Fashion and luxury industries show increasing interest in gaming
May 18, 2020
Lockdown has led to an acceleration of numerous trends. Amongst these is the establishment of relations between luxury and fashion brands and the world of gaming. What better platform than the virtual world to encourage thousands of players and potential customers, who find themselves currently unable to shop, to revamp their avatar with clothing and accessories by various brands? Not to mention the incredible springboard offered by video games to allow brands to speak to a very young audience, which is sometimes difficult for them to reach.
Over the past 20 years, brands have started to take an interest in the phenomenon of gaming and explore this new frontier, for example by joining the life simulation game ‘The Sims,’ as with brands Moschino and Diesel, and by opening virtual boutiques in the virtual world of ‘Second Life’ in the early 2000s.
Louis Vuitton recently entered into a partnership with the US-based publisher and developer Riot Games, the business behind the famous ‘League of Legends’ online championship which saw 100 million global e-spectators watch its finale last November. Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière designed an outfit for one of the characters in the game for the finale event, ensuring maximum visibility.
One new game in particular has further fuelled this trend. On March 20, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Japan's Nintendo launched ‘Animal Crossing : New Horizons,’ the latest version of the game it first created in 2001. The game’s reassuring and bucolic universe invites players to go and live on paradise islands and indulge in all kinds of peaceful activities including gardening, DIY, fishing and picnics with neighbours. The game immediately became the star game of lockdown, selling over 10 million units in just a few weeks.
It did not take much to attract fashion brands to the game, especially as this new version of Animal Crossing features increased possibilities for customisation, in particular for dressing up your avatar. The game’s new ‘Pro Designs’ function allows players to create their own outfits by reproducing the trendiest accessories and pieces from their favourite brands. A Prada bob, Supreme t-shirt, Nike baseball cap, Stüssy beanie, and even complete looks from Gucci, Chanel, and Dior are available.
This outpouring of creativity spilled over onto various social media networks as players wanted to share their outfits and dedicated pages were even created. Photographer Kara Chung created the ‘Animal Crossing Fashion Archive’ on Instagram to showcase looks from the game and swiftly garnered thousands of followers. Not forgetting the trend’s precursors, New York-based graphic designers, Richmond Young and Shel Orock, who created the page ‘Crossing the Runway’ in 2014 to recreate iconic looks from the runway and luxury brands for characters in the game and players are able to access them from the account.
This buzz prompted brands including Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Italian streetwear brand GCDS among others to offer their own designs to players of Animal Crossing. These brands offer gamers the ability to access their virtual clothing and accessories for free via special codes which they can obtain from the ‘stories’ section of the brands’ Instagram accounts.
It is of little importance that the outfits available in the game are visually simplified to account for the small size of the characters and their low definition which does not allow designers to create detailed garments. What matters is the power of the brand and its desirability. The world of gaming thus constitutes a clever way for brands to engage with a new type of clientele and to strengthen relationships with pre-existing fans.
In recent years, some brands have not hesitated to create their own games including Burberry, Gucci and Coperni. Italy's Luisaviaroma also just launched the ‘Mod4’ application which combines the experience of shopping with an interactive virtual game. ‘Client players’ are invited to create their own avatar, browse a selection of items offered by the store, and take part in contests with other players.
In an increasingly virtual world, especially at this moment when fashion has been forced to switch even more decisively to the parallel dimension of the web with e-commerce on the rise, digital showrooms and online fashion weeks, gaming offers a new terrain into which businesses can diversify.
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