Style Wars: could gaming save the fashion industry?

It’s hard to imagine the worlds of gaming and fashion colliding, but designers such as BurberryLouis Vuitton and Gucci are hoping that gaming will win over a new generation of customers. Samantha Boal reports.  

When you initially think about the world of gaming, you may think about teenagers playing Call of Duty or Rainbow Six SiegeNow, in an age of sustainable fashion and economic decline, some of the world’s biggest fashion brands and top designers are turning to gaming in a bid to hook in younger smartphone-addicted customers.   

Last month, on 21st October 2019, Burberry released B Bounce – a game in which the player dresses up an avatar in this season’s new puffer jackets and attempts to reach the moon, while battling torrential weather conditions along the way. Winners of the game are able to win a real jacket from the new Burberry puffer collection as a first prize – which typically costs approximately £1,300 – whereas other winners are awarded with custom made GIFs, and virtual Burberry puffer jackets 

B Bounce by Burberry

A spokesperson from Burberry told us: “We have previously experimented with gaming in China, but B Bounce is Burberry’s first playful attempt at entertaining and connecting with our new and younger customers from all around the world. We are aware that our consumers are living in a progressively gamified environment, so we want to provide a source of entertainment for them. We are excited that they can join our Burberry community in this way, as well as explore our new puffer collection.” 

B Bounce can be played via computer or mobile online. The world of gaming is currently worth $152 billion, which is a 9.6% rise from last year so less traditional industries such as fashion are getting involved, hoping that it will gain more revenue for themselves and raise sales. In a world in which sustainable fashion is growing, along with the rise of second hand shopping, fashion brands are looking for new and exciting ideas to attract customers.   

Drest, a new app launching in 2020, involves dressing up an avatar in the perfect outfit for a range of different events. The game is being created by former editor of Harpers Bazaar, Lucy Yeomans and Hundreds of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada are partnering up with Drest, in the hopes that the game will raise their sales. However the primary goal of the game is to test how digital clothing performs.  

Drest will be released in 2020, via mobile app.

Mark Bennison, a senior lecturer in Programming and Games Development at the University of Sunderland tried playing B Bounce by Burberry. He said: “I found it quite frustrating. This approach I think is about gamification, the idea that if you give someone a score or value and a ranking system then people will naturally try and ascend the rankings to ‘be the best’. It’s perhaps a bit more complicated than that, and works best when you can see your friends scores and know you what you can do to beat them.  

“Social media sites like LinkedIn provide a percentage ‘score’ for how complete your profile is, so you see you’re 75% complete and you’re instructed to add a qualification or a profile image to increase this – this is like gamification. Companies want to increase their sales and games or gamification engages consumers and provides a vehicle to deliver advertisements. Good games are appealing because they’re engaging and usually fun, perhaps grabbing our inquisitive nature or provoking our competitive side.” 

Bennison also spoke to us about how gaming is a great marketing technique: “From a commercial point of view, I think games are a fantastic place to advertise in. Games have a large audience,though it depends whether the game demographic matches who you’re selling to. In e-sports there are some big names and large sums of money put into sponsorships and advertising, but that is not the same as being put into the games directly. I suppose there is a difference in a fashion company injecting some advertising into a game that is successful, and them creating their own game. Good games often start with the player at the heart, but starting from a point of saying I want to build a game around fashion to sell our brand sounds like a recipe for disaster. 

Though gaming may be the new advertising technique for fashion brands, this is not the first time gaming and fashion have merged together. Stardoll is an online game in which players can sign up for free, or pay for a VIP membership, and dress up their characters in the newest season’s clothes from the most popular designers at different fashion weeks. As well as this, you can put high-end makeup on your avatar, and design their houses with the most luxury interiors. Launched in 2004, Stardoll is one of the biggest online fashion communities with more than 450 million users. Whereas B Bounce and other fashion games can be played via mobile phone, Stardoll is substantially played on computers and laptops. 

Stardoll

Sofia Ivanov, 23, from Estonia has been playing Stardoll continuously for 13 years, and is now one of the highest scoring players amongst the millions of players; “when I started playing Stardoll it was new to everyone. All my friends from school were playing, and people all over the world were talking about it. In recent years the quality of the game has declined. There are far less brands featured on the site, and Stardoll’s social media and help team are very rarely active. Many accounts have been hacked, and no one will help the owners of those accounts. I think it is because Stardoll isn’t as popular anymore. This kind of online game is no longer appealing to new players. They would rather play something on their phone rather than their computer.” 

Whereas gaming used to typically be a platform for young children and teenagers, the age of gamers has increased to predominantly 25-34 year olds due to mobile apps and 35-44 year olds following closely behind, according to Mobile Marketing Associates. As well as this, women are also more likely to download mobile gaming apps.

Some of fashion’s strongest qualities are the shared by the world of gaming, with creativity being one of them. Gaming is no longer for children, it’s for everyone, and the fashion industry is making the most of it.  

Have you tried any of these games or apps? Let us know what you think by tweeting us @Fashion_North.

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