During a period of heightened awareness for equality and inclusiveness, Christian Louboutin will this week be expanding its flesh-colored Nudes collection into new digital corners, namely the Drest fashion game app.
The developer will be adding four of the Louboutin collection’s spring 2020 shoes, as well as a handbag, as game assets available for players to style in the app. The update — slated to launch on Tuesday through Google Play and Apple’s App Store — will cover a high-heel slide, a sandal, a low ankle boot and a satin evening sneaker, a first of its kind available in Nudes.
The business partnership today arrives as a natural extension of a long-standing relationship between friends Louboutin and Drest creator, founder and chief executive officer Lucy Yeomans, who is a former fashion editor.
“I have had the pleasure of working with — and getting to know — Christian over a number of years,” said Yeomans. She waxes poetic about the designer’s craftsmanship and talent, as well as the “creative, playful and innovative way he approaches storytelling for his brand.”
That admiration led to Louboutin being among the first people she consulted about her business concept. As the work evolved, those conversations continued and birthed a new business arrangement.
“When Lucy came to me about Drest, they were about to launch a range of new avatars from all skin colors and all body types,” Louboutin told WWD. “It completely resonated with the way I see the world, the DNA of my company and the Nudes collection I had launched back in 2013. At that time there wasn’t really any kind of ‘mediatized’ discussions on this topic, which completely changed since then, and it’s for the best.”
In February, Drest rolled out avatars to address representation for women of color, as well as of different sizes, going from the initial eight characters in October 2019 to 12. The company hopes to cover more age ranges in the future as well, in addition to someday developing a “selfie” avatar, something Yeomans believes would be “a game changer.”
Meanwhile, at Christian Louboutin, the designer’s Nudes collection grew from its original five flesh tones to eight colors this spring, alongside new options for men’s styles. All eight of the colors will be available across the shoe styles coming to the app.
“I truly think it’s our responsibility as people having a voice to use all the ways we can to address these subjects,” Louboutin explained. “This partnership is one of them, with a lighter and more playful touch.”
In addition to having Christian Louboutin product to play with, complete with those iconic red soles, Drest players will also be able to indulge in related brand challenges and multiple opportunities to acquire in-game credits.
“Our users will be presented in-game with two dedicated Christian Louboutin styling challenges — one photo shoot and one mood board,” Yeomans explained. “They will be encouraged to interact with the brand virtually across eight touch points within the Drest platform, including being shown the Nudes campaign video in our home feed. Users who watch it in full are rewarded with 5,000 Drest Dollars.”
Another challenge has Louboutin himself judging user creations and selecting 10 of his favorites to receive 2,500 Drest Dollars. The credits will be applicable to unlocking in-app features, though not actual product purchases. Shopping transactions are handled either directly by the brands or the Farfetch marketplace.
Drest features several designer brands, most of which come through its partnership with Farfetch, though it has also managed to strike direct partnerships with the likes of Puma, Gucci and most recently Oscar de la Renta.
So it may surprise some that the game is technically still in a soft rollout or “early access” phase, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic scuttling plans for an official rollout in March. Software in this stage is usually considered in development, so more testing, refinements and other changes could come to the app before it fully launches.
One of the more intriguing changes on the way are plans to bring top models into Drest, along with other figures from the entertainment world, this fall.
“They are key figureheads and advocates for philanthropic causes and important movements,” said Yeomans. “There is a fundamental shift happening and a clear need for change to create a better world. We have pledged to match 50 percent of revenue earned by the ‘Supers’ in-game and donate this to their respective causes.”
The company also pledges to donate 5 percent of in-app revenues beyond break-even to charities supporting diversity and inclusion, female empowerment, mental health, positive body image, sustainability and digital responsibility.
As for Louboutin, he’s well aware of how COVID-19 has changed the landscape and accelerated fashion’s digital adoption.
“I really have the feeling with the confinement that we started the year 2020 to wake up into 2025,” he said. “There is definitely an acceleration toward technology due to the fact that it was almost the only way not only to consume but also to communicate.”
This feeling could translate to the brand moving more into gaming. When asked if the world could expect more initiatives like this from the company, Louboutin remarked, “I hope so. I’m very curious how gaming can democratize the access to fashion to a wider range of people, in a very different way.
“It sounds like it’s an infinite field of possibilities,” he continued, “with many different levels to involve a target of consumers we don’t reach through classical channels, that’s endless.”