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Digital Skins, Virtual Worlds and Partnerships with the Gaming Industry

The luxury market and the world of gaming are rapidly converging. Brands attempt to reach younger generations and appeal to their purchasing and engagement power as the industry eases into the transition to valued digital items through the games’ consumer base.  


Many brands released their own branded gaming experience, similar to Louis Vuitton’s release of Louis the Game as an app in celebration of the brand’s 200th anniversary in attempt to build awareness of the brand identity and history. However, brand collaborations with video game studios on digital or physical items is less common. These partnerships ranged from Balenciaga’s partnership with Fortnite to release a new collection and dress characters to Louis Vuitton’s 2019 League of Legends capsule collection and Lacoste and Minecraft’s collaboration. Of the brands that released their own branded gaming experience, some games will continue to exist on websites, apps or other platforms while others were time-limited and connected to a campaign or an event. The choice of route depends on the goal of the brand. 


Ralph Lauren, an American fashion brand, created The Winter Escape World in collaboration with Roblox last December. The game helped increase third-quarter revenue by 27 percent, which demonstrates the amount of purchasing power into which the gaming world can tap.

A high-profile Fortnite player staged a Fortnite fashion show in the game to grant players the opportunity to show off their digital skins in the spring of 2020. The YouTube video of the show has over 11 million views, which emphasizes the extent of the interest in fashion in the gaming world.

Italian luxury brand Marni’s Spring/Summer 2022 show in Milan acted as an in-person teaser for a digitized version of the new collection. The new virtual Marni world, WearWeAre, launched 14 April. Customers can view pieces from the SS22 collection worn by the show's models' digital avatars. The brand used 3D scanning techniques to create the avatars. Guests can also view a 3D lookbook and add pieces to their wishlist on the e-commerce site. However, they are not able to virtually try on pieces or seamless purchase them in the virtual world. The collaboration with Future Corp focused on strengthening engagement and connection using a new medium. The experience shows how brands can intertwine virtual and reality and stay true to a brand identity rooted in reality and craft.

The distinct methods exemplify the birth, complexity and future opportunity of digital designs. However, these approaches and partnerships are experiments with high costs and uncertain outcomes. Virtual worlds and related emerging technology remain unfamiliar to most of the fashion industry.

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