Once referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior, Balenciaga plans to dominate an entirely new arena via an unlikely collaboration with popular video game Fortnite. Now, players can buy Balenciaga clothing for their in-game characters, and for a much larger price point, they can buy real-life versions of the clothes to wear in the streets.
In-game clothing collabs are nothing new. Fortnite’s developer Epic Games worked with Nike in 2019 to offer Nike Air Jordans skins that players could buy for their on-screen players. This Balenciaga collection, however, will be Epic’s first partnership with a designer brand that moves beyond the screen and into real-world closets.
“Self-expression is one of the things that makes Fortnite so unique,” Epic Games President Adam Sussman states in the company's official announcement, “and there couldn’t be a better first fashion partner than Balenciaga to bring their authentic designs and trendsetting culture to millions of players around the world.”
Gamers will be able to purchase fit sets and other items in-game and find their physical counterparts at Balenciaga's website. Online, certain items will take on alternate forms. The Zoom 3.0 sneakers will serve as a pick axe, while bags will serve as a glider that players can deploy and ride. Two sprays, or types of graffiti useful in team play, can be unlocked for free by completing certain challenges.
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Items in the edit range from simple t-shirts, hoodies and caps inscribed with “Fortnite” and “Balenciaga” logos, to more popular Balenciaga pieces including the Hourglass bag or chunky Triple S sneakers. The color palette stays simple and straightforward with mainly red, black and white items, and prices range from a $395 baseball cap to a $2,550 denim jacket. Multiple pieces sold out within hours of the collection’s release.
“Our partnership with Epic didn’t start with Fortnite, actually,” Balenciaga creative director Gemna Gvasalia says in a statement for Epic Games. “It started with our own first video game, Afterworld, which we built using Unreal Engine to debut our Fall 2021 collection. From there, we have continued to be inspired by the creativity of Unreal and Fortnite communities.”
This collaboration is effectively an expansion from the traditional, purely clothing-focused approach to fashion. The blurring of tech and fashion has been a notable trend in the past few years; Apple x Hermès, Louis Vuitton x League of Legends, and Saint Laurent x Google are only a few recent collaborations between high end designers and the tech industry.