2022: The year that streetwear became screenwear

2022: The year that streetwear became screenwear

Fashion and gaming have converged at a scale that few predicted, inspired by a shared vision to create larger-than-life aspirational experiences.

Forward thinking brands are beginning to see the opportunity to tap into a growing community, and are keen to unlock a piece of the $40bn digital fashion pie.

Zara, H&M, Nike, adidas, Polo Ralph Lauren, Burberry and more saw the opportunity to jump into Zepeto, Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite and Animal Crossing offering new world brand experiences for gamers with digital fashion at its core.

These new worlds are being built to drive the expression economy. 

Epic Games say, “the entire experience of Fortnite is centred around self expression”. Last week, Roblox revealed “more than ¾ of gamers change their avatar every week”. As a result, gamers are actually embracing brands in new worlds as they make the experience feel real.

Last year, a virtual Gucci bag on Roblox, original sale price $6USD, ended up reselling for more than $4,000USD

So, what happened in 2022? 

What are gamers looking for when they’re spending in-game?

People are looking to discover and experiment with new types of fashion to wear digitally as they explore their identity.

Earlier this year, adidas Originals enabled discovery on a whole new level, through an AI driven partnership with Ready Player Me for its Ozworld product launch. The beauty of this execution was the interoperability—through AI the platform generated digital avatars that could be unleashed into over 1500 different apps and games.

A limited edition drop isn’t just a real-world thing.

Exclusivity matters in gaming too.

Palace Skateboards launched a title level partnership with Need For Speed Unbound. The limited edition release unlocked exclusive Palace cars, sounds and clothes within the game. The only thing notably absent was the lack of an IRL Capsule Collection for exploration in the real world, maybe it’s coming soon?

And, a personal favourite of the past year was Burger King’s Call of Duty MW2 activation.

By purchasing a meal in-store you unlocked a limited edition skin, an unreal tash and double XP for one hour. A real play for the CoD community that also lit up the reseller market.

These 3 examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s becoming an audience expectation to see brands unleash a new world experience, accompanied with digital fashion and an IRL capsule collection.

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, suggests that “10-15% of wardrobes could end up becoming virtual”. With nearly 3 billion gamers expected to be playing in 2023, is it time for brands to reconsider if ‘direct to consumer’ needs to be reframed as ‘direct to avatar’? 

We certainly think so.

As we begin to enter an audience recession on some social media platforms, it's time to recognise that audiences are migrating to new worlds. 

These worlds are literally being built for self-expression and as a result, digital fashion is becoming a huge opportunity for brands to take their creativity to new levels.

This report was compiled by Gareth Leeding, founder of creative futures agency Utopia Collective. If you’d like to read the full ‘From Streetwear to Screenwear’ report, you can do so here.

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