KEY TAKEAWAYS / 07.04.2024

Daily news and stories covering everything from the Fashion System, Investment, and AI to WEB3 and Crypto that truly matter in Metaverse Fashion.


💳 Nik Storonsky spent the past decade shaking up banking with his financial services firm Revolut. Now the billionaire former Lehman Brothers trader is looking to pull off a similar feat in venture capital.

💸 Storonsky has built a quantitative investment firm for early-stage companies that relies on algorithms and artificial intelligence over human input to source deals. Founded in 2022, QuantumLight has invested in almost a dozen startups in the past year after raising about $200 million for a debut fund that Storonsky anchored.

💰 Revolut disclosed its 2023 results this week, showing that revenue almost doubled to $2.2 billion. A timely release of its audited financial results could help the company win approval of a UK banking license, which has been long delayed, partly over Revolut’s accounting problems.

💎 While several venture funds have used AI models to sift through potential deals, those tools aren’t as critical as an investor network, said Claudia Zeisberger, a senior affiliate professor for entrepreneurship at business school Insead.
[fashion system]
The Business of Fashion

👜 When nylon bag maker Baggu debuted its collaboration with the equally buzzy label Collina Strada last week, the two brands were expecting a smash hit. Ahead of the release, their young online fans fawned over the psychedelic prints and a horse-shaped purse in the collection — styles that exemplify Collina Strada’s irreverent aesthetic.

💲 The capsule is selling well, according to Baggu chief executive Emily Sugihara. But on social media, the collection, which includes Baggu’s signature reusable shopping bags, pouches, towels and a tent, met a more mixed response. Some consumers expressed anger and disappointment over the use of generative artificial intelligence by Collina Strada, pointing to the technology’s implications for the livelihood of artists as well as its potential impact on the environment.

👨‍🏭 Even amid these controversies, the fashion industry has embraced the tool with more or less open arms. In a survey of industry executives, 73 percent said generative AI would be a key priority for their business this year, according to BoF’s 2024 State of Fashion Report.

🌅 AI’s critics often point to potential replication of copyrighted designs from artists without compensation or credit. Others are concerned about AI replacing human designers. The most vocal of Baggu’s critics called attention to the energy-intensive process required to train AI models. Researchers from the University of Washington estimate that training a large language model emits over 55 times more carbon dioxide than the average person’s annual carbon dioxide emissons.

🔮 Brands that incorporate AI, whether in the product development process or elsewhere, need a clear communication strategy to convince customers that the tool is being used in responsible ways.

😇 “People are just scared. It’s a new thing, and it’s different, and a lot of people don’t understand it,” said Sugihara ,professor and director at the Fashion Law Institute. “I always wish that we had done an even better job of communicating that so nobody was confused, and we take total responsibility for that.”
[fashion system]
Fashion Network

🕷 The European Union is working on a proposal to impose import duties on cheap goods bought from online platforms outside the bloc, a move that would primarily target Chinese retailers such as Temu, AliExpress and Shein, according to people familiar with the matter.

🌵 The EU currently has a €150 ($161) duty-free threshold for online purchases that’s meant for small gifts or personal packages but that has enabled a surge in small-value imports from those platforms, the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

🍁 While it remains to be seen if there’s consensus across member states to take action, the effort adds to the growing momentum of protectionism against Chinese companies as its cheaper goods threaten local producers. This month, the EU will introduce provisional tariffs of as high as 38% on Chinese electric vehicles.

🌲 Still, inflation across the US and Europe means that there’s substantial demand among consumers for the cheap wares sold by platforms like PDD Holdings Inc’s Temu and those operated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The rise of Shein has taken market share from European apparel retailers like Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex’s Zara, while Amazon is planning to launch its own low-cost online storefront.
The Interline

🦄 What’s your working definition of AI? Does it differ from the public understanding, which is currently dominated by large language models and generative text-to-image models? And how does that definition manifest itself in your solution(s)?

🐊 My definition of AI is centered on its role as a transformative tool that elevates ideas over traditional hard skills such as manual painting, writing or using complex graphic editors. AI allows individuals to express and communicate their creative visions without spending hundreds of hours mastering these skills. This democratization of creative expression makes AI a great equalizer, giving more people the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, regardless of their background or technical skills. But while AI opens up new possibilities, success in this new era still requires a deep understanding of your field. Think of it as becoming an “art director” in whatever field you’re working in, whether it’s fashion design, footwear design, product design, or any other creative industry. Having access to AI tools like the ones we’re developing at NewArc.ai doesn’t replace the need for a solid grounding in the principles of good design and aesthetics. You can have the best tools, but without the right knowledge and vision, the result may not reach its potential.

