Among them and fashion may seem like strange bedfellows. Still, since the first video game characters could change their outfits, people have been curious about what our avatars wear, whether they are skydiving into combat in Fortnite or going on a date in The Sims.
Luxury brands have also recently been eager to enter the market. Over the past three years, brands like Balenciaga, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, and Valentino have all experimented, hosting runway shows in the Animal Crossing village-building game, working together on clothing and outfits, also known as “skins,” for games like League of Legends and Fortnite, or developing shoppable gaming environments in Roblox.
Gamers established the framework for the present boom in a virtual fashion, even though interest in digital clothing has increased outside of video games in recent years. Examples include Dolce & Gabbana’s record-breaking $6 million collection and a pair of Nike and RTFKT sneakers selling for $133,000
Years before game developers and clothing companies started to monetize skins for broader audiences, and the gaming community contributed to the establishment of a thriving environment for independent designers creating custom clothing for video games like The Sims as well as a successful system for selling digital goods from EverQuest and World of Warcraft on eBay.
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In a video call, Cassandra Napoli, a senior strategist at trend-forecasting firm WGSN, stated, “The direct-to-avatar economy isn’t necessarily new.” “What’s new now, in my opinion, is that people are more aware that this is an opportunity, whereas, in the past, it was very much a niche experience for individuals who are already gamers,” the author said.
She claimed that “the scope of gaming, in general, has grown more mainstream” at this time. The $120 billion spent on digital video games in 2019 was made up, according to a report by WGSN in 2020, 80% by the sales of skins. This was before the sector experienced a pandemic boom as more people spent more time at home worldwide.
The creative pool for virtual fashion blossomed when The Sims came out in 2000, delivering a world similar to ours instead of the fantasy games that dominated the industry. Like many other video games, the Sims can be altered or “modded” by importing cosmetic modifications from other applications, such as clothing or haircuts.
Jenni Svoboda, a Texas-based designer who goes by the online alias Lovespun, has been making custom outfits for video games like The Sims, Second Life, and Roblox since the mid-aughts. “That’s where digital fashion manifested — the idea of not wanting to always look like either an NPC (non-player character) or another player,” she said.
Although The Sims has collaborated with brands like H&M, Diesel, Moschino, and Gucci throughout the years, style is now possible thanks to player-made unauthorized designs. According to Svoboda, players can create “unique hair, clothes, makeup — basically whatever you could conceive of.” There is a mod for everything, whether you desire Kylie Jenner’s matte lip colours, “Mean Girls” matchy-matchy pink clothes, or every Jules look from “Euphoria.”
But suppose customized designs are designed to improve The Sims’ gameplay. In that case, they end up serving as the inspiration for early metaverses like Second Life, where everyone in the virtual world builds their own homes, and Roblox, where users may play and make games.
With the inauguration of their virtual boutiques in 2006, big fashion labels like American Apparel, Armani, and Adidas staked their claims in Second Life, allegedly valued at $64 million. In place of a live show during New York Fashion Week, Jonathan Simkhai debuted his Fall-Winter 2022 collection earlier this year in Second Life.
Top developers have reportedly made millions on Roblox and had the chance to create game settings for their collaborations with fashion houses. Svoboda has collaborated with companies like Karlie Kloss, Forever 21, and Tommy Hilfiger. She thinks Roblox has “certainly been a doorway and an opportunity for many brands to come in and cooperate.”
Fashion designers in the future “won’t simply be sewing, they’ll be coding,” according to Karlie Kloss.
desirable virtual goods
Since the first significant wave of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) was released in the late 1990s, Edward Castronova, a professor of media at Indiana University Bloomington and an authority on the virtual economies of video games, has tracked the rise of virtual products. He has never been astonished by how far some people will go to amass digital attire.
According to Castronova in his 2006 book “Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games,” one user got monomaniacal about collecting shirts after the fantasy MMORPG Ultima Online, which launched in 1997, provided users limitless storage for their stuff.
“he somehow gathered and preserved over 10,000 of them for unknown reasons,” Castronova stated. Rare armour and skins rose in popularity and developed their off-game economy, worth tens of millions of dollars on websites like eBay in the mid-2000s, as Castronova detailed.
However, it wasn’t until the 2010s that game developers started making money from these sought things. Skins are now a multibillion-dollar source of revenue for the gaming industry, and fashion labels have taken notice.
Numerous multiplayer games have benefited from this fascination, like the hugely successful Fortnite, whose style clout is essential to its gameplay. The concept of imaginative self-expression lies at the heart of the entire player experience, according to Emily Levy, partnerships director at Epic Games, the game’s publisher.
Fortnite’s 100-person competitive combat gaming may have propelled it to worldwide prominence in 2018; it also sponsors social gatherings like concerts (at which Ariana Grande has appeared) and fashion contests. Levy claimed that some groups had gained “cult-like followings.”
A sustained partnership
The fashion director of Epic Games, Sallyann Houghton, predicts that the two sectors will continue to merge. She points out, in particular, that technology has finally advanced to the point where luxury labels can simulate their actual clothing. Additionally, Epic invented the real-time 3D modelling programme Unreal Engine 5, which is used by numerous video games and metaverse platforms. The company has also produced runway shows for designers, including Gary James McQueen (Alexander McQueen’s nephew).
She remarked, “Graphics technology has advanced so far. We can now make a digital duplicate of anything, including a piece of apparel, a structure, or a landscape, to assist convey the atmosphere of a collection. As an example of a creative twist that physical designers would struggle to pull off, characters’ attire for a collaboration with Moncler transitioned from light to dark based on their altitude. This was done as a homage to the Italian company’s alpine background.
It will take some time to determine whether significant fashion firms will commit to the gaming business in the long run, as several previous agreements have also been one-offs. One company making substantial investments in the market is Gucci, which has partnerships with Tennis Clash, Roblox, Pokémon Go, and Roblox, as well as its own Gucci Arcade, which was inspired by classic video games. Robert Dreyfus, who is in charge of its corporate and brand strategy, claims that this is due to its potential on a global scale.
“Generational, gendered, and ethnic boundaries are all crossed by (gaming). It truly is a worldwide community in every way, “He informed in an email. We concluded that Gucci had a chance to be heard in that community. Dreyfus noted that their group has carried out “a variety of various research projects were done to gain a “more profound understanding of the gaming industry. “
Castronova thinks that branded goods in video games will always be appealing, regardless of whether we’re experiencing a true digital fashion renaissance as we enter the era of the so-called metaverse or just a “hype wave.”
Whether they are in a natural environment or a virtual one, “people worry about how they seem,” he claimed. Versace hat use during a game “is wonderful marketing,” he continued. “The eyes of people between 18 and 34 are more difficult to capture since interactive experiences occupy them. Therefore, I believe that will persist and get worse.”