Syky Collective Partners with British Fashion Council – WWD

Luxury digital fashion platform Syky may have just hit the scene in January, but is already aiming to redefine it by joining forces with the British Fashion Council for a new incubator program, Syky Collective.

A Tuesday announcement revealing the inaugural cohort of 10 digital fashion designers merely mentioned the BFC as a mentor, in a list that included Jonathan Bottomley, Calvin Klein’s chief marketing officer, Red DAO’s Megan Kaspar, Vogue creative editorial director Mark Guiducci, Frosty creative director Sabine Le Marchand and author and Metaverse expert Matthew Ball.

However, the BFC’s involvement goes a bit deeper than that. The council will link its own NewGen program for emerging designers to the Syky Collective with a new course-sharing agreement, Alice Delahunt, Syky’s founder and chief executive officer, exclusively told WWD.

“The British Fashion Council NewGen have seen some of the most incredible designers of our time go through, from Lee (Alexander) McQueen to Stella McCartney to Christopher Kane. It is truly inspiring,” she said. “Now you have a great group of 10 emerging global designers who are digital designers first and some physical designers who will get access to the British Fashion Council’s NewGen curriculum.”

From Syky, the new designer collective will learn about building a brand, digital worlds and Web 3.0, she explained. Those courses can get somewhat tactical, from social media brand-building, community and the importance of designers telling their stories, to establishing a legal entity and fundraising, with mock pitch rounds planned with some of Syky’s investors. During the year, they will also have access to the full curriculum from BFC NewGen, including courses on international trade, intellectual property, raising capital and more.

The partnership works both ways, granting NewGen designers access to any of Syky’s master classes as well. The goal is to support emerging fashion design talent, as they morph from being a designers to executives as well.

“The bi-directionality of the shared wisdom and knowledge between the British Fashion Council’s NewGen program, as well as this proprietary program, is a really big step for the industry,” Delahunt added, “because we have the opportunity to talk and to onboard a new generation of designers specifically from the British Fashion Council into digital design, into Web 3.0, to explain what’s going on in the space, and the BFC have the opportunity for global designers to access such an incredible program that they run.”

It’s an ambitious play, especially for a newcomer. The Syky platform officially debuted just this past January, but it already raised $9.5 million in Series A funding — led by Seven Seven Six, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s investment firm — released NFTs and announced its intention to create the Syky Collective incubator program in April. In June, the platform was also distinguished as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers” for 2023.

“Syky and its fellow pioneers are at the forefront of innovation and disruption needed to help us solve the world’s most pressing issues,” said Verena Kuhn, WEF’s head of innovator communities, in a statement. “We look forward to their contribution to the Forum’s content work that brings together the public and private sector to tackle these global issues.”

Delahunt has built a career navigating fashion’s digital landscape in positions as Ralph Lauren’s chief digital and content officer and global director of digital and social at Burberry. But at Syky, her role now expanded to ambassador of digital fashion. As such, the WEF invited her to work with global leaders to help address key industry and societal issues.

When asked what she thinks of critics declaring that the metaverse is over, she didn’t blink. For the Syky founder, it’s just a matter of separating the signal from the noise.

“We have all heard the metaverse is dead, but then it was reborn a few weeks ago, rebranded as spatial computing via Apple,” she said. “The reality is, these worlds are blurring… I did the first digital fashion partnership with Bitmoji and Ralph Lauren back in 2020, and within a short amount of time, tens of millions of Bitmojis were wearing Ralph Lauren. It’s this digital way of expressing themselves.

“When you look at the revenue of Fortnight, it is greater than the revenue of Prada, of Bottega, of Burberry,” she added. “So just like take a second on that — the fashion revenue that is on Fortnight is greater than some of the biggest fashion houses that exist today.”

Obviously Delahunt believes fashion’s digital revolution is still very much in play, and she wants to make sure the rising class of luxury designers and brands, like Pet Liger, are prepared for it.

Pet Liger

If the name rings a bell, it may be due to the young brand’s work with Gucci Vault or their collab’s appearance at the Over augmented reality event at the Piazza Del Duomo in March. Such experiences highlight a core theme for Constantinos Panayiotou, the creative force behind Pet Liger, that digital fashion isn’t just continuing on, it’s evolving, necessarily so.

“As our world keeps on shifting towards the digital domain, we’ve got to figure out how to validate the worth within these fresh virtual realms,” said Panayiotou. “Blockchain, also known as Web 3.0, is getting slicker, and more streamlined by the minute. Sure, it’s not perfect … [but] I feel like the space is starting to mature and a lot of the buzzwords are starting to disappear, which is good.

“It’s an inevitable evolution that should be allowed to happen naturally and incrementally. But it’s definitely happening.”

Pet Liger is among the Syky Collective’s first cohort, which the company described as a diverse array of talent hailing from the Dominican Republic, China, Nigeria, Italy and more. In all, the inaugural class represents 10 countries and spans multiple approaches to luxury digital fashion.

The program introduces the cohort as follows:

  • Pet Liger, Cyprus: Breakout Web3 fashion house and design studio disrupting the footwear industry, and was featured as a seminal designer of the Gucci Vault collab.
  • Stephy Fung, United Kingdom: Digital fashion artist who fuses contemporary fashion elements with her Chinese heritage for major brands such as Paco Rabanne, Jo Malone, and Snapchat.
  • GlitchOfMind, Dominican Republic: Visual artist and photographer innovating garment designs through blending VR Sculpting and AI for 3D avatars.
  • Calvyn Dylin Justus, South Africa: Multimedia digital artist inspired by the movements of the natural world and how to create garments and art that bridge these worlds.
  • Taskin Goec, Germany: Mixed reality visionary fusing his technical skills of spatial computing with an avant-garde flair for phygital garments.
  • Fanrui Sun, China: Digital visual artist inspired by ultramodern aesthetics and how to push the boundaries of textiles and fabrics in spatial environments.
  • Nextberries, Nigeria: Elevated fashion house that combines heritage with technology to design unisex apparel with a focus on the metaverse.
  • Gustavo Toledo, Brazil: 3D creative focused on the intersection of science, fashion, and art, and how to make fashion more accessible and intersectional.
  • Felipe Fiallo, Italy: Eco-futurist footwear designer driven by implementing cradle-to-cradle sustainable design principles in the footwear sector.
  • Jacqueline Jade, USA: Immersive technology creator rendering artistic visions in both augmented, virtual, and physical environments.

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