As E3, the video gaming expo, wraps up this week, we decided to take a look at a strong growing subculture of youth culture fashion coming from the world of video gaming, manga, and anime. As a new generation that’s grown up leading a digital lifestyle, and floating easily between liner to web to mobile to virtual, back to real again, it’s not that uncommon that some of the freshest trends, colors, and silhouettes in fashion to come from what some consider “fantasy fashion.” However if you’re young, experimental, and/or a designer influenced by such artistry in gaming characters and other narrative stories from the virtual world, such influence makes total sense.
One brand that tapped into this straight-away was H&M when a couple of years ago, they launched design contest with EA’s Second Life whereby fans of fashion could dress their avatars in their own created styles. Top styles where then voted on by H&M designers and then featured for real in the next season’s collections. Even RockBand 2 tapped into the virtual-to-real market opportunities of fashion via band merch. In this game, you can create your own band of course, but dress your avatars in personalized band merch T-shirts, which you can then have created (for a fee) in real life and correspondingly sell on your MySpace page. This is an interesting example of a niche fashion revenue model via a game.
Designs in fashion coming from video gaming, anime, and manga could clearly be seen at various events ranging from the J-Rock festival a couple of years ago, fans from the Rockstar Taste of Chaos tour, to streetwear trade shows such as S.L.A.T.E. and ASR with brands such as Mishka, Cardboard Robot, and Eno from China taking cues in colors, designs, and “stories” in design graphics from virtual worlds.
Video game fashion design has also become a growing business for the gaming industry, and again in movies as designers copy various designs into creating fashion for characters -the most well-known example being Aeon Flux. While many designers in fashion consider such influences as “costume” or “fantasy” fashion, this has crossed over into reality in a big way. Young people who have grown up online, reading manga, or playing video games are used to being interactive with their entertainment. They consider themselves part of the story and don’t necessarily want to sit on the sidelines of their entertainment simply because they’re used to being in the process of creating their storyline. This interactivity has crossed over with their preferences in fashion and accessories. They want to be participatory in the process of creation of their own personal styles, which is a strong trend in video-game influenced fashion trends.
Overall, such trends in fashion are having a great effect on youth culture, but also coming from the bottom-up and influencing fashion designers who now are beginning to understand just where some character fashion pieces can influence their own creations towards a more modern, even futuristic collection. This year at E3, it was interesting to see more fashion designers roaming the expo floors for this very reason. Video gaming’s influence has reached beyond the scope of simply being entertainment, but also influential in growing trends in youth culture fashion.