Digital Marketing Redux   //   January 4, 2024

Why fashion brands are inching into the gaming arena

Fashion brands are looking to be bigger players in the gaming industry.

Tommy Hilfiger teamed up with games publisher Tilting Point to create its own fashion styling game, called FashionVerse, which will be released this month. Luxury label Dolce & Gabbana and gaming brand Razer released a wardrobe and video game accessory collection in November. Last summer, luxury clothing brand Ralph Lauren and European esports organization G2 Esports launched a capsule collection that features tracksuits, t-shirts and hoodies.

Fashion and video games might be two different industries but companies in both categories are banding together to win the attention of gamers. The gaming market is now a multibillion-dollar industry with global recognition and a large young audience. Brands are increasingly recognizing the potential of the gaming industry to connect with people in an immersive way and potentially foster technological innovations. 

Fashion brands have slowly been dipping their toes in gaming in recent years, but now the massive growth in the industry has become hard to ignore. In 2023, the amount of gamers worldwide is estimated to hit 3.38 billion and the industry will generate as much as $184 billion, Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report indicates.

“That’s bigger than the global film business, the global TV streaming business and all of North American Sports combined,” said Chris Erb, founder and managing partner of video game marketing agency Tripleclix. He added that the vast majority of Gen Zers plays video games. “It’s really about kind of authentically connecting with that audience, and gaming is just the perfect spot for them to reach that audience.” 

Gamers are a highly engaged and active group of people, which could make them valuable shoppers. Erb said that unlike other forms of entertainment, people can spend long hours playing video games. Some even have multiple screens to both play and watch others play games at the same time. When they aren’t playing games, many of them also join discussions with other gamers. 

As a result, fashion brands are making an extra effort to put their logos in front of gamers. Dolce & Gabbana’s collection with Razer, for example, was unveiled during RazerCon 2023 — a major gaming industry event. G2’s athletes and content creators also wore Ralph Lauren’s capsule collection with G2 Esports during the League Of Legends European Championship (LEC) Summer Playoffs in Berlin.    

For Tommy Hilfiger, there is opportunity to capture some of the spending happening in video games. In an interview with Vogue Business, Tommy Hilfiger said that he sees video games as a potential retail platform. FashionVerse is an app that lets players dress avatars with realistic 3D clothing. They could also buy more pieces or win rewards to enhance their wardrobes.

“With e-sports and video games that have already come out, there’s evidence of that. The amount of shopping that goes on during gameplay is, I would say, incredible,” Hilfiger told Vogue Business in December. 

“There’s such a vast base of gamers, not just in the U.S., but around the world, it’s growing rapidly in emerging markets like Asia,” said Sky Canaves, senior analyst of retail and e-commerce at Insider Intelligence. “[Brands] saw the opportunity to create new digital experiences that could be very immersive and unique.”

Canaves added that the advanced tech capabilities offered by gaming companies are drawing in these fashion brands. Some brands have previously struggled to offer consumers a premium online shopping experience, she said. 

For instance, LVMH partnered with Fortnight creator Epic Games in June to create immersive digital experiences with the video game company’s 3D technology. LVMH’s brands are looking to create virtual fitting rooms and fashion shows as well as AR-fueled experiences.    

However, appealing to the gaming community isn’t easy. Tripleclix’s Erb said that gamers are a very passionate audience so brands have to find ways to connect with them authentically. When brands decide to be involved with gaming, they also have to be sure they invest in a long-term plan and not a one-off marketing campaign. 

For example, in May, personal care brand Dove received backlash from gamers and industry insiders when it teamed up with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to create an ad that criticized overly sexualized women in video games.

“You can’t come in here and take from the culture. You have to come in and add to the culture and I think that’s the most important thing,” Erb said. “Don’t think about gaming as a way to market to consumers. It’s a way to start to build a relationship with this audience.”