Fullscreen
Highsnobiety Commentary September, 26 2013
By

What the Fashion Industry Could Learn from Rockstar Games

To say that Grand Theft Auto V is a success is a complete understatement. When you reach the proverbial pinnacle of achievement – both financially and critically – that level of excellence has little to do with luck and everything to do with certain tenets that make for a dynamite product. With the latest installment of the storied video game franchise taking in over $1 billion in its first week, that monetary achievement dominates the yearly profits of every movie released this year with the exception of Iron Man 3 – which just so happens to be the fifth highest-grossing movie of all-time. Call it foresight. Call it a shift in people’s tastes. Call it dumb luck…actually….don’t. If there is one thing that Grand Theft Auto V has taught us, it’s that the creation of a truly time-tested product needs a few key elements.

On a daily basis we’re inundated with several hundred emails from brands ranging from established entities to up-and-coming factions pushing select products as if the “starter” missions for the aforementioned game. For those looking to shine as brightly as wanted stars in the realm of fashion, they’d be wise to follow the path of Rockstar Games.

Have Patience

The release of the latest installment of GTA comes more than five years since its predecessor broke industry records with 3.6 million units of sales on its first day of release and grossing more than $500 million in revenue in the first week, ultimately selling an estimated 6 million units worldwide. It could have been easy for Rockstar to note their success and continually pump out sequel after sequel, but instead chose to keep quality elevated with the soothsaying abilities to know that they’d be able to cash in at a better and more beneficial opportunity if they brought something to be proud of to the marketplace.

Brands would be wise to note this idea of “restraint.” Just because something has proven to work in the past, doesn’t mean it needs to immediately be replicated. More of the same isn’t always what the doctor orders. With that being said, a brand doesn’t need to always throw the baby out with the bathwater as certain concepts will ultimately prove to be the bread and butter and just need to be updated and refined.

Have a Grand Scope

GTA V isn’t a big game, it’s freaking huge – bigger than GTA IV, San Andreas and Red Dead Redemption combined. To say that Rockstar had a “grand scope” when originally creating GTA V is an understatement. Instead of thinking outside of the box, Rockstar decided to make the box itself bigger and better, and in doing so they were able to produce the best Grand Theft Auto possible.

In the fashion industry, the parallel can be seen when you take a closer look at the many subcultures that influence current trends. The modern mindset of today’s fashion designers enable them to draw inspiration from anywhere and make it work. To say Givenchy isn’t currently influenced by streetwear is simply not true, and with the hype surrounding Hood By Air it’s no surprise New York Fashion Week attendees have been paying attention to brands that at one time wouldn’t have been considered high fashion. Although it’s frowned upon by some, I think the mixing of the cultures is fantastic – it allows for like-minded individuals to interact when previously they may have never even met. It’s with collaborations like these that great products are birthed from.

Don’t Worry About Offending People

According to the Guinness World Records, Grand Theft Auto is the most controversial video game series in history having had over 4,000 articles published about it, which include accusations of glamorizing violence, corrupting gamers, and even connections to real life crimes. The original game was even banned outright in Brazil due to its “extreme violence.” Of course, the main outcome of all this was increased popularity and demand.

In our little corner of the fashion world, obscenity and irreverence have long been a part of the cultural fabric. However, over the past year or so we’ve curse-laden gear hit critical mass. Nothing exemplifies this more than the (at one point) near ubiquitous “Comme des Fuckdown” beanie, first popularized by A$AP Rocky, and then disseminated through his legions of fans – even being seen on the heads of teenage girls.

Going back to the late ’80s, Rick Klotz first popularized his seminal label Freshjive in-part through ads that included imagery of hookers smoking crack. Was this offensive? Of course, and that irreverence helped build the appeal to those who were sick of the watered-down mainstream and appreciated the boundary-pushing rebelliousness, much in the way GTA‘s “extreme violence” was a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by Zelda and Super Mario.

So yes, certain corners of the fashion industry are already doing a decent job at being offensive, but the takeaway here is if you want to do something, don’t hold back. Push the boundaries and don’t be worried to offend. The common adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” holds true more often than not.

Take Risks

For an industry as creative as it is, the fashion world follows a ton of unwritten (as well as many written) rules. One movement that has caused much backlash is the recent, massive influx of parody designer gear, such as the offerings from LPD and Brian Lichtenberg. However, where in the past these pieces would be relegated to tiny boutiques or even black-market trade, today these garments are being sold in top-tier retailers, sometimes right next to the original luxury items they look to parody. And as a result are seen on some of today’s top celebs and models.

Much like the creators of Grand Theft Auto, these fashion designers took big risks, doing things that were once considered unthinkable. But just like we saw with GTA, that unorthodox behavior had paid off. So go ahead, be bold and take risks. Whether be it simply being more patient than others, having a larger scope than is standard, or touching on topics taboo to many, doing something that pushes the envelope is the best path to finding a unique place in this world.

Selectism