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Digital fashion collectibles platform Sknups has raised $3.5 million in funding and announced a global gaming partnership with fashion house Dolce & Gabbana.
London-based Sknups (pronounced Skin Ups) is a new digital collecting platform for fashion and beauty designers in a metaverse, a universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, as in novels such as Snowfall as well as Player rental one.
Funding comes from fashion and web3 investors, including angel investors and traditional funds including Redrice Ventures, Blue Wire Capital and Adelpha. Sknups also plans to partner with Dolce & Gabbana to bring their signature Italian style to games.
To commemorate the announcement of Dolce & Gabbana and the launch of the first collection campaign, sknups.com launched a new first digital promotion.
Founded in 2020, Sknups wants to give gamers, cryptocurrencies and fashion lovers the ability to update their skins in the Web2 and Web3 digital worlds. Sknups launched in a hidden open beta in December 2021 and has since signed with global fashion brands and young aspiring streetwear designers like Benny Andallo and James Mack. Sknups will soon announce new collaborations with leading brands and cultural icons.
“We saw an opportunity for brands to move more into the digital world to better connect with Gen Z consumers in places where they entertained and connected,” said Fred Speirs, CEO of Sknups, in an interview with GamesBeat. “And that happens so often in games these days. It was exciting to know how to combine these two worlds.
The mission is to improve online self-expression by offering unique skins and collectibles in people’s favorite games and digital worlds.
“We have a really good team that brings together strong knowledge and experience in fashion, very strong deep technology know-how behind the platform and what we develop, and a lot in the gaming field,” Speirs said. “I came more from the business side of fashion. For nearly ten years I have been a global lifestyle brand analyst. So we’ve covered a lot of the brands we’re talking to and focusing on right now. And then, quite recently, I got into the construction business. And I’m very happy to be running Sknups now.
“We have our first major brand that we can talk about publicly in Dolce and Gabbana. So we felt it was time to come in and talk about it,” Speirs said. “We have a super scalable technology platform. We have ambition to be able to create reproducible and scalable droplets for partners. »
The Sknups team has created a proprietary Web2/Web3 hybrid platform that combines the highest quality digital production with vast metaverse reach:
- A world-class team creates digital collectibles with 3D haute couture models crafted in the Sknups metaverse workshop.
- The Sknups platform is designed for billions of users and includes Airdrop tools that provide democratic Drop access for the entire fan community, Solana green NFTs for collectors, social agility tools, Web2/Web3 game fan linking and integrations.
“Brands and creators who want to have a scalable presence in digital worlds must strike a balance between premium and access,” Speirs said. “Fashion in the metaverse must be accessible to more than just a small group of celebrities and wealthy VIPs in order to bring the transformative power of style and craftsmanship to the next generation of fans.”
Luc Alvarez, co-founder of Hiro Capital, is the co-founder and chairman of Sknups. Other founders include Spears, Simon Lowe, and gaming technology innovator Alistair Hopkins. The team has 20 people scattered around the world, some of which are based in London.
Switch to games
Former Ubisoft esports leader and gaming veteran Robb Chiarini helps maintain the company’s relationships with the gaming ecosystem and game publishers.
“We’re in various stages of internal discussions about how they deal with things like in-game skins and splash screens and everything else we’re trying to deliver,” Chiarini said. “I’d say there’s quite a lot of interest, but there are different levels of readiness.”
Chiarini said that skins have been around in games for a long time, and there are now showcases for digital skins and even physical goods inside games. But things are changing very quickly, he said.
Linking Web2 and Web3
Speirs said the company is looking to address issues from multiple angles. According to him, the company brings together desired brands and creators and then connects them to the gaming experience.
“We’re making it easy and making it so that both parties can trust and want to move forward,” Speirs said.
The company is getting into the Web2 realm by creating digital collectibles. And it offers the ability to embed this digital collectible with a non-fungible token (NFT). But right now, that’s not something every brand should be doing, Speirs said.
“Every brand we talk to and every game we talk to has a different approach to NFT,” Speirs said. “An important part of our solution is that we have the flexibility to integrate a very wide range of consumers. If any stakeholder wants to bring this to the NFT, we can do it. But we don’t have to.
In this way, Sknups allows partners to decide if their clients are ready for NFT. In gaming, NFTs have met with some resistance from gamers and game developers. But others are more receptive to the idea of using blockchain to authenticate unique digital items.
To NFT or not to NFT
I noticed how many players reacted badly to NFT announcements from Ubisoft, Team 17, GSC Gameworld, etc.
“It’s an interesting question because space is evolving, interests are evolving and products are evolving,” Chiarini said. “Our space is made up of digital collectibles. NFTs may not be the direction these different brands are heading. At our core, we are a digital collectible. And we’re working with various gaming initiatives to bring brands into the game. It doesn’t necessarily mean in-game NFTs. I think the space is changing.
Speirs said Web3 has limited reach right now, and the company wants to bring its products to a wider group of people.
“Web3 is very interesting, but it has a smaller target audience than Web2,” Speirs said. “That’s why it’s important for us to have a hybrid solution. We want crypto and fashion fans to be able to update their skins and avatars in the web2 and web3 worlds as we don’t want to be exclusive to a subset of them. As the business grows, as the environment changes, of course, we will respond to this.
In the metaverse?
In a way, brands see the Metaverse as a kind of Wild West. They may want to move to a user-generated content (UGC) platform, but may find that the brand has been hacked and is already on those platforms.
Going back to the old days: “You always had this question if you object to people making counterfeit goods or physical items. And often the conclusion was, well, no, it’s not, because at least it means you’re a popular brand and people are in awe of you,” Speirs said.
Brands have different opinions on this. Speirs says they want to control their own brand but are very clear about the importance of reaching out to the gaming community. The question is how to make the metaverse safe for brands and help them maintain quality through things like user-generated content.
“It’s not about the old ways of communicating,” he said. “It’s about finding the right ways to empower communities so that they really participate in the conversation. And for us, that’s why we don’t want to be just a platform. We are also a partner that really helps connect these two very different worlds. »
Speirs knows that some brands jump right into playing without partners. Gucci is one example. But others are looking to Sknup to speed up their entry into the metaverse, Speirs said.
“We are a great way for brands to start moving into this space,” Speirs said. “At the same time, we also want them to have a great experience with us.”
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