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Farfetch’s all-Web3 accelerator focuses on digital fashion

Farfetch is throwing its weight behind Web3. In July, it said their Dream Assembly Base Camp accelerator programme would be fully focused on Web3 fashion startups, in partnership with Outlier Ventures. Now, it’s announced the eight companies that will participate in the first 12-week camp. Out of 200 applicants, Altr, Curie, Iindyverse, Metav.rs, Mintouge, Reblium, Sknups and WearNFT were selected.
Farfetch was looking for founders that show “next-wave thinking” in key areas of digital fashion and immersive experiences, says Carol Hilsum, senior director of product innovation at Farfetch. The goal was to onboard a diverse array of startups, all of which were past the ideation stage — Farfetch wanted companies ready to build further, not from scratch.
Some are focused on new customer use cases; Altr is focused on the potential of fractional ownership, says Hilsum, working to digitise and alter archival fashion, while contributing to physical archival preservation. Metav.rs and Iindyverse are building immersive experiences. The former is a management platform providing tools to create metaverse experiences, and the latter helps musicians, artists and designers to build Web3 experiences and campaigns.
Infrastructure-driven startups looking at how best to scale the tech were also a focal point. E-commerce plug-in Mintouge enables brands to onboard their product catalogues to Web3 and create digital twins. Sknups creates collectible skins for cross-platform gaming. WearNFT is an NFT platform geared towards luxury players, providing brands creation, curation and monetisation services. All three are all focused on how to scale Web3 technology, though they’re coming at challenges posed by this tech from different angles, proposing different solutions, says Hilsum.
Reblium and Curie are geared towards 3D and avatar assets that make Web3 technology work — and making these “beautiful” with “high aesthetics and scalability”, says Hilsum. Reblium builds hyper-realistic avatars, and Curie converts existing physical products to 3D assets to be worn in digital worlds. This taps into wider debates in the fashion world about Web3 aesthetics, what counts as cool, and where this technology fits into an industry that can be averse to change.
The accelerator is in keeping with Farfetch’s intent to establish itself as the tech infrastructure of the fashion world. With Farfetch Platform Solutions, the company is working to become the “global platform for luxury”, founder and CEO José Neves said after a 2021 earnings call. Its recent acquisition of Yoox Net-a-Porter, which had its own tech hub but will now use FPS services, bolsters the company’s tech presence.
This Web3 accelerator underscores how influential Web3 technologies will be on the future of fashion. “We’re really focusing on creating those connections between brands and new technology,” Hilsum says. In this case, Farfetch wants to bridge the gap between digital and Web2 and Web3 in order to develop a “building block” for Web3 luxury strategy, as Neves said following the YNAP acquisition announcement.
The companies that applied provided some key insights indicative of interest in the potential of Web3 tech. Hilsum notes the multitude of Web2 founders moving into the Web3 space. Not only was there a high level of startup experience, but fashion experience as well. “It’s interesting to see people either transition over or be advisors as well,” she says. This is promising, as it’s an indicator of both eagerness to build into the Web3 space and developments in industry understanding.
In a departure from past Farfetch Dream Assembly programmes, Base Camp is fully virtual — a fitting approach for an exclusively Web3-geared offering. Metaverse innovation lacks a centralised hub, illustrated by the global origins of the participating startups, including the US, UK, Hong Kong, France and the Netherlands.
Over 50 mentors will help to educate the companies on all things Web3 and fashion — a “dream group” of experts, Hilsum says. Some are Web3-native digital fashion founders, including The Dematerialised co-founder Karinna Grant, DressX co-founders Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, and The Fabricant co-founder Adriana Hoppenbrouwer-Pereira. Other mentors include industry leaders such as Megan Kaspar, MD of crypto and blockchain investment and incubation firm Magnetic, and education-focused contributors from Learning Lab Paris and the Edinburgh Futures Institute.
The 12-week accelerator programme will educate startups on the key factors at the intersection of fashion and Web3, such as use case design and token economics and structures, with the view of working closely with them in the future. The accelerator is also designed to get startups investor-ready, helping them to nail down their company stories and pitches.
Industry leaders are keen to help. “Dematerialised was an early mover in the space and we built our business on Marjorie [Hernandez] and I’s intuition and experimentation, as there were no similar companies before us,” Grant says. “The Web3 fashion community is tight and we have always been close to our direct competitors, often helping each other out and collaborating in a way that Web2 businesses just don’t.” Hilsum considers this enthusiasm an exciting signal for the future of innovation and pace within the fashion, tech and Web3 space.
Grant thinks of the programme as a formalised way to facilitate both experimentation and mutual support. Plus, it will benefit veteran Web3 innovators as well. “Because this sector is still relatively nascent, the learnings are two way, which makes it a win-win for both mentors and mentees — as well as for the programme owners,” she says.
Farfetch, says Hilsum, is looking at what comes next. “It’s not enough to just create an NFT,” she says. “We’re really looking for people that are building scalable, long-term projects, so that’s what we were focused on in this cohort.” Scepticism is healthy, she says, in that it’s the industry asking “what’s next?” It’s Farfetch’s hope that this cohort will help to answer that question.Read more at:white formal dresses australia | Formaldress au