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Interview: Haweya Mohamed | Isabelle Bonnet (Kering Group)

Interview: Haweya Mohamed | Isabelle Bonnet (Kering Group)

Haweya: Good afternoon everyone, my name is Haweya Mohamed, I am the co-founder of Afrobytes and The Colors. I spent 10 years in the entertainment industry. In 2015, I created Afrobytes to meet the needs of African innovation centres by linking African tech ecosystems to international players and also to give African tech a global stage. Afobytes, what I do is to promote African technological sectors and also female entrepreneurship. And today I am very happy to work with Isabelle Bonnet. Isabelle Bonnet is a consultant, she helps innovative companies to make strategic decisions to develop their blockchain approach, through training and POC (proof of concept), and she also pilots their launches. A warm welcome Isabelle, thank you very much for being with us today!

Isabelle: Thanks, Haweya, thank you for inviting me.

Haweya: Isabelle, please, tell us a bit about yourself and what it is that you do at Kering today.

Isabelle: Sure. So right now I’m the COO of Blockchain solutions. Blockchain solutions aims at helping companies grasp all the benefits of blockchain technology. And this is in that context that I’m actually working for Kering. And the philosophy behind blockchain solutions is to make blockchain simple, and to do so I have two approaches: the first one is to do consulting, as you mentioned, which can include training, of course. The second approach is to use softwares and basically solutions that already exist to enable companies to use blockchain in an easy and super fast way. So that is the philosophy of what I do, and I’ve been helping Kering in terms of blockchain since 2018 already.

Haweya: Perfect, but Isabelle, how did you get into blockchain? Because I know that you know this subject so well and you are also a passionate of bitcoin. Why did you choose to focus your expertise on blockchain? And I know also you even wrote a book about it.

Isabelle: Yes, indeed! I indeed wrote a book and it should come out in few days actually, so I’m very proud

Haweya: Congrats!

Isabelle: Thank you, I’m super happy about that. Actually my personal history with blockchain is a little bit random to be honest because: I moved in a street in Paris where there was a monthly meeting of the bitcoin community. And at the end of the year 2017 there was a super strong increase in the prices of the market and therefore a lot of people were coming to the meetup. And in my own street there were like 200, 300 people, I didn’t know why, so I went downstairs, I talked to the people and that’s how I heard about bitcoin actually for the first time. And actually it was a good match for me because I have a background in financial mathematics and I was extremely interested in financial topics and trading and therefore when I started to hear about it, I got completely passionate and few months after, it became a job basically. So I combined my expertise as a strategy consultant, that I had from a previous experience with this patient for bitcoin by working for Kering basically, in the innovation department where I could bring some expertise on blockchain and started to experiment on how we could use this technology for a corporate use case.

11:37

Haweya: Great, great, thank you so much Isabelle! So you know this, this trend of the gamification of fashion. Did you see it coming Isabelle?

Isabelle: Well, actually for me its totally naturally. But very personally because I’m very interested in fashion, and I’m interested in gaming. And actually, I remember when I was seven years old, I was already playing on my computer, and I was playing “Barbie Stylist” which is a fashion game actually.

Haweya: Oh!

Isabelle: Yes, and I used the printer to print clothes that I could then cut and put on my barbie and I loved that! So for me game and fashion are, are totally working well together and I really believe that this trend is gonna become even bigger and maybe one of the reasons why there is not that many fashion games that are so popular right now, there are still some, is potentially because its still a very masculine world I guess? And maybe not many women go into that thing and they don’t think about fashion like women do, maybe in a more fun way. I think maybe for woman, its a game to dress up sometimes. So I totally see that gaming and fashion will, will match and and create a lot of beautiful things in the coming year.

13:08

Haweya: Yes, yes, and we also see that the beauty industry also looks at what is going on you know? In terms of gamification.

Isabelle: Yeah, it’s such a strong trend, gaming, I think it’s bigger now, the gaming industry, video game industry is bigger than cinema, the movie industry and the music industry together.

Haweya: Yes, we will talk about it later on. Thank you so much Isabelle.

Pause

14:18

Haweya: Isabelle, Gucci is the first mainstream brand to support digital fashion. Last month they launched a pair of virtual neon sneakers for just £11, around £11 , designed to be worn on social media. Were you part of the project Isabelle?

Isabelle: To be honest, I wasn’t part of the project. Maybe the reason why is because as I said before, I’m a specialist of blockchain and as you probably saw, it was not a blockchain backed project basically. So I wasn’t part of it but I of course looked at it with a lot of interest and I was one of the first to try it on the Gucci app and I really loved it.

Haweya: Great, and Isabelle would you be ready to pay £200 for an outfit that only exists digitally?

Isabelle: So, £200 I’m not that sure but maybe actually yes. I think so.

Haweya: Yes, because you have a few actors like brand, dress x, who offer a huge range of digital garments you know, for a range of price between £20-£200.

Isabelle: Actually, I think to do so, I would need to have an experience linked to it, that would be you know fun and enthusiasm me. Like for instance, I really like VR. So I have a VR headset at home and I go to some, and I see a lot of potential in VR technology for social experience actually. I think its super fun to talk to people in a VR environment. And for this kind of environment, if I could have a super customized avatar with a super fun and yeah, super fun outfit, I think I would like it.

16:18 Haweya: Perfect, I also read Isabelle that DressX co-founder, she said the following: “All the founders of the digital fashion houses I spoke to believe that digital clothing will only continue to grow, as it hits a widespread audience something these Gucci trainers will definitely help with, as it becomes more mainstream. The ‘Why would anyone buy?’ this question will disappear.” Do you agree with this Isabelle?

