Gucci Gaming Academy seeks to cultivate new esports talent

For the past several years, major luxury fashion companies have allocated more resources to gaming and esports in an effort to connect with younger consumers. Last year, Italian fashion house Gucci teamed up with UK-based esports org Fnatic to promote a collaborative fashion line. Gucci is likely pleased with the results generated by its investment into esports, as last month the company doubled down on the space by announcing its own Gucci Gaming Academy, an initiative launched in partnership with online tournament platform Faceit.

The Academy states that it’s “empowering the champions of tomorrow” by helping to develop new esports talent and accelerate their career paths. The program, which runs across North America and Europe, currently uses CS:GO as its esport of choice but will be expanding with other games in the future. Players in the Academy will gain cutting-edge equipment and full-time mentorship from coaches, with the aim of attaining a professional contract in the future. Because of Gucci’s partnership with Faceit, the Academy will be looking at millions of active players on the Faceit platform to scout prospective talent, who will then be invited to interviews by coaches.

Additionally, the Gucci Gaming Academy is placing special emphasis on players’ mental health and wellbeing – a sometimes overlooked facet of being an esports professional. The initiative has teamed with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a key advisor on creating individual and group sessions led by psychologists who will discuss teamwork, performing under stress, dealing with the spotlight, and more.

“Gucci is at the forefront of the luxury industry’s foray into the world of gaming and as part of our mission to build meaningful relationships with communities in a genuinely authentic way, we are dedicated to supporting the up-and-coming generations of players to help manage the challenges they may face as a result of participating in esports,” Nicolas Oudinot, EVP of new business and chief executive of Gucci Vault, explained to The Drum.

According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, it makes sense for luxury brands to attach themselves to the world of gaming and esports, as many gamers have shown an inclination towards high fashion. Gucci, in particular, appears to have a first-mover advantage in the space, as Interpret’s data shows that a third of esports competitors have purchased from Gucci in the past three months and nearly a quarter of esports viewers have done the same. Other major fashion brands have also seen interest but lag by several percentage points behind Gucci when it comes to purchasing.

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