Luxury brand Balenciaga goes virtual: the popular computer game Fortnite will have a Balenciaga shop where players can buy virtual outfits. The clothes will actually be for sale in the physical shops as well.
Balenciaga for 8 dollars
Balenciaga is the first luxury brand in the world to enter into a partnership with Epic Games, the creator of the famous computer game Fortnite - accounting for about 400 million users worldwide and over 5 billion dollars in sales. Whereas the game was originally mainly an online shooting game in which players competed against each other, today culture and fashion are an essential part of the experience. For example, the popular American rapper Travis Scott gave a virtual concert there during the lockdown, which attracted 45 million viewers.
In the game, users can also change outfits (skins) and accessories, and that is where Balenciaga comes in. The trendy luxury brand has designed four virtual outfits, various accessories and even its own weapons for the game. Players can buy them - for the democratic price of 8 dollars - in the game's own Balenciaga world, including a virtual shop.
Welcome to the metaverse
For Fortnite, it may be the first collaboration, but luxury brands and the virtual world have been finding each other for some time. Both Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton previously had their own video game to show their new collections to digital-minded youngsters, Gucci designed skins for Pokémon Go and has a real Gucci Garden on gaming platform Roblox, where a virtual handbag sold for over 4,000 dollars.
The strong growth of such virtual worlds is part of what is being called the metaverse: a world in which digital living worlds become as real as physical reality and flow seamlessly into it. Virtual reality and AR (augmented reality) are increasingly making this possible. For example, if someone gives himself dog ears or an angel face on TikTok or Snapchat, that too is augmented reality.
Also in real life
With Fortnite, Balenciaga goes one step further and also gives the action a physical component. Limited-edition Balenciaga x Fortnite hats, T-shirts and hoodies will be available in the brand's shops and webshop. In addition, 3D billboards will appear on the streets of major cities such as New York and Tokyo to announce the collaboration.
Epic Games has already hinted that there may be more collaborations in the future. The gaming platform points out that brands can also "tap into the creativity of the Fortnite community to help them create garments or virtual actions," communications director Alan Cooper told Vogue Business. "Brands can commission our players to design for them."
More recently, supermarket chain Carrefour launched its own world on Fortnite to raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating through play. Want to know more about the metaverse and the opportunities for brands and retailers? In 2022, you’ll be able to read all about it in the book The Future of Shopping: Re-set Re-made Re-tail, to be published by Lannoo Campus.