Isabelle: Yeah, actually. Personally, I am a very strong believer in digital fashion because I think fashion is a way to express yourself and the digital world is a place to express yourself. So at one point the two will work together for sure. And right now, thanks to blockchain technology, I see a lot of start ups that have a very interesting proposal of creating marketplaces where we could buy clothes and also what they are trying to do is create some links with super fun experiences you could have with those clothes that you buy. So you could wear it in a VR environment. You could see it on yourself AR like Gucci did for the trainers. All these use cases I think they will contribute to this new trend of digital fashion, clearly.

Haweya: Thank you very much Isabelle.

PAUSE

18:18

Haweya: Isabelle, let’s discuss now NFT, non-fungible token and the buzz behind this phenomenon. You are also as we said a bitcoin expert, you already witnessed the huge wave and what do you think of this new trend?

Isabelle: So actually it’s a super interesting question and I’m looking at it a lot at the moment because of the buzz but actually I’ve been looking at it for quite a long time, because I immediately saw the potential of creating digitally something that is unique and transferable. Because for me the, what’s very interesting with blockchain is that you can create digital assets that people can transfer to each other and that makes internet usable for exchange of value, not only information. And in addition to that, with NFT you can exchange something that has value but that is also unique. So that’s super exciting! And something that I recently saw when looking at the NFT market, I saw another benefit of creating the digital asset with NFT: is that its super powerful in the secondary market. If you look at physical items in your life, they, most of them lose value over time because they will deteriorate. Digital assets, they don’t deteriorate by definition.

Haweya: Absolutely

Isabelle: So the digital assets tend to gain value on the secondary market, which makes the NFT even more interesting in the sense that you create something that already has value on the first hand market but that will tend to keep or even increase in value in the longer term.

20:15 Haweya: Very very interesting, thank you Isabelle, it’s very relevant! And recently Isabelle, Vogue magazine asked the following question: “ Will the crypto wealthy, who are mostly young and men, be interested in the luxury fashion NFTs?” What do you think of it?

Isabelle: Well, I like this idea of the crypto-wealthy and I like that we are talking about them in general. And I think that before being a male they are people and probably a lot of women also actually. And there is nobody that can tell what is the gender of the crypto-wealthy because by definition, crypto-owners are anonymous or pseudonyms. A lot of them are actually because a lot of them acquire those crypto a long time ago and they didn’t do it by doing some KYC like we say so they didn’t have to, declare their identity, so I wouldn’t be that presumptuous about saying that it’s only male. But I’m very excited by the fact that yes, there are lots of people that have become rich and that were not rich before and potentially we are living a period of time where there is a huge transfer of wealth, and that’s super exciting. Because you know there was this old world where, where, only a few few people that had all the wealth in the world and there has been a huge transfer recently with crypto currencies and that’s super exciting. And yes I believe that these clients, those people will be clients on luxury fashion and luxury fashion NFTs and actually that is probably what happened, not in fashion but in art. So there has been a huge sale of an NFT done by Christie’s so the artwork was sold 69 million dollars, which is the third biggest sale of a living artist. So it’s completely crazy in terms of amount and the people who bought it, they are actually crypto investors. So those crypto-wealthy exist and are clients of NFT. Whether be clients of luxury fashion NFT, potentially, yes, I don’t see why not.

And when I play with my VR headset for instance, that could be a very interesting use case for digital fashion: when I look at my friends who have the headsets, most of them are in crypto actually. So I totally see a conjunction between those people and the fact they could be luxury fashion NFT buyers.

Haweya: Interesting, very interesting Isabelle. And to finish, there is an interesting quote of Ted Sarandos, the CEO of Netlfix. And he said that he is more worried about Fortnite than Disney. What do you think he is worried about? And should he be worried?

Isabelle: So, actually, I don’t know the context of that quote so it’s a little bit difficult for me to say what he is worried about but so what I could say as interpreted, as possible interpretation: he should be worried that Fortnite would become a much bigger business than Disney. I think he could be worried because Netflix right now is only distributing static experience I would say because they only send movie, distribute movies and TV shows but not game, so it will never, right now Netflix is not able to offer to the _____, who to play fortnite for instance. So he’s worried about that, and potentially worried about the time that people spend on entertainment and the fact that people are spending much more time in terms of entertainment, playing games like fortnite rather than watching Disney movies probably, so.

And that’s one interpretation but another one potentially, is that it’s a question also of society and violence maybe because Fortnite yeah is a lot of violence. Basically its people killing each other if I’m right. And yeah Disney is the opposite of course, it was super kid-friendly and super good vibe I would say. So maybe he’s worried about that

Haweya: Interesting because I didn’t think about it, interesting yes!

Isabelle: But I don’t know, I don’t know, I think about Disney it’s about how we are raising our kids basically. And totally feel that I’m the generation that was raised by Disney movies, and that most of our morals come from there, from all over the world actually. It’s super strong way to connect with people from all over the world, Disney actually, from my experience. And that’s based on very positive thinking and very, you know not killing each other on a game.

Haweya: Yes, totally right. Thank you so much Isabelle for your time. I would like also to thank The Hopenclass and FutureLearn and hopefully we will do another session maybe

Isabelle: Sure, why not ! Thank you and congratulations for your initiative! I believe that training to key for personal development so congrats for that.

Haweya: I agree, thank you so much for that Isabelle.

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Fashion and Gaming: How Luxury Fashion Brands Use Gamification

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