Acknowledging that fashion has become an integral part of the Animal Crossing experience, brands are taking this opportunity to tap into a younger market.
Gen Z is well on its way to making up a whopping 60% of the entire luxury market by 2026. In light of this, high-end fashion has been flocking to the gaming world, keen to cash in on what is now a hugely significant platform for promoting trends.
So, when Nintendo released the latest instalment of Animal Crossing in March, brands were more than eager to get involved, aiming to stay engaging and accessible for the influential consumer group.
A hub for gamers and fashion enthusiasts alike, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is currently rife with outfit ideas and unique designs, all thanks to the customization features that allow players to recreate notable pieces from well-known clothing collections. These features have since become one of the game’s biggest selling points, transforming the virtual world into a space for style aficionados to develop a vast range of looks available for anyone to choose from.
Documenting the best fits within the realm of luxury, @animalcrossingfashionarchive is the Instagram account run by fashion photographer, Kara Chung. ‘Video games present the opportunity to explore realities untethered to our public personas,’ she says. ‘They are a sacred space where we can grow in and out of identities just as quickly as we can switch clothing — where the visible can match the rapidly shifting nature of the invisible.’
With over 50K followers and counting, the page’s success has caught the attention of some of the biggest names in fashion, including Marc Jacobs who jumped on the Animal Crossing bandwagon last month with a collab that introduced six of the brand’s most iconic pieces to the game. Valentino also wanted in on the action, following suit with a ‘behind-the-scenes’ from its virtual AC photoshoot that showcased various looks from its SS20 and Pre-Fall collections.
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Quiet on set! Behind the scenes moments are captured from a virtual photoshoot on #AnimalCrossing. Discover the new selection of Mens and Womens looks from the #ValentinoSS20 and #ValentinoPreFall20 collections, virtually reimagined for use on #AnimalCrossing #あつまれどうぶつの森 #どうぶつの森 Animations made in collaboration with photographer @kara__chung of @animalcrossingfashionarchive
Gen Z’s positive response to the accessibility of still being able to post OOTDs – even if they’re virtual – is something that luxury brands are keen to translate into real spending. ‘With the growth of e-commerce, the fashion industry is increasingly leveraging experiential technologies such as virtual events and gamification to reach new audiences and drive business growth,’ finishes Chung. ‘This kind of engagement is key, and brands should absolutely continue to attack the digital realm – their sales depend on it.’
No matter the aesthetic, if Animal Crossing’s authentic integration with so many notorious labels is anything to go by, we’re on the brink of a new era of advertising in which consumers can make decisions on how they want to be marketed to. It’s a progressive move that’s redefining shoppable entertainment in the age of lockdown. And at least now I can rest easy in the knowledge that there’ll be an in-game alternative to whatever I have my eye on when it heartbreakingly sells out.