Since its conception back in 2020, Skinvaders has rapidly become one of the leading digital wearable platforms thanks to its focus on utilizing in-house technology to redefine fashion innovation and bringing the industry’s top players from shop floor to gamified, online experiences. Since its rise to prominence among Web3 enthusiasts and creatives, the digital-first initiative has collaborated with the likes of French contemporary designer Marine Serre, multiverse sneaker brand Shoes 53045, and — most recently — Puma. But the company is only just starting out on its trajectory to Web3 success as it continues to spearhead the world of online skins and in-game wearables, with fashion aficionados at the forefront.
Recognizing the impact that China’s consumers can have on the elevation of global fashion names alongside the burgeoning evolution of the mainland’s digital landscape, Skinvaders is tapping netizens’ spending power in the way it knows best: by cracking the virtual avatar market via its latest collab with sportswear giant Puma. The project, also in partnership with the avatar platform Zepeto and leading esports organization Gen.G (the only one of its kind with top teams across the USA and Asia), aims to merge the world of esports with offline merchandise in a phygital streetwear collection, available to gamers via Zepeto, as well as in Foot Locker stores in Korea.
This week, Alexis Arragon, founder and CEO of the next-generation label, joined Jing Daily to discuss Skinvaders’ latest phygital partnership with industry staple Puma, luxury’s newfound affinity with gaming, and how the rising start-up is harnessing the Chinaverse.
We’ve seen a lot of luxury brands enter the gaming space, like with Roblox and Burberry, and yourself with Marine Serre. Why do you think that luxury has moved toward this industry?
There are around 3 billion people playing games on the planet and what we need to recognize is that the younger generation is spending a lot of time on these channels. Not just to play but to socialize, experience new things, and purchase digital content. I think there was a realization that actual money can be made and that these platforms have become a sales channel. For luxury, it makes sense to reach out to this huge audience that might be too young right now to invest, but if those players enjoy an experience made by Gucci now, in five years when they can purchase something from a luxury brand, they might choose them over a competitor, because they remember that they had fun playing the Gucci experience in Roblox.
It took quite a while for luxury to catch on to the power that gaming channels can have on their strategies. Why do you think that is?
I think brands have always been aware of the use of games as mediums for a communication channel, but the fashion industry and the game industry have been so different — the luxury industry even more so — and it wasn’t often that they would interact. I think this largely came down to the fact that fashion isn’t very tech-savvy. It’s usually quite late in taking up the latest trends, like e-commerce. At the very beginning, everybody would frown upon e-commerce, because it was very new and was really changing the course of fashion, as well as threatening the usual sales and distribution channels of the existing ecosystem. Brands didn’t understand it, but consumers liked it, and I think a bit of a similar thing has happened with games.
What would you say your biggest differentiator is, as the metaverse becomes more crowded with possible competitors?
We’re a B2B company, which means that our clients are the fashion brands. Whether they have a more game-oriented focus or a more webflow-oriented focus, it doesn’t matter. We want to specifically cater to the need of producing 3D content for individual brands in the industry. That’s already quite a feat as fashion in 3D is much more difficult because of the draping, animation, and textiles that are used.
We also understand that every platform has its own set of requirements and we’re able to produce specific content for that platform. The fact that we’re capable of producing content at scale, I think, is the biggest differentiator with other agencies or the other platforms that exist on the market.
What are Skinvaders’ ambitions when it comes to cracking Asia and the Chinaverse? Your latest project with Puma and Zepeto demonstrates an interest there — is that an area that you’re planning to focus on more in the future?
We don’t work specifically with a geographic zone or a certain type of brand, but the behavior of the consumers in the Asian market is very different from the behavior of US- or Europe-based consumers. Digital is much more advanced, and we’ve had a lot of interest from our clients and brands about positioning themselves over there.
With our latest project, it’s not the first drop that we’ve done in Zepeto, but it’s the first phygital collaboration. More than that, the retail part of the activation also happens in Korea. It’s not always easy to actually work on an activation for the Asian market when working from outside of that zone, but the fact that Puma is a global brand surely helps in that matter.
What do you see for the future of Web3 and this intersection of gaming, esports, and luxury?
I think there’s a realization that for brands this is going to be the future for many of their consumers. They’re really also taking the time to educate themselves and understand how to work within this new environment. I was really surprised to hear brands outline their strategies for the next six months, such as NFTs, governance tokens, and DAO. I think we’re only scratching the surface of what brands can do in that space and what they will do. It’s very exciting to imagine what the future is going to be.
Finally, do you have any exciting projects you can tell us about?
I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but we do have something exciting that’s going to be out very, very soon.