Timbs? In the metaverse? We know what you’re thinking. Is this real? Why yes, yes it is. With the help of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and CONCEPTKICKS, Timberland unveiled a one-of-a-kind design innovation last month centered on Timberland’s CONSTRUCT: 10061 program, through which players and footwear aficionados from around the world can enter the universe of design, creation and innovation. We caught up with Timberland’s CMO, Drieke Leenknegt, to hear how Timberland's collab with Epic Games' Unreal Engine and Concept Kicks helped bring the iconic boots into Fortnite.
How Timberland Made its Way Into the Metaverse with Epic Games Unreal Engine and Concept Kicks
Prepare for takeoff
Time for the breakdown.
Elements of the multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder project included a Timberland Design Lab and Maker Space in Fortnite, where you could get a rare glimpse into Timberland’s footwear innovation and design process by visiting the virtual design lab in Fortnite, along with a Meta Design Workshop.
Timberland Parkour Trails, an immersive gaming experience that took place on custom Fortnite island featuring Arctic, Desert and Forest biomes was also available, and there were even Metaboots and Prototype Boots available as well (both in AR by the way).
We connected with Timberland’s CMO, Drieke Leenknegt to chat about the importance of crossing over fashion design and the metaverse, why Timberland wanted to get involved in the gaming category, how the process of concept to consumer has differentiated with the use of innovative technologies, and plenty more.
ONE37pm: Well this is interesting! Could you talk a little more about this partnership with Epic Games and CONCEPTKICKS?
Leenknegt: Timberland has a 50-year heritage in work and outdoor – and an obsession with craftsmanship and innovation that started with the birth of our original yellow boot back in 1973. CONSTRUCT: 10061, which we launched in 2018 in partnership with CONCEPTKICKS, takes this obsession to a whole new level. It’s an ongoing collaboration that brings together the best footwear innovators from around the world twice a year to rethink everything and push the boundaries of bootmaking. The program includes our own ACE (Advanced Concepts Energy) team designers, Daniel Bailey from CONCEPTKICKS, and amazing guest creators from around the world.
This season, together with industry leaders including Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, Metavision and Beyond Creative, CONSTRUCT:10061 entered the metaverse for the first time, with bootmaking innovation that blends physical and virtual worlds like never before.
We started with our physical workshop at our innovation lab and maker space at our HQ in New Hampshire, which yielded some amazing prototypes. At the same time, we recreated our lab inside Fortnite, and our designers got together with Fortnite builders, inside the game, to build four custom Metaboots in distinct outdoor biomes. We then invited consumers into the world of footwear design innovation through an amazing, immersive gaming experience called Timberland Parkour Trails. You really should try it!
Alongside this, we were able to tap into the extensive Unreal Engine toolbox to digitize and recreate both the physical workshop prototypes and the Fortnite Forest Metaboot in 3D, so that consumers can experience them either in-store or in their space through augmented reality. People had lots of fun playing around with these AR images at our launch event in Milan.
ONE37pm: What is the importance of crossing over fashion design and the metaverse?
Leenknegt: The CONSTRUCT: 10061 x Fortnite game offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to step inside the world of footwear design, creation and innovation. This experience is particularly exciting for footwear afficionados, as it gives them a rare glimpse into Timberland’s footwear innovation and design process. Timberland is a consumer-led brand. We serve our consumers – we call them Adventurous Doers – and we like to be where they are. These days, that’s in the metaverse.
ONE37pm: Why did Timberland want to get involved in the gaming category?
Leenknegt: In today’s digital age, the lines between the physical and digital world are constantly evolving and blurring. For our consumers, it’s one journey. Our consumers are engaged in the gamified world. Then this is where we meet them and where we need to be in order to connect with them in exciting and engaging ways. In choosing our partners, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine was the clear choice! As respective leaders in our industries, together we can really push boundaries and try new things.
ONE37pm: How does the process of concept to consumer differentiate with the use of innovative technologies?
Leenknegt: Timberland uses 3D technology to digitize our entire Go-to-Market process – from concept to consumer – to drive efficiency, reduce waste, foster collaboration amongst creators, and ultimately make our products available to consumers anywhere and anytime, wherever they are. 3D technology and Unreal Engine-powered platforms allow us to connect the physical and virtual worlds through engaging product storytelling that has the potential to reach larger audiences.
From the physical world to the metaverse, today’s consumer is everywhere – and as a brand to be relevant to your consumers, you need to connect with your community in all these places. This project helps us do just that. The process comes full circle with the AR versions of the boots. We’re able to connect cultures and blend physical and digital worlds.
ONE37pm: What can gamers/footwear lovers expect?
Leenknegt: The game is super fun and a bit challenging. Sypher PK was among the first to try it, you should check out his video on YouTube. Also, in front of the giant yellow Metaboot in the Hub area, players can try on a pair of original yellow boots and snap and share a screenshot within the Fortnite environment. And, unlike any other game out there, players have the chance to delve into the footwear design and innovation process.
It’s a very unique take on gaming. As our journey continues, we will seek to build upon what we’ve created thus far, which will hopefully include new experiences and even avatar dressing opportunities. More to come!
Make sure you keep up with everything Timberland has coming in the near future via their Instagram.