Video games and fashion intersect now more than ever. As noted by Vogue Business, the growing number of fashion collaborations has a great deal to do with brands wanting to focus their marketing directly on their target demographics. With video game-influenced youth aging into the workforce and a higher percentage of female gamers taking an interest in fashion, it makes sense that fashion companies would want to get a foot in the door of the video game industry.
Video games, like film and other media, can serve as an advertisement hotbed. These pixel perfect collaborations can involve basically anything from virtual concerts in "Fortnite" starring major celebrities, Xbox-branded refrigerators, and, of course, fashion. Vogue Business counted at least four Puma collaborations with video game and esports organizations. Levi’s, UNIQLO, and other brands have released their own gaming collections, too.
Luxury brands — expensive, designer brands associated with elite customers — only make up a handful of the participants in this growing trend. However, their sky-high prices often attract the attention of fans and collectors alike. These are just a few of the most notable luxury brand video game collabs over the past few years.
Seiko and "Pokemon" have collaborated on two pocket monster-themed sets. The first "Pokemon" collection starred Pikachu, Eevee, and Mewtwo, each with significantly different designs based on the individual Pokemon. Then, several months later, the Japanese luxury watch retailer announced another line of watches based on first-generation starter Pokemon — Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle — and their evolutions.
Each of the three watch designs feature the starter Pokemon with its second evolution below it on the watch face. Then, on the back of the watch hides the etching of the final evolution. As an example, the Charmander watch (a.k.a. the Lizardon model) showcases the flame-tailed lizard on the front with its pointy-headed evolution, Charmeleon, pictured beneath it. Charizard spreads its wings across the back of the watch face.
For the Pokemaniacs out there, Seiko explains the details behind the bezel, index, and subdial designs based on each Pokemon on its website. In the Charmander watch’s case, the team designed the dial based off of Charizard’s "Fire Vortex" move.
Balenciaga sells simple, text-heavy streetwear that matches the esports and athleisure aesthetic. So maybe it isn’t surprising that the Italian luxury brand collaborated with Sony for a PlayStation 5-themed collection. What’s amusing is that these t-shirts are even pricier than the newest consoles, which might seem absurdly expensive to non-luxury brand consumers.
The PlayStation Boxy T-Shirt comes in black and red, and costs $675 per shirt. It features the PlayStation 5 logo with "Nov 2020" (the console’s release month and year) spelled beneath in the signature PlayStation typeface on the front. This font reappears on the back of the shirt, along with the PlayStation logo and "Balenciaga" beside it. Other notable designs include the controller buttons — triangle, circle, x, and square — printed on the sleeves and back.
The PlayStation line originally launched with only the two t-shirts and a single hoodie, and later added a baseball cap and socks to the lineup. Prices range from $125 for the socks to $875 for the hoodie. To be fair, these don’t cost too much more than typical Balenciaga designs.
League of Legends/Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton already earned a name in the video game industry with a cameo from "Final Fantasy 13" protagonist Lightning in one of the company’s advertisements. However, the fashion house took it one step further with multiple "League of Legends" collaborations. Louis Vuitton and Riot Games have collaborated on real-life fashion lines, as well as the designs for the "League of Legends" hip hop group, True Damage.
Louis Vuitton officially stepped into esports with its "League of Legends" collection, LVxLOL. The first drop’s least expensive item was a bandeau for $170, but the matching vest and leggings totaled up to thousands of dollars for the full fit. A stylish "League"-themed biker jacket priced at around $5,650! As pointed out by a fan on Reddit who did the math, that jacket might actually cost more than all the skins and characters in the game combined.
Some of the items are still listed on the website as of August 2021, but the stock gets lower all the time. The Beaubeorg Platform Derby is running dangerously low on stock and the Star Trail Ankle Boot already sold out. Even older items listed on secondhand sites like eBay are scarce, and they still tend to cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
100 Thieves flaunted its newest fashion collab with a trailer starring the group’s hottest superstars. The Los Angeles-based esports org revealed its partnership with Gucci in the teaser video on Twitter with a link to the fashion brand’s website. CEO Nadeshot and co-owners Valkyrae and CouRage were just a few members who showed off the collab’s signature 100 Thieves x Gucci Off The Grid backpack in the video and posed for promotional photos on the site.
