As esports audiences evolve and mature, luxury fashion brands normally not associated with the industry began take notice, entering the market through collaborations with game developers and team organizations.
While sportswear companies have been involved with esports in what would appear to be a natural integration between similar industries and markets, the truth is that esports audiences have grown to be more diverse and affluent over the past few years.
This newly emerging audience has attracted the attention of an industry thought to be far-off from gaming and esports: high fashion. Just like their more casual counterparts, luxury brands want to take advantage of this demographic and build partnerships and collaborations to share their offerings with esports enthusiasts.
Louis Vuitton and League of Legends
One of the first such companies to enter esports was Louis Vuitton. The Louis Vuitton x League of Legends capsule collection was released in December 2019, showcasing clothing that included references to the League of Legends universe. Nicolas Ghesquière, the capsule’s designer also created unique champion skins and digital items in-game, further blurring the line between physical and digital designs for esports fashion.
Louis Vuitton also designed a unique trophy travel case in 2019 and 2020 that would hold the Summoner’s Cup, awarded to the world champions. This has continued their tradition of designing the trunks that hold prestigious trophies belonging to traditional sports like the FIFA World Cup and the Rugby World Cup.
Armani Exchange and MKers
Being the more accessible and street chic brand of the Giorgio Armani family, it was no surprise that Armani Exchange were the ones to venture into esports. In May 2019, they announced that they would be the jersey sponsors for their fellow Italians, the esports squad MKers. Active in titles such as FIFA, NBA2K and Rainbow Six: Siege, MKers would act as the global ambassadors of Armani Exchange in the esports world.
MKers would live up to the reputation of fashion-conscious Italy, and offer jerseys today that have been designed by the Van Orton twins.
Gucci and esports
Collaborating with Fnatic in 2020, Gucci designed a watch that was inspired by their League of Legends team. The luxury brand had already invited the team to front row seats for their Milan Fashion Show and the watch they designed incorporated elements relating to esports like Gucci’s double G logo referencing the phrase “good game”. Offered as a limited edition exclusively on Gucci’s website, the 100 watches produced with a price tag of 1 600 USD were quickly sold out.
Gucci’s more recent foray into esports will involve a collaboration with 100 Thieves, the lifestyle and gaming brand based in Los Angeles, USA. Gucci will be the very first brand 100 Thieves have collaborated with, and the Gucci x 100 Thieves collection will be available exclusively to Gucci account holders on July 19th.
G2 Esports and Ralph Lauren
G2 Esports announced their global partnership with luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren in June. The two organizations will be collaborating on different campaigns and events, as well as producing joint content for digital platforms like Twitch and TikTok. The first such example will see Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, G2 League of Legends star, featured alongside some of the biggest global athletes on Ralph Lauren’s upcoming Wimbledon campaign.
Is it all worth it?
There is a reason all these brands are moving into unfamiliar territory: the growing, more diverse, and more affluent audience of esports means there are now opportunities to reach customers where there were none before.
New York-based esports organization Andbox offered an SBB collection bomber jacket named after their Overwatch star Saebyeolbe, and the 500 USD jackets sold out in minutes. Coupled with the Fnatic x Gucci watches selling out similarly fast, it shows that esports enthusiasts will spend money to procure luxury items that proclaim their allegiance, as long as they are offered such goods.
GWI’s 2021 report “Choose your character” supports this by stating that two out of five esports followers will support brands that sponsor their favorite teams. With further streams of revenue possible through offering digital goods that can be made scarce so as to be considered luxurious, it stands to reason that luxury fashion and lifestyle brands will continue to enter this market with ever-growing enthusiasm.