Welcome back to Now Runway, where we report to you from the frontlines of the digital fashion and luxury revolution. Today you find us in Paris, where we hosted an intimate breakfast celebrating digital fashion and luxury in the lush garden of Hotel La Fantaisie. Having only opened their doors a few weeks ago, we were their first private event, and lingering guests experienced an insider’s tour post breakfast.
Read on to see what you missed outside of Paris and in the digital space, including a new sneaker release from Puma and Roc Nation, Snapchat upgrading their digital avatars’ clothing, and Korean fashion brand Musinsa raising $190 million.
Puma and Roc Nation sneaker release
Sportswear behemoth Puma and entertainment company Roc Nation — established by iconic rapper Jay-Z as a successor to his renowned hip-hop label, Roc-A-Fella Records — have collaborated on a new sneaker range that pays tribute to the progression of the mixtape and incorporates NFTs.
The RS-XL Mixtape sneaker series is the brainchild of designers Alexander-John and Emory Jones. The digital component has been spearheaded by Legitimate, an innovative startup merging physical merchandise with digital experiences through its unique “LGT Tag” technology.
Credit: Puma/Roc Nation
The range showcases three distinct sneaker designs, each inspired by different stages of the mixtape’s evolution and aptly named Cassette Tape, Disc, and Playlist. Every pair of sneakers conceals a unique LGT Tag, backed by blockchain, under the left shoe’s tongue.
This NFC (near-field communication) chip can be scanned using a smartphone to reveal exclusive digital content. Each NFC chip is also linked to an NFT minted by Legitimate using the Avalanche blockchain. The NFT-associated LGT Tags can validate physical items, including footwear and other clothing.
Buyers will also gain access to weekly mixtape releases, a 14-track playlist featuring new music from emerging Roc Nation artists, and “unrestricted behind-the-scenes access to life as a Roc Nation artist.” The label currently represents notable artists such as DJ Khaled, Alicia Keys, Fever 333, and Rihanna. Additionally, owners will have access to a new documentary exploring the history of hip-hop. Puma noted that this release aligns with this year’s wider celebration of hip-hop’s 50-year history.
The Mixtape range of sneakers is available for purchase online or in-store at Puma, Foot Locker, and Champs North American outlets, priced at $130 per pair.
In a press release, Legitimate founder and CEO Calvin Chan shared, “This collaboration is the first time in history that brands of this caliber are leveraging next-generation technology to do more than just sell a product. Collectively, we’re helping tell a story, elevate creators’ voices, and celebrate a movement that has captivated the world for half a century.”
Snapchat’s Bitmoji avatars
Snapchat has announced a new avatar style that brings the Bitmoji to a more immersive 3D level, set to be released worldwide in the upcoming weeks. This refreshed avatar style enhances features such as hair texture, facial shading, and body dimensions. Your Bitmoji can now exhibit a more vibrant smile, a more astounded expression when surprised, and convey even the most intricate emotions.
In addition, Snapchat is enhancing the way you interact with your Bitmoji by introducing advanced editing that lets you adjust your avatar in a 3D space, using zoom and rotation functions for a more detailed view. The process of converting real clothing into Bitmoji apparel involves meticulous attention to detail, right down to the last stitch.
With the introduction of the new avatar, digital clothing will appear much more lifelike, enabling you to express your personal fashion sense on Snapchat as authentically as you would in the physical world. Bitmoji offers a unique way for people to communicate online using an animated, creative storytelling format, and the transition to 3D allows for the creation of the most adaptable avatar yet, better reflecting our diverse global community.
K-fashion platform Musina raises $190 million
South Korean online fashion platform, Musinsa, and global investment powerhouse KKR have officially announced a Series C funding round of $190 million. Musinsa, established in 2001 as an online sneaker community, has evolved into a prominent online fashion marketplace in South Korea, boasting over 8,000 local and foreign designer brands, along with its own in-house label (Musinsa Standard). This positions Musinsa at the heart of South Korea’s creator economy for fashion.
Over time, Musinsa has broadened its scope to incorporate an all-encompassing ecosystem that includes communities, a brand incubator (Musinsa Partners), a direct-to-consumer brand operator, and an offline multicultural lounge (Musinsa Terrace). The latter facilitates face-to-face interactions with customers and offers online-centric fashion brands a physical space for pop-up stores. In 2023, Musinsa earned recognition from Fast Company as one of the “10 most innovative Asia Pacific companies of 2023” for its role in “globalizing K-fashion.”
This deal represents KKR’s inaugural technology growth investment in Korea, aligning with its Asia Next Generation Technology (“NGT”) strategy. This approach aims to back the expansion of groundbreaking, disruptive companies in the Asia Pacific region across key sectors such as software, consumer technology, and FinTech.
Mukul Chawla, Partner and Head of Growth Equity, Asia Pacific for KKR, shared in a press release, “Musinsa has developed itself as a top consumer Internet platform in Korea and a differentiated marketplace by its ability to scale rising brands, enable the creator economy for fashion, engage and provide a high-quality e-commerce experience for customers. We see enormous opportunity for MUSINSA to build on its leading position in a fast-growing K-fashion market that continues to shift online and expand globally on the back of K-culture’s explosive reach.”
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