Have you ever heard about phygital marketing? The chances are that you probably haven’t. As you might have already guessed, the name of this latest marketing trend is a combination of words physical and digital. While the name might sound new, you can think of it as a “remake“ of the good old experiential marketing that has already been around for quite some time. More specifically, since 1893! However, it was just recently when marketers gave this long-lived marketing practice a very modern twist …
Combining physical shopping experiences with digital experiences is not a new concept. However, a plethora of new exciting collaborations of high-end luxury fashion brands and video games have been recently emerging. Fueled by the ongoing pandemic, fashion retailers all over the world have been shifting their marketing efforts into the digital environment.
Given the growing spending power of the new generation of Gen Z and millennial consumers, the efforts of luxury fashion houses to appeal to and reach their customers through video games comes as no surprise. With video game enthusiasts increasingly expressing their interest in fashion along with the growing number of female gamers, the fashion industry has spotted THE opportunity. As a result, we can see many fashion houses experimenting with this new way of retail marketing and exploring many different possibilities of what fashion and gaming collaborations can look like.
One of the high-fashion house pioneers that earned a name within the video game industry is Louis Vuitton through its collaboration with League of Legends, an online video game developed by Riot Games with more than 115 million monthly players. In early 2020, the fashion house released its LVxLOL limited capsule collection of 40 pieces designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand’s creative director. However, owning an LVxLOL piece does not come cheap. Prices range from $170 to $5,600 for an exclusive League of Legends leather jacket. However, this was not the only collaboration between the luxury fashion house and the global eSport giant. The two also collaborated in the past on a set of prestige skins, which are basically add-ons for customization of the game avatar´s looks, also designed by Nicolas Ghesquière. These were released for an in-game purchase in 2019. Purchasing such an exclusive outfit for your League of Legends character will cost you around $10.
Fortnite x Balenciaga
One of the most recent fashion x video game collaborations we have seen is between Spanish luxury fashion house Balenciaga and Epic Games online video game Fortnite. The two took inspiration from LVxLOL and on the 20th of September 2021, a digital fashion collection available for in-game purchase as well as a limited edition of physical pieces was released. Balenciaga and Epic Games took it even further with their most recent collaboration and enabled the players to be featured in the in-game lookbook campaign and show off their brand new Balenciaga looks to the whole Fortnite community.
‘Pixel’ Perfect Combination
When you think about it, fashion and gaming is the perfect combination. Players often spend hours pimping up their in-game avatars and it is not just the time they are spending. DMarket, a global gamer marketplace for trading NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and virtual in-game items including skins, estimates this market to be worth around $40 billion a year. Given the money and time spent on look customization of the game characters, it is only natural for the player to want to wear the same outfits.
With interest in fashion declining and the popularity of gaming booming since the beginning of the pandemic, it is no surprise that high-end luxury fashion brands are doing their best to get a foot in the door of this market.
“We are undoubtedly entering into an entirely new era of experiential retail”
Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency, London College of Fashion
Undoubtedly, video games are becoming the new fashion runways. Whether it is an in-game purchase of digital items for the game characters or a purchase of the actual garment for the player, the combination of video games and fashion is particularly relevant since it offers players the chance to fully express themselves in the digital environment. After all, self-expression and showing off your identity are what fashion is ultimately about.
Even though experiential marketing has been around for a while, the success of the fashion and gaming collaborations is a good signal and undoubtedly, there are a lot more luxury and entertainment partnerships to come.
Edited by: Pritha Ray
Cover: Alex Haney