Former digital chief of Ralph Lauren launches fashion platform Web3
At Ralph Lauren, Delahunt led a project to dress up Bitmoji as the digital Ralph Lauren in August 2020, becoming the first luxury brand to partner with the Snap-owned avatar company. Since then, the avatar landscape has become a key arena for tech companies to exploit the fashion industry and its role in shaping online identities: 85% of America’s Gen Z population aged 13-24 years have a Bitmoji avatar; Meta and Apple now offer detailed avatar customization; and startups such as Ready Player Me and Genies are vying for brand partnerships and institutional funding.
During Delahunt’s tenure, Ralph Lauren also partnered with South Korean metaverse platform Zepeto and Roblox, where a temporary vacation experience at the end of 2021 offered players the chance to dress up in pieces. Ralph Lauren vintage, effectively educated Gen Z on the brand’s heritage while providing access to hard-to-find physical pieces.
Since then, interest in digital fashion has proliferated and an underlying blockchain layer has become increasingly relevant in terms of ownership, revenue and democratizing talent. Delahunt calls it a tipping point, with changes to blockchain, AR, VR, and user-friendly design tools leading to a rebirth. “We’re going to see this wild intersection of creativity and technology that’s going to really disrupt design the same way we’ve seen the last 10 years of content being disrupted,” she says. “I think there will be the next releases of Netflix and TikTok and all the major platforms that we don’t even know yet. We also have to remember MySpace, which in 2003 was one of the most visited platforms in the States States and which has fallen as fast as it has risen.
Delahunt also says that physical parts are a planned component of Syky’s business model, noting the expansion of AR used to add a digital layer in retail and with products. Already, heritage brands such as Nike, Prada and Puma, as well as digital players such as RTFKT and 9dcc have leaned heavily in this direction via digital-phygital products linked via NFTs. After all, there is always a need to express our identities in all areas of life. The new Rtkft-Nike co-branded hoodie, for example, gives wearers AR wings.
The space is still nascent and in the meantime, she says, more bridges are needed between traditional fashion, new talent and technology. “I just feel like the time is right. We’re in the middle of the story – and it’s cool to be able to do something in this space.
Comments, questions or comments? Email us at [email protected].
More from this author:
The Fashion Director’s Guide to the Web3
Fashion’s Next Web3 Opportunity: Teaching Clients About NFTs and Crypto Wallets
In NYFW, fashion struggles to understand where Web3 fits