Balenciaga’s collaboration with Fortnite raises eyebrows

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The partnership with the luxury brand is the latest since the association of the video game with Ferrari

When Fortnite, one of the most popular video games in the world, revealed its partnership with high-end fashion house Balenciaga last month, the collaboration has left a lot of people scratching their heads. Why would a fashion company with clothes priced in the thousands team up with a free video game enjoyed mostly by teens and young adults?

New skins and hoodies at $ 725

Last month, Balenciaga Fortnite skins, cosmetic items that change a player’s character or outfit without giving them a competitive edge, became available for 1,200 and 1,500 “V-Bucks,” the in-game currency. of Fortnite. Players can purchase 2,800 V-Bucks for $ 19.99 from Fortnite’s in-game store, bringing the price of these skins to around $ 10.

The skins have a varied aesthetic. “Ramirez unleashed”Pulls on a scale top that fades from silver to gold, complemented by baggy black jeans with large ripped jagged sections. “Knight game”Includes a helmet and gauntlets to give an otherwise tame techwear outfit a unique Fortnite feel. For gamers who have an aversion to avant-garde fashion, Balenciaga offers “Shady dog”, A secure sartorial skin whose hoodie and black technical pants make it the most minimalist ensemble in the collection.

Balenciaga’s Fortnite merchandise for the real world is much more expensive. The Fortnite hoodies were originally available for $ 725, but as of October 25, the Balenciaga online store had both out of stock. The hoodie has the words “Fortnite” and “Balenciaga” on the front and “Retail Row” on the back – a reference to an in-game location on the Fortnite Battle Royale map. The hoodie is also available in white and is a replica of the one worn by Balenciaga’s “Shaddy Doggo” skin in Fortnite.

The resale market for these hoodies has generated profits for some people.

The resale market for these hoodies has generated profits for some people. EBay search results show completed sales of Fortnite Balenciaga hoodies up to $ 1,100. Another Fortnite hoodie sold for $ 900.

A story of disruption

The Cristóbal Balenciaga house has always caused a sensation, and its collaboration with Fortnite is one of the many unconventional initiatives taken by the fashion house in recent years.

In the early 2000s, when no self-respecting “it girl” was seen without a designer bag, Balenciaga released its iconic “Classic City” bag. The City bag stands out from its contemporaries by moving away from the typical glamor of luxury fashion of the time and turning to street-style. Although its flexible shape and heavy material initially prevented it from being produced in series, rejected prototypes were seen adorning the arms of models and celebrities. It quickly established itself as an essential accessory of the time.

Now, with Creative Director Demna Gvasalia at the helm, the brand’s rebellious streak is underscored by unlikely collaborations, including a ready-to-wear line with the Sony PlayStation 5 and, more recently, a cameo in an episode of “The Simpsons” which premiered at this year’s Paris Fashion Week.

Avant-garde or downgrading of its image?

Balenciaga has multiplied collaborations since Gvasalia took office and began to work on his vision of the brand as “an unexplored mode of creative freedom and a platform for innovation”. However, for many longtime fans, the creative risks hurt Balenciaga’s image more than help him.

So what does Balenciaga hope to gain from its collaboration with Fortnite? In addition to attracting its growing Gen Z customer base, virtual in-game versions of real models are making high fashion more accessible.

However, most of Fortnite’s crossovers are about brands that thrive on mass production.

Haute couture fans are not thrilled with this choice, as luxury brands like Balenciaga have built their reputation on a spirit of exclusivity. According to reviews, collaborations like the one with Fortnite, admittedly subversive, serve to “lower” the image of Balenciaga.

The newly released “Sneaker bag”, a top-handle handbag inspired by athletic shoes and priced at $ 2,150, is another example of this “cheap”. While it is certainly indicative of Balenciaga’s characteristic boldness in its deviation from what is typically associated with luxury styles, many in the fashion industry have come to view it as a desperate attempt. to rekindle popularity among the younger generation.

Just another collaboration for Fortnite

The Balenciaga partnership is just a drop in the ocean for Fortnite, a game that has flourished through collaborations with Marvel, the National Football League and Ariana Grande.

Fortnite appears to continue to expand its directory of collaborators in the future.

Fortnite uses these partnerships to create content like new game modes, skins, and in-game music gigs. However, most of Fortnite’s crossovers are about brands that thrive on mass production. Balenciaga does not fit into this mold.

Ferrari is another luxury brand that in partnership with Fortnite. In July, the Ferrari 296 GTB was placed in the game and players could drive it for free for a limited time. Fortnite also released Ferrari skins that could be purchased from the Item Shop.

Data from Google Trends shows that searches for “Ferrari” saw a slight increase when the car was introduced in the game, only to return to normal levels in the following months. Likewise, Balenciaga showed a peak in Google researched during the week his skins were in the Fortnite Item Shop. Although the skins are out of the store, there is a possibility that they will eventually return to the game.

While the lasting effects of Balenciaga’s experience with Fortnite remain to be seen, Fortnite appears to continue to expand its repertoire of collaborators in the future.


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