Balenciaga will be showing its forthcoming Fall/Winter 2021 collection via a new video game, expected to launch on December 6. The news arrives to the glee of trendy gamers, and to the ire of traditionalist fashion pundits and buyers who would rather see runways return front and center of new collection reveals.
The exact details and look of the game are under wraps for now, but speaking to WWD, creative director for the house Demna Gvasalia confirmed that Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow will set a record for the "largest volumetric video project ever undertaken.” The name does sound like a tongue-in-cheek parody of a video game title, but sure. Watch the teaser below.
The article continues to describe the game's premise as “a hero avatar [advancing] throughout distinct zones, motivated by tasks and interactions. The narrative of Afterworld is anchored to mythological pasts and projected futures with timeless archetypes and speculative imagery.”
Although this is certainly the most fully-fledged video game x fashion crossover, it is not the first (remember Gucci x Tennis Clash, or the whole Animal Crossing moment) nor is it likely to be the last.
While the two demographics of people who spend money on five-toed Vibram knitted heels and avid gamers might appear to be separated, the slow but encroaching unification of media, content, products, and marketing across all major industries (cc: Lego x Levi's collab, Virgil Abloh x Mercedes Benz, and a Gucci film festival) is closing this gap.
The announcement of a Balenciaga video game may seem to be more about marketing than about seeing/feeling/touching new fashion items, but for Balenciaga, the decision to become more digitally immersive makes perfect sense. As this year’s hit and miss of phygital fashion week made pretty clear, brands are clamouring to find ways to get their collections in front of bigger audiences to stay at the top of the food chain. Particularly while it remains unclear just how long Covid restrictions will continue to interrupt usual proceedings.
Balenciaga already dominates the augmented reality space with a terrifying, uncanny campaign from digital artist Yilmaz Sen for the Spring ’19 campaign, as well as the casual inclusion of extreme beauty prosthetics in its runway shows. So while some may remain skeptical about a fashion house x video game crossover, if anyone can pull it off, it's Demna.