In January, SYKY (pronounced “psyche”), a next-generation luxury fashion platform, announced the closing of its $9.5 million Series A funding round. Inspired by Psyche, the Goddess of the Soul in classical mythology who personifies the quest for self-determination in the arts, SYKY has extended this spirit to fashion and technology.
Led by Alice Delahunt, the former Chief Digital & Content Officer at Ralph Lauren and Digital & Social Marketing Director at Burberry, SYKY sees itself as an incubator, marketplace and social community for the next generation of designers and consumers. Delahunt is joined by fashion and technology leaders including Roxanne Iyer, who has driven digital performance for multinational brands such as Estée Lauder’s Clinique; Rachel Crowthe, former Vice President of Creative at Burberry; and NFT and Web3 specialist Jonathan Bennett.
The blockchain-enabled luxury platform will enable digitally-native generations to create, curate, share and trade their fashion collections. A recent report from Roblox and Parsons School of Design examining digital fashion and self-expression trends found that 70 percent of Gen Z’s personal style is influenced by their digital style and that nearly half of Gen Zers look at digital fashion to experiment with new styles in digital and real life.
SYKY’s NFT, “50 Keystones,” will be awarded to aspiring digital designers. The Keystone is also available for purchase on OpenSea and serves as a membership pass to the collective. Holders will have exclusive access to SYKY’s membership space and receive curated insights and in-depth fashion and technology reports, as well as exclusive opportunities for designer collection drops.
We caught up with Alice Delahunt to discuss her aspirations for SYKY, as well as her views on the potential impact of immersive digital environments on the fashion world.
To kick off, could you say a little about the mission of SYKY and how you’re setting out to achieve that?
What we’re aiming to do is equalize creative opportunities in luxury fashion for designers and collectors, as well as build a best-in-class platform for the future of fashion, which we believe is digital, physical, and augmented.
As to why I believe it’s important to equalize opportunities — this has to do with social media. I started off in the fashion industry a decade ago when Instagram and Snapchat were emerging and taking off. The fashion industry had a few incredible photographers, but a very small pool of them.
What social media did was enable anybody with a phone to publish their photography and gain a following based on their merit. It also impacted who saw fashion shows. Merchandisers were able to livestream to a kid in Arkansas and a kid in Tokyo at the same time, creating a feeling that they were part of something more.
Essentially, we saw a remarkable democratization in the industry. I believe this is about to happen in the fashion industry as well. There are a few huge names, but now digital designers are coming on board. As they publish their work they need to be supported to break through and become some of the greats in the next 10 to 15 years. I see SYKY as having a major role in this.
Can you say more about what you learned from the “Instagram democratization” and how you’re incorporating those learnings into the work that you’re doing now?
When you look at the funding allocation specifically around metaverse-based projects, only 5 percent of that funding has gone to women. SYKY is a female-led and female-founded company and we have women and people of color in leadership and across our entire team. This makes us better and it helps us to be more cutting-edge and more thoughtful about the kind of people that we’re looking to onboard into the SYKY community.
Also — and we see this debate unfolding now — the economic value for creators wasn’t necessarily inherently built into Web2 platforms. In the art world, especially. A lot of the greats that we celebrated died poor, and now their works are selling for hundreds of millions of dollars.
I don’t think that’s right, that in their lives they didn’t see or gain economic value from their work. I hope the next generation of design includes those royalty models and mechanisms baked into them to enable both creators and companies to thrive.
How do you see the potential for immersive digital environments influencing how we consume fashion?
Instagram is still rather two-dimensional. I think what immersive environments will do for us is ignite our imaginations in ways that we can’t even imagine what fashion is about.
Imagining walking into a show or a retail environment and having immersive experiences brings those clothes to life in ways that we’ve never seen before. As well as allowing designers to use fashion to express the intangible parts of themselves and challenge how consumers think about and wear clothing to allow everyone to express who they are at their truest selves.
You’ve just announced the closing of your funding round and the launch of your Keystone applications — what else is next for SYKY?
We’re currently focused on incubating our next-generation designers. We’re not looking for people that have come from the best schools or have interned at the best companies; we’re looking for talent, creativity, design, and craft.
Other than that, I can’t say too much — but there’s more exciting news to come!