Jen Herranz is a video game communicator and gamer. A little over a year ago, when Spain was confined by the coronavirus pandemic, she received an offer to be the organizer of a Fashion show on her island of Animal Crossing. He had to take care of getting all the objects, like the spotlights and the chairs. “And for the designers to mess with their virtual characters on my island and have a show with their designs.” In the end, the initiative did not go ahead but it was not the first time that the Fashion brands are entering the video game sector and on platforms like Twitch. And it will not be the last one.
Net-a-Porter has recently partnered with Animal Crossing: New Horizons so that avatars can have available five looks inspired by the Isabel Marant collection. Balenciaga launched its FW21 collection through the video game Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. Y Louis Vuitton has released a capsule collection in League of Legends. Fashion brands veered toward video games a while ago, and the pandemic did the rest. Also viral phenomena such as Ibai Llanos and the rise of Twitch, which has turned these spaces into a great business opportunity.
Net-a-Porter Collection for Animal Crossing: New Horizons
In the pandemic, the audiences of video games and eSports soared and with it the advertising interest. “The most audacious fashion brands began collaborating earlier and the coronavirus was the time to crystallize alliances,” Óscar Soriano, co-founder of Play The Game, an agency specializing in video games and eSports, told Hypertextual.
For Soriano, a decisive factor for the increase in collaborations between fashion and video games it’s the end of a stigma. The one that pigeonholed gamers as “geeks” with acne and glasses. «Right now gaming has become widespread. Mostly thanks to Twitch. Everyone under 40 has played a video game, “and he continued,” It’s a mainstream thing and fashion brands have noticed. “
Brands such as Burberry or Balenciaga would thus reach an audience that is not so controlled, but the way they advertise their collections is different. The co-founder of Play The Game underscored the importance of generate value for players.
«It is not worth putting the logo too large, brands have to think about what they are going to contribute to gaming platforms. Communities are very grateful to brands, but with those that generate good content and experiences.
Óscar Soriano, co-founder of the Play The Game agency
Goodbye to the exclusivity of fashion brands
Louis Vuitton is one of the brands that understood this concept very well and opened the ban on video game collaborations with the design of the Trophy Case for the Summoner’s Cup, the League of Legends World Cup trophy. The opportunities to make a difference in this sector are, for now, endless.
Fashion-related companies have changed the way they approach the public over the years
«The fashion sector is eminently visual. And that of videogames, such as the world of photography, offers valuable tools for firms to present their collections ”, stated Laura Suárez, director of the Master of Fashion and professor at IADE. The strategy of fashion brands has also changed in recent years and, Suárez explained, that notion of exclusivity that was previously associated with this sector has changed.
Gamer aesthetics and virtual reality are increasingly part of advertising strategies. And the coronavirus pandemic has taught companies a great lesson; that of the need for “Hybridize” the digital world. In the world of fashion, not only large firms such as Louis Vuitton or Burberry have jumped on the bandwagon. So have others like H&M and Uniqlo. On May 17, the Japanese network released a limited edition League of Legends themed t-shirts.
Video games and the burden of a stigma
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
Even greats like Inditex entered the world of video game t-shirts. Although some brands do not launch the same for men and women. Communicator Jen Herranz recalled that in one of the Inditex stores, Worldcraft t-shirts were only for boys, Sailor Moon t-shirts for girls. At Primark, T-shirts with Super Nintendo and PlayStation logos he bought them in the men’s section. Within videogames, however, the reality seems to be different.
Despite the fact that the number of women and men who play video games is practically equal, some people continue to associate gaming with the male gender. In the same way that they can relate the world of fashion to women. These generalizations, virtually no data to back it up, They do not seem to be, despite everything, a challenge for brands that have formed alliances with video games such as League of Legends and Animal Crossing.
Laura Suárez opined that these differentiated notions are increasingly out of date and fashion brands have taken notice.
«The gamer world is an interesting tool to dismantle all the rigid gender codes that had been creeping in since the 20th century. Not only the fact that by choosing your avatar, you can choose your physical attributes, hair color or even clothes, but also more and more characters that have a cyborg or ambiguous aesthetic, in any case not binary. In that sense, the gaming strategy is also interesting for brands, echoing these challenges in terms of gender that are taking place on a social level.