The 100 Thieves backpack is a red variant of Gucci’s regular Off The Grid backpack. It sports the org’s iconic vibrant crimson color with the 100 Thieves logo embroidered on the flap. For reference, the original Gucci backpack features a sleek black body and with the Gucci emblem on top instead. This fiery-colored item costs a whopping $2,500, and only 200 lucky customers will be able to claim one.
Twitter users joked that the clothes would cost somewhere around $200 when the teaser originally circulated on social media. It’s unclear if 100 Thieves and Gucci will be releasing anything else besides the backpack, but considering the price tag on the bag, $200 might actually be lowballing it.
Super Mario/Tag Heuer
Tag Heuer, a Swiss luxury watchmaker, first announced its "Super Mario" collaboration in early July 2021 with a Mario-themed watch. Some might have figured that a completely mechanical Mario-themed timepiece was in the works, but the animations on the watch’s face were mostly the work of the technology in Tag’s Connected smartwatches.
According to the Video Game Chronicle, the watches cost $2,150 each. Only 2,000 were created for the limited-edition drop. The low supply and associated hype drained the stock in just a few minutes. Tag Heuer hinted that there could be a chance of a restock in the future, though. Hypebeast noted that the company mentioned the "Super Mario" collab as being merely "the beginning of a long-term collaboration between the two brands."
The TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario watch gamifies the wearer’s life with Mario-themed wakeup animations, fitness rewards, and other references from the popular Nintendo franchise. Some example animations include Mario twirling around a flag pole, popping out of a pipe, and dashing around with rainbow sparkles flowing behind him.
Acronym, a Berlin-based luxury brand, collaborated with Kojima Productions to bring "Death Stranding" protagonist Sam Porter Bridges’ jacket to life. The jacket, a variant of Acronym’s J1A-GT model, sports water-repellent features and pockets for any real-life Porter’s needs. Acronym developed the jacket alongside Kojima Productions and artist Yoji Shinkawa, who worked on "Death Stranding" and the "Metal Gear Solid" franchise with director Hideo Kojima. Kojima even posted a picture of himself on Twitter wearing the jacket, showing his enthusiasm for the collab.
There’s a reason why Highsnobiety called "Death Stranding" the "first video game to get techwear right." Techwear is practical clothing that’s supposed to be stylish and functional. As Highsnobiety puts it, "The best brands look great, but with techwear, practicality comes first." The "Death Stranding" jacket encapsulates this focus on functionality, even including some of the removable accessories featured in the game.
Animal Crossing/Marc Jacob and Valentino
Unlike other collabs here, "Animal Crossing" designer tees didn’t make it to real life — but they did appear online. Marc Jacob and Valentino partnered with the "Animal Crossing" Fashion Archive to bring their collections to the island getaway sim as downloadable patterns. In its announcement tweet, Valentino gave a shout-out to photographer Kara Chung from the "Animal Crossing" Fashion Archive for her help in digitizing 20 men’s and women’s outfits for "Animal Crossing."
Thankfully, unlike many other luxury brand tie-ins, these designs are free (not including the Nintendo Online subscription needed to use online features). "Animal Crossing" allows players to design their own prints pixel by pixel and share them online. Then, as showcased by Valentino on Twitter, others can download the custom designs using share codes. Alternatively, players can download the outfits through the Custom Designs Kiosk in the Abel Sisters store with a QR code.
Esports brand Fnatic collaborated with Gucci for a limited-edition version of The Dive — just one model in the latter’s successful smartwatch collection. The Dive’s design resembles the silhouette of a diver’s watch, thus the name. It sports a 40mm stainless steel case and black rubber strap, accented with Super-LumiNova markings (branded luminescent materials used for watches) on the watch’s hands and indices.
With its Black and red-orange color scheme and its little stars and bees, the watch’s design elements all point back to the London-based esports org’s signature style and branding. Fnatic’s blog post about the collab also pointed out a few intentional references to the gaming community inherent in the collaboration: "Divers" is a "League of Legends" class and the intertwined G’s in Gucci’s logo stand in as an acronym for the common saying "good game."
According to Input, Gucci only created 100 of these timepieces and they have all sold out. Seems like the $1,620 price tag wasn’t enough to scare off Fnatic fanatics.