🦄 Over the last decade, a lot has been asked of designers when it comes to learning specialised skills and new tools in order to bring their ideas to life – and communicate them to other stakeholders – more quickly. How do you think about the way that progress in design has become something of a productivity and technology treadmill? And can AI provide an alternative pathway to shortening the distance between idea and visualisation?

🐊 In recent years, the fashion and footwear industries have become increasingly more fast-paced. Designers are expected to produce more designs in less time, a demand that can be quite exhausting and potentially stifling for creative professionals. This push for productivity often results in sacrificing the creative, artistic part of the designer’s job, leading to designer burnout – and lack of fresh ideas, which can be very harmful to the world of fashion and footwear. Historically, tools like Procreate, Illustrator, Photoshop, CLO, and Browzwear have been instrumental in helping designers become more efficient. However, mastering these tools involves a significant learning curve and the visualization process can still consume many hours. Now, in the AI era, we’re seeing a shift. A wave of new startups, alongside established software developers integrating AI features, are aiming to reduce the burden of tedious tasks, allowing designers to focus more on the creative aspects of product creation.
[value proposition]

💱 Telegram launched a digital currency called Stars for in-app use last month. Now, the company is expanding its use cases to paid content. The chat app is also allowing channels to convert the stars they have to Toncoin — the cryptocurrency Telegram uses over The Open Network (TON) blockchain. Alternatively, they can use them to get discounts for channel promotions.

⭐ The app is also allowing channel owners to withdraw Stars and convert them to Toncoin using the Fragment platform. If you have Toncoin, you can trade crypto through various exchanges and transfer money to your bank account. Notably, Telegarm has been using this portal to auction usernames over the TON blockchain.

👨‍💼 In a quest to reach a billion active users and become profitable, Telegram has added a lot of business-centeric features — such as allowing small businesses to add location and opening hours — this year so they can choose this platform over something like WhatsApp. In April, the company also introduced features like customized start pages, predefined greeting and away messages, and support for chatbots for businesses.
Alexis Beck for Metaverse Fashion MAGAZINE

✈ Two weeks ago, I traded my Parisian academic studies for the innovative landscape of Silicon Valley.

🕸 From a Metaverse perspective, there’s an interesting dynamic: both Parisians and Silicon Valley residents see each other as somewhat provincial. To the Champs-Élysées bourgeois, Americans could learn from the French subtlety in color coordination. In Paris, clothing is more than just functional; it's a statement. Fashion, as a social phenomenon, truly blossomed in Paris post-World War II. Parisian fashion is infusing meaning into social life through attire, as Roland Barthes articulates in "Le système de la mode."

🌵 On the flip side, Californians often view Paris and Europe as provincial compared to Silicon Valley. They argue that Europe’s architectural beauty and sophisticated sense of style are no longer relevant. Today, humanity's forefront is in developing artificial intelligence, the Metaverse, which is all found in Silicon Valley.

⚖ Both Paris and Silicon Valley hold valid viewpoints. Paris remains a stronghold of Western philosophical and historical traditions, while California brings something unprecedented: a virtual empire, a global technological network.

🏇 Let’s move beyond the "either/or" of Paris and Silicon Valley. As Metaverse Fashion trailblazers, we believe in the inevitable symbiosis of these two worlds. Fashion needs to integrate physical items with digital assets, and the Californian tech world desperately needs Parisian refined taste and aesthetic harmony. With real-world experiences diving into virtual ones, your virtual avatar’s fashion will become crucial. In a virtual society with its own economic and legal frameworks, appearance will be a primary way to stand out.

🤖 The future will seamlessly merge Parisian fashion with Californian tech, creating something entirely new. Stay tuned as Metaverse Fashion Magazine guides you through these transformative times, leading to a unified world of Fashion and Tech.

💥 As the person in charge of Metaverse Fashion Magazine, I am thrilled to launch this op-ed section and invite all leaders and pioneers of Metaverse Fashion to contribute to our community, regardless of your age, status, or location. One of the key aspects of the Metaverse, regardless of your views on the term, is its openness and readiness to share knowledge. From a Metaverse perspective, both Paris and Silicon Valley could be seen as "somewhat provincial."