Why high-fashion labels like Louis Vuitton are advertising their brands inside video games, and why it's such a smart idea.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on industries like fashion and retail, the e-sports and gaming market has thrived. According to research from Data.ai (previously App Annie) and International Data Corporation, gaming will hit $222 billion in 2022. By 2027, the market is predicted to be worth $339.95 billion.

In part, this is due to the rise of a younger crop of gamers, many of whom have a lot of money to spend. A study by Kantar found that about 90% of Gen Z play video games, which is higher than the general population’s 59%. Moreover, Gen Z’s purchasing power is estimated at $44 billion.

Consequently, companies beyond the gaming industry, such as fashion brands, are eager to get their hands on a share of the action. Recent trends include collaborations between fashion brands and games, gaming-inspired fashion designs, labels releasing their own games, and a new genre of virtual styling games (featuring ecommerce) specifically geared towards fashion consumers.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest fashion brands who’ve advertised in video games.

Louis Vuitton and League of Legends

Before the phenomenon of fashion brands teaming up with gaming companies became widespread, Louis Vuitton had already established a collaboration with one of the most popular esports games in the world, League of Legends, before the pandemic. Although the game is free to play, it is monetized through the customization of characters. Players can buy things like cosmetic effects, accessories, and custom skins, which opens a wealth of opportunities for luxury fashion brands like Louis Vuitton.

An official League of Legends capsule collection, developed by Nicolas Ghesquière in collaboration with Riot Games, was also a part of the partnership. The ultra-modern line of jackets, printed tees, hoodies, jogging pants, sneakers, boots, and other items had distinct and innovative League of Legends references. The collaboration gets even more exposure with notable in-game skins for select heroes, Senna and Qiyana. The high fashion brand also helped design the 2019 League of Legends World Championship trophy case to house the “Summoner’s Cup.”

Moschino and The Sims

Similarly, Moschino collaborated with The Sims in 2019 to produce a capsule collection for the game and an identical collection that could be purchased in real life. Jeremy Scott, Moschino’s creative director, was highly influenced by the iconic personas of The Sims, demonstrating how the world of fashion frequently draws inspiration from games and vice versa.

The Sims’ trademark plumbob (the floating diamond) swimsuit is among the ready-to-wear pieces in the collection. There are also classic Moschino elements like the teddy bear with a noughties twist: the prints have a pixelated appearance, giving the impression of being taken straight out of a video game. It was then made available on The Sims, where virtual characters can wear pieces from the capsule collection and other notable Moschino designs.

Gucci and Roblox

In May 2021, Gucci held a virtual art exhibit called The Gucci Garden in collaboration with Roblox. The purpose of the event was to raise brand awareness among younger audiences. It was intended to be a virtual equivalent to the Gucci Garden Archetypes, a physical installation hosted in Florence, Italy.

Much like its real-life equivalent, the Roblox Gucci Garden featured a number of uniquely designed rooms that defied the rules of physics and paid tribute to the marketing campaigns run by the brand. Once inside, visitors were given the opportunity to browse, test, and buy virtual Gucci merchandise for their avatars to wear before moving on to the themed areas. In the virtual space, their avatars would take on the characteristics of each location they visited.

The limited-time event was designed to grab attention quickly and complement Gucci’s 2020 debut of digital products on Roblox. Using a profit-sharing model, both the gaming platform and the brand benefited from each sale of virtual clothes.

Selfridges and Pokémon

In 2021, Selfridges collaborated with Yahoo RYOT Lab and designer Charli Cohen to develop Electric/City commemorating Pokémon’s 25th anniversary. Modeled after the world’s fashion capitals, Electric/City is a virtual metropolis where you can buy exclusive digital and physical merchandise.

This is a 3D experience where guests can create their own virtual personas and interact with the digital world.  After purchasing virtual garments, visitors can use a body-tracking AR lens to put on the items on their avatar. Selfridges also launched an in-store promotion where e-commerce shoppers could sign up for a digital wallet to participate in real-life Easter egg hunts and earn physical rewards or digital collectibles designed by Charli Cohen.

Balenciaga and Fortnite

Balenciaga, like many other designer fashion labels, entered the game space in 2021 and became the first to team up with Fortnite. A virtual boutique in the open-world game allowed players to buy digital clothing modeled after real-life Balenciaga designs. Although the majority of the products had to be bought, some things, such as the Triple S Sneakers, were unlockable.

During the week-long event, participants were able to socialize, try on clothing in changing rooms, and stock up on the brand’s merchandise. In addition, the Balenciaga website and a few Balenciaga stores have made a collection of items available to connect this digital marketing campaign with reality. The best part? Balenciaga garments in Fortnite may be unlocked by purchasing real-life clothing.

Burberry and Honor of Kings

Honor of Kings, a massively multiplayer online game created by TiMi Studios and Tencent Games, is among China’s most popular video games. To dress their virtual personas, players can purchase “skins,” or outfits, from the game’s store.

In 2021, Burberry collaborated with the gaming platform to create new skins for one of the main characters. Featuring Burberry’s iconic tartan and trench coat, the new skins were available exclusively in China. Creating customized skins for video game characters is nothing new, but this partnership fits right in with the current trend.

The Bottom Line

More and more fashion brands are eager to join lucrative gaming collaborations, which is natural given the growth of the gaming and e-sports industry. In this article, we’ve provided several successful examples of luxury fashion brands that have advertised in video games.

Gaming has the potential to offer a new universe of possibilities because of its large audience of spectators and participants. Meanwhile, gaming titans also take advantage of the cultural significance and sponsorship revenue that clothing companies can bring in. This offers a mutually beneficial relationship between the two worlds that can last for years to come.