Despite suggestions to the contrary, fashion interest in the Metaverse is still alive and well. The industry’s new obsession: video game. On Monday, Ralph Lauren announced that he was teaming up with Fortnite to co-host a streaming tournament and create a digital and physical capsule collection, filled with a historic redesign of the 55-year-old polo pony logo. The timeless American label and the popular role-playing game Game (RPG) celebrated the launch earlier this week in New York with a VIP party streamed live on Twitch.
“Ralph Lauren has always crafted dreams and created new worlds, and today our collection with Fortnite will deliver a one-of-a-kind experience to a new community of next-generation gamers and consumers,” said David Lauren, responsible for brand strategy and innovation. officer at Ralph Lauren, says Tech Crunch.
Hot on the heels of Ralph Lauren x Fortnite, Burberry unveiled a collaboration with the global manufacturer Game Minecraft which includes an in-Game and IRL capsule collection, and free downloadable content (DLC) called Burberry: the freedom to go beyond which places players in an alternate reality in London “taken over by a malevolent entity called the Nexus”. The tip of the Game is to “restore the spirit of nature” by traveling through four realms – air, water, fire and earth – to revive their “Keeper of Nature” and free the trapped animals. Along the way, players encounter the British fashion house’s iconography via mazes of monograms and a mounted knight who nods to Burberry’s equestrian heritage. In keeping with Minecraft’s lush virtual natural landscapes, the partnership also includes a philanthropic link with Conservation International.
Fashion’s interest in video game world is still quite new. Its defining moment, at the start of the pandemic, was marked by two words: Animal Crossing. The premise was simple: players were tasked with managing a village of adorable animal avatars where nothing bad happened. America couldn’t get enough of the low-stakes escape fantasy and it didn’t take long for Marc Jacobs, Sandy Liang and Valentino to launch pop-ups and product drops into the universe.
Then, in December 2020, Balenciaga avoided the catwalks and launched its Fall/Winter collection in Afterworld: the era of tomorrow, allowing players to equip their avatars with seasonal merchandise as they embark on adventures in the dystopian metaverse. Getting into 3D web experiences was a smart strategic decision. Balenciaga reached a wider audience beyond the usual crowd of editors, celebrities and influencers. The collaboration earned the house and its art director Demna praise for experimenting with the metaverse early on.
The lure of haute couture in the video game sphere may seem superfluous at first glance but in reality, it presents a golden marketing opportunity. Gamers represent a captive audience, and tournaments, streams, quests, and branded merchandise connect brands with new customers. Additionally, many are predicting that the metaverse will mirror the real world, a theory that already seems to be turning out to be true: Gucci has released a digital version of its Dionysus bag as an in-Game accessory for Roblox and a savvy buyer turned around and returned it for $4,115, more than the price of the physical bag.
When the internet was still in its infancy, we certainly didn’t have “luxury European fashion houses teaming up with video Game nerds” on our bingo card.