The evolution of technology and changes in preferred leisure activities have shaped the marketing strategies of many industries and these changes still keep them on their toes. In this article, I will try to explain the relationship between luxury high-fashion brands and video games.
For many, one of the most crucial aspects of game design is graphic quality, which has improved immensely over the last few years. Nowadays, games have to be more than just a source of entertainment because the market is over-saturated, and the bar is high. Game developers go to great lengths to attract the consumers’ attention, and many do so by mending the border between entertainment and art to provide the best experience possible.
A great example of this is Red Dead Redemption II, which stole the hearts of even the most judgemental critics, and as a result, was named “the best-looking video game of all time.” Many have claimed that playing the game is almost like watching a movie, and the main character feels like a sentient being. Such qualities make players connect to the game on an almost personal level. It is just one example out of the many, but it determines how far technological development has progressed.
Video games are now the most popular they’ve ever been, and the number of consumers steadily grows each year, with the current number of around 2.8 billion. For this reason, many industries see it as an attractive, lucrative market – one of them being the fashion industry.
While the interest of the high-fashion sector in video games sparked relatively recently, the games’ obsession with looks is nothing new! What’s more – it plays a crucial part in many games – sets the atmosphere, tells players who the characters are, their traits, and much more…
Furthermore, video games do not have to be subject to the laws of physics or practicality, which allows games designers to use any means necessary to create a unique experience. In my opinion, it is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it allows to create and explore impossible designs like Heel Guns worn by the main character of “Bayonetta.” On the other hand, it adds to the sexual objectification of female characters by dressing them in skimpy armors, which are impractical and only aim to appeal to a particular type of fantasy, like in an RPG “TERA.” That is not, however, what I want to discuss in this article, so let me retract…
With endless ways of connecting via the Internet, many treat playing games as a social activity, which creates a need for self-expression, just like in the physical world. My research concluded that the character customization options can be rather important to the players and most of them stated that the unattractive design actually bothers them, as it can ruin the whole atmosphere. Obviously, it does not apply to every game because, according to what I have learned, some games are not serious enough or have been created a while ago and outdated outfits induce a warm feeling of nostalgia.
The high-fashion sector realized that the popularity of the games among younger generations, the lucrativeness of the industry, the need for self-expression, and technological possibilities are good reasons for expansion in this space.
Since then, many luxury brands have partnered with game developers in creating new outfits for characters like Marc Jacobs and Valentino did for Animal Crossing or Moschino for The Sims. In this industry, it is, however, considered a minimum effort. Other fashion houses go as far as creating their own games. Balenciaga did just that with a walking simulator and used it, to present its Fall 2021 collection.
In my opinion, the best at adapting to this market is Louis Vuitton. In 2019, the luxury fashion house partnered with the video game developer, Riot Games for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, becoming the first-ever fashion house to do so. This collaboration was a great strategic move, as the geographic and demographic focus of Louis Vuitton and League of Legends is very similar. In both cases, the brands target millennials with above-average income, and their biggest markets are in Asia. What is also note-worthy, in 2016, LV made the first-ever campain using characters from a game, Final Fantasy!
I think fashion goes great with games and vice versa, because they are more similar than most people care to aknowledge. Needless to say, I am excited to see what great things this pair can offer to the world of culture.