ETHDenver in 2022, Vitalik stepped onto the stage in a full-body bear costume. Through this powerful fashion statement, Buterin reaffirmed his belief that the bear market had finally arrived.
This isn’t the only theory, however. Some members of the crypto community have countered the bear costume argument, claiming that Vitalik was dressed as a BuffiCorn, a cross between a buffalo and unicorn, and the official mascot of ETHDenver.
Shiba Inu Pajamas
Love them or hate them, meme coins are a big part of the cryptocurrency world. In the meme space, there is arguably no figure more widely treasured and recognized than a Shiba Inu dog. Inspired by Kabuso, the adorable pooch who ignited internet culture and became the DOGE meme, we’ve been blessed with two iconic meme coins: Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu Coin (SHIB).
Perhaps paying homage to the meme coin community, Vitalik took to the stage at ETHDenver 2022 in a stunning set of Shiba Inu pajamas.
This colorful statement was well-received by the Shiba Inu community, who began playfully suggesting that these pajamas confirmed the popular Shiba Inu theory that Vitalik Buterin is secretly Ryoshi, the meme coin’s original founder.
Alongside the Horse Mask, the inflatable dinosaur is one of the internet’s most popular costumes. As we’d expect from someone who has his thumb on the pulse of internet culture, Vitalik didn’t waste any time finding an appropriate occasion to put on a show.
In August 2022, at the Ethereum – A New Era event held in San Francisco, Vitalik arrived fitted head-to-toe in a full inflatable dinosaur costume. But what could he be trying to say in this latest stunt?
Buterin himself is far from a dinosaur. Born in 1994, the Russian-Canadian programmer is hardly ancient. His work is undoubtedly modern and progressive, focusing on improving the future.
This event was one of the last conferences ahead of The Merge, a crucial moment in Ethereum history when the network transitioned from its archaic, unsustainable Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to the more efficient Proof-of-Stake algorithm.
It’s not wildly speculative to assume that Vitalik chose to wear a dinosaur costume in the lead-up to this iconic event. The Merge represented the official extinction of an older Ethereum and the rebirth of a new, superior network.
Hard Fork Cafe
Let’s go back in time and revisit 2017. Ethereum was still in its infancy, having only launched two years before, and the world’s first DeFi summer was in full swing.
Given Ethereum’s age, it was still suffering plenty of growing pains. The infamous DAO Hack of 2017 almost destroyed the network, with ~5% of the total ETH supply being stolen by malicious actors.
The only solution to save the network was a controversial one. The only way to rescue the stolen funds was to hard fork the Ethereum blockchain entirely from a time before the hack, essentially restarting the network.
While this would effectively undo the damage caused by the hack, it went against the fundamental blockchain values of decentralization. Eventually, the Ethereum community agreed that a hard fork was the best way forward. This is why today we have Ethereum and the Ethereum Classic (ETC) cryptocurrency.
Vitalik Buterin supported the Hard Fork by donning his iconic ‘Hard Fork’ Cafe tee shirt in Singapore later that year.
Wrapping up our list of Vitalik’s greatest fashion statements, we have what looks to be a simple holiday outing. Perched on a hilltop, we find Vitalik rocking this vibrant and eye-catching cat bag.
I won’t waste any time speculating on a hidden message here. Our Web3 fashion guru probably just liked the look.
Pros and Cons of Vitalik’s Outfits
Believe it or not, Vitalik’s fashion choices can have positive and negative impacts and outcomes for the crypto industry. Let’s take a look at the ripple effects of Buterin’s wardrobe.
- Unapologetic Authenticity – Buterin’s outfits scream individuality. They give Vitalik a fun and friendly image that endears him to legions of fans and supporters.
- Crypto Commentary – Vitalik’s costumes give us an insight into the blockchain guru’s thoughts and opinions.
- Relatability – Buterin’s playful and eccentric fashion choices add a touch of warmth, humor, and humanity, making the tech world feel a tad more relatable.
- Outside Perception – Vitalik Buterin is one of the thought leaders of the blockchain world. Seeing one of the industry’s key figures dress like a dinosaur or BuffiCorn to important events reinforces the mainstream view that crypto is a joke.
- Market Manipulation – One could argue that Vitalik wearing certain clothes will impact market dynamics. For example, imagine what would happen to SHIB if he wore a shirt that said ‘I am Ryoshi.’
On the Flipside
- The expectation that influential figures must dress ‘appropriately’ is becoming outdated. Vitalik has proven that his eccentric fashion choices have no impact on his ability to build and scale the world’s largest decentralized smart contract platform.
Why This Matters
Vitalik Buterin is one of the most influential figures in the crypto space. As strange as it sounds, keeping a weary eye on his fashion choices might help you see the crypto industry from a new perspective you haven’t considered before.
Vitalik burnt or donated most of the Shiba Inu tokens allocated to him by Ryoshi, the project’s founder.
Given that he wrote the Ethereum whitepaper and developed the world’s first smart contract-capable decentralized network when he was a teenager, it is safe to assume that Vitalik Buterin is intelligent.
Vitalik Buterin dropped out of his academic career to pursue Ethereum development. While not completing a PhD, he’s since been awarded an Honorary Ph.D. by the University of Basel for his contributions to computer science.