Laura Suárez, director of the Master of Fashion and teacher at IADE
«Geeks» and videogames
Suárez’s statements are also in accordance with the end of the stigmas related to video games to which Óscar Soriano referred. In this regard, the eSports player Laura Muñoz, also known as Aryenzz, added that it has always been thought that people who played video games were geeks or “adult people with childish personality who did not mature.” «My mother thought it was not a girl thing and that it was only intended for the little ones, “he told Hypertextual. “That is why many some media have only spoken badly about these issues although I am seeing, both on TV and radio and others, that they have a greater involvement because they want to understand that space and try to make it known.
Collaborations between video games and brands are a way to approach a different audience
In general, Muñoz has seen that these collaborations have been well received, especially because they help to increase acceptance of the world of eSports in the “real” world and it is a way of getting closer to another type of public.
An example of the acceptance by gamers of the entry of brands in video games is Marbella Vice, the video game of Ibai Llanos on the GTA server. In the game, the Police textures in English were changed to those of the National Police and gamers could enter El Corte Inglés to buy clothes. The formula worked and has been a hit on Twitch.
The perfect marriage
Brands are the first interested in being part of this world that attracts millions of people. But for video games it also has many advantages. Maye McSwiney, Marketing and Communication Director of Riot Games for Spain, Portugal and Italy, defined this relationship to Hipertextual as a win-win.
“Fashion brands are interested in getting closer to the world of gaming that is constantly growing and that they find inspiring or fascinating. We at Riot Games are interested in offering quality products that allow our fans to show their love for the game beyond the screens. “
Maye McSwiney, Marketing and Communication Director of Riot Games for Spain, Portugal and Italy
Riot Games wants to offer fans different ways to show their love for the game and the characters. And so far his methods of doing this seem to have worked. Campaigns such as League of Legends for H&M and Uniqlo have paid off and been well received by video game fans. For McSwiney, this is explained because they feel that their passion for the game has an expression beyond the screen. “And it transcends a broader cultural / emotional / expression level.”
The Riot Games and fashion collaborations began in 2019 and after hits like the Louis Vuitton campaign, nothing indicates that this alliance could weaken. Beyond commercial interests, this marriage expands, in the words of Maye McwSwiney, the culture of gaming and brings this world closer to an audience that may not be very familiar with the video game industry. And that he is curious, being able to “fall in love.”
Brands don’t want to be left behind
Fiction has already surpassed reality in some ways. And anyone who has not seen it coming is in danger of being left behind. This is not the case with brands like Gucci. On the online video game platform Roblox, players have paid for a handbag from the exclusive brand more than $ 4,000 through the Gucci Garden Experience. The bag, however, retails for $ 2,450 in physical format.
“Always digital, never physical” is the motto of The Fabricant, a clothing brand that can only be used in digital environments. Selling pieces that do not exist, or that at least we cannot touch, is fashionable. So much so that The Fabricant managed to sell one of their dresses for $ 2,000 at auction. The barrier between what we can only physically see or touch gets smaller. This phenomenon is currently being fueled by the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Even when it comes to influencers. In recent years, Instagram has become one of the most effective tools for fashion brands thanks to collaborations with influencers. María Pombo, Laura Escanes or Alexandra Pereira are some of the examples. But the digital has also imposed in this sector.
Lil Miquela has 3 million followers. He has done collaborations with brands like Prada and Chanel. But she is not a real woman. Vogue named her “the fictional girl of the moment” in 2019 and since then her popularity has not stopped growing. In addition to collaborating with different fashion brands, she is also an advocate for movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBT rights. The creators of Lil Miquela have managed to attract an investment of up to 125 million dollars from the Spark Capital startup fund.
They are no longer just runway models. Or exclusive events to present the new collections. The world of fashion has not been indifferent to a change that has affected all sectors. In the case of fashion brands, this also happens through an alliance with video games that not everyone saw coming.