With the battle for consumers’ attention becoming ever more competitive and the younger demographic seen as increasingly difficult to reach, the fashion industry is venturing down virtual avenues to connect with millennials through video games and esports.
Last year, Louis Vuitton generated great interest in both the fashion and gaming worlds when they designed and released virtual attire in collaboration with online battle game League of Legends.
The online multiplayer game, which attracts 8 million players daily, enables players to purchase Louis Vuitton outfits and accessories for in-game characters.
To further integrate itself, the fashion house even unveiled a bespoke trophy travel case emblazoned with Louis Vuitton’s signature monogram pattern at the 2019 League of Legends World Championship grand final – an event that attracted more than 100 million viewers.
It is no surprise that fashion has turned its attention to infiltrating the gaming space as the video games market is predicted to become a $300 billion industry by 2025, with the in-game asset market alone currently valued at $50 billion.
Given the popularity of different outfits and customisation options in games like League of Legends and Fortnite, fashion and esports are now seen as a natural fit.
Louis Vuitton, however, is not the first brand to recognise this opportunity. In 2019, Moschino teamed up with EA to produce a physical ready-to-wear collection inspired by The Sims and collaborated on digital renderings of the designs which were integrated into The Sims and worn by its characters.
Similarly, Swiss luxury watchmaker Tissot has expanded its existing partnership with the NBA by making virtual versions of its watches available for players to buy within the latest edition of NBA 2K20, with over 113,000 virtual Tissot watches sold so far.
Fashion forecasters view the digital space as a valuable and growing opportunity for brands to create meaningful connections with potential new consumers and boost brand awareness.
WGSN’s fashion director, Francesca Muston, earlier this month described to the Financial Times that video games “allow for more interactivity with the product than many forms of traditional advertising… Any brand or retailer with an eye on the future will absolutely be thinking about their relevance in the gaming space.”
Fashion brands interested in pursuing partnerships in gaming will need to scope out licensing and collaboration opportunities with game developers and rights holders in the esports space.
Esports is still a relatively nascent industry and teams and tournaments generally have limited experience partnering with global brands, especially major fashion houses.
As a result, brands will need to consider not only whether the collaborations are authentic, but also the inherent risks, including potential reputational risks. Especially when compared to conventional sponsorships in other industries.
While for some it’s a leap of faith into the unknown, the pay-off is increasingly found to be a meaningful and widespread engagement with a hard-to-reach demographic.