ICYMI last week, ACRONYM has released a Death Stranding version of its famous J1A-GT jacket. It is stupendously good. It is priced at nearly $2,000. It sold out straight away. If you're a techwear-head who happens to be a fan of Hideo Kojima, you might consider selling a vital organ on the dark web to afford one at resell. If you're a casual observer who has no idea what ACRONYM is, you might still be clutching your pearls at the fact that, in the current economic situation, such a thing exists.
Within hours of the Kotaku Twitter account sharing its story on the jacket, a ton of replies bemoaning the price point had appeared. "It looks similar to my jacket I bought from Target for like $40," wrote one disgruntled person, while others communicated their disgust via those terrible, unfunny GIFs that have bizarrely become a kind of social media comment section lingua franca. Elsewhere, several media outlets picked up on the story, with one bewildered journalist asking "Who the Heck Bought the $1,900 Death Stranding Jacket?" before literally soliciting buyers to send in photos of themselves wearing it. What the end game was there, I'm still not entirely sure.
"These are difficult times for everyone," has fast become a platitude, yet it's true. In a month where millions of Americans are filing for unemployment claims, it's unsurprising that some would recoil at seeing what is a piece of clothing worth more than the price of a car. Trust me, there are a lot of luxury brands out there making overpriced, thoughtless trash that are worthy of such scorn, but ACRONYM is not one of them. That we should suddenly disregard genuine good craft as overpriced frippery in light of global events feels a bit, well, sad. Would the Twitterati react the same way had they taken the time to research why the jacket is priced so exorbitantly? That it's, to quote John Mayer, artisan-made at almost-prototype level? To read up on a brand story and form a rounded opinion on it takes some time; to join the echo-chamber in posting a GIF of Ryan Reynolds from Harold and Kumar only seconds.
Even if you don't own any ACRONYM (like me), it's impossible not to admire Errolson Hugh's thinking. Fallouts like the above wouldn't happen if the brand employed a PR or marketing team, but then that would be antithetical to its entire operation. It's all about the design and product — period. It's costly because of the materials and the time it takes to make. It's the crème de la crème of techwear; the undoubted gold-standard. When judging true sustainable fashion, the "less is better" mantra is always a good rule of thumb. As Hugh has said before, ACRONYM is fundamentally about acquiring less stuff. There's logic in buying a truly world-class jacket at $1,900 that lasts for 15 to 20 years, rather than re-upping on a new one every time winter rolls around. And that's before you get to all the bells and whistles technology.
“When we make something, we're not trying to make it expensive to have some kind of clout or status factor,” Hugh told GQ last year. “It's a function of the materials that we use and how [the product's] made and the time it takes to design it. It costs what it costs.” Before continuing: "In most companies, no one cares about design; they just care about sales. ACRONYM was our response to that.” The Death Stranding JQ1 has no doubt been made in extremely limited quantities (I'm guessing 20 at most). It's the quintessential ACRONYM piece, and so this game merch version feels more like a collector's item rather than something meant for mass-roll out (although that thinking kind of applies to anything by ACRONYM).
Being wary and holding designers to account is something to be encouraged, but to typecast and shit on every new, expensive creation through the prism of the current socio-economic climate is unfair on those who are still genuinely trying to push the envelope and change the fashion consumer's mindset for the better. We should be embracing that mentality as the blueprint, rather than sneering. Coronavirus will hopefully teach the world to be more responsible — fingers crossed the same can be said of our judgments, too.