The partnership with the luxury brand is the latest since that of the video game with Ferrari
When Fortnite, one of world’s most popular video games, revealed its partnership with high-end fashion house Balenciaga last month, the collaboration has left many scratching their heads. Why would a fashion company selling clothes priced in the thousands partner with a free video game enjoyed primarily by teenagers and young adults?
New $725 Skins and Hoodies
Last month, Balenciaga Fortnite skins, cosmetic items that change a player’s character or outfit without giving them a competitive edge, became available for 1,200 and 1,500 “V-Bucks”, the in-game currency of Fortnite. Players can purchase 2,800 V-Bucks for $19.99 from Fortnite’s in-game store, bringing the price of these skins to around $10.
The skins have a varied aesthetic. “Ramirez unleashedDons a scaly top that fades from silver to gold, complemented by baggy black jeans with large ripped ripped sections. “Knight gameincludes a helmet and gauntlets to give an otherwise tame techwear outfit a unique Fortnite feel. For gamers with an aversion to cutting-edge fashion, Balenciaga offers “Shady doggoa sartorially safe skin whose hoodie and black tech pants make it the most minimalist ensemble in the collection.
Balenciaga’s Fortnite merchandise for the real world is much more expensive. Fortnite hoodies were initially available for $725, but starting October 25, the Balenciaga online store were both out of stock. The hoodie features the words “Fortnite” and “Balenciaga” on the front and “Retail Row” on the back – a reference to an in-game location on the Fortnite Battle Royale map. The hoodie also comes in white and is a replica of the one worn by Balenciaga’s “Shaddy Doggo” skin in Fortnite.
The resale market for these hoodies has generated profits for some people.
The resale market for these hoodies has generated profits for some people. eBay search results show that Fortnite Balenciaga hoodie sales have reached as high as $1,100. Another Fortnite hoodie sold for $900.
A story of disruption
The Cristóbal Balenciaga house has always caused a stir, and its collaboration with Fortnite is one of many unconventional initiatives taken by the fashion house in recent years.
In the early 2000s, when no self-respecting “it girl” was seen without a designer bag, Balenciaga released its iconic Bag “Classic City”. The City bag stands out from its contemporaries by moving away from the typical glamor associated with luxury fashion at the time and into street-style territory. Although its supple form and heavy material initially prevented it from being mass-produced, rejected prototypes have been seen adorning the arms of models and celebrities. It quickly established itself as an essential accessory of the time.
Now, with creative director Demna Gvasalia at the helm, the brand’s rebellious streak is underscored by unlikely collaborations, including a ready-to-wear line featuring Sony’s PlayStation 5 and, most recently, an appearance in an episode of “The Simpsons” which premiered during this year’s Paris Fashion Week.
Avant-garde or degradation of its image?
Balenciaga has doubled down on collaborations since Gvasalia took office and began working on his vision of the brand as “an uncharted mode of creative freedom and a platform for innovation.” However, for many longtime fans, creative risks hurt Balenciaga’s image more than they help.
So what does Balenciaga hope to gain from its collaboration with Fortnite? In addition to appealing to its growing base of Gen-Z consumers, virtual and in-game versions of real-life designs are making high fashion more accessible.
However, most Fortnite crossovers are with brands that thrive on mass production.
Haute couture fans aren’t too keen on this choice, as luxury brands like Balenciaga have built their reputations on a spirit of exclusivity. According to reviewscollaborations like the one with Fortnite, admittedly subversive, serve to “depreciate” the image of Balenciaga.
The new release “Sneakerhead Bag”, a top-handle handbag inspired by sneakers and priced at $2,150, is another example of this “depreciation”. While it is certainly indicative of the boldness of the Balenciaga brand in its departure from what is generally associated with luxury styles, many in the fashion industry have come to see it as an attempt desperate to rekindle popularity with the younger generation.
Just another collaboration for Fortnite
The Balenciaga partnership is just a drop in the ocean for Fortnite, a game that has thrived through collaborations with Marvel, the National Football League and Ariana Grande.
Fortnite seems to continue to expand its collaborator repertoire in the future.
Fortnite uses these partnerships to create content like new game modes, skins, and in-game music concerts. However, most of Fortnite’s crossovers are with brands that thrive on mass production. Balenciaga does not fit into this mould.
Ferrari is another luxury brand that in partnership with Fortnite. In July, the Ferrari 296 GTB was placed in the game and players could drive it for free for a limited time. Fortnite also released Ferrari skins that could be purchased from the Item Shop.
Data from Google Trends shows that searches for “Ferrari” increased slightly when the car was introduced to the game, returning to normal levels in the following months. Likewise, Balenciaga showed a peak in Google searches during the week that his skins were in the Fortnite Item Shop. Although the skins have left the store, there is a possibility that they will eventually return to the game.
While the lasting effects of Balenciaga’s experience with Fortnite remain to be seen, Fortnite appears to continue to expand its repertoire of collaborators in the future.