There are two types of people in this world: those who like gaming and those who like fashion. Or, at least there used to be. That’s how model, gamer and self-professed nerd Jasmine Asia remembers it. She started playing video games as a five-year-old and can remember a time when she felt like she could only be interested in one or the other, but never both. It wasn’t long though before Asia realised she could combine the two — and the industry wasn’t far behind either.
In the last few years, we’ve seen gaming and fashion collide in major ways. Popular online game Fortnite — which sees about 83 million monthly users — has partnered up with brands like Balenciaga, Moncler, and, most recently, Ralph Lauren, to create digital collections that characters can wear in game. (Both the Balenciaga and Ralph Lauren collabs included limited-edition physical merch as well.) Balenciaga wasn’t new to the space, either: Creative Director Demna Gvasalia revealed the brand’s autumn 2021 collection via a futuristic, specially designed game called “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.” Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton has teamed up with League of Legends, Valentino with Animal Crossing, and Gucci with games like The Sims, Pokémon Go (with its North Face collaboration), and more. Our digital avatars have never dressed better.
“Like the phone and like the internet did with our lives, [fashion and gaming] are just melding,” R29 fashion writer Frances Solá Santiago said during Thursday’s R29 Twitch stream. “As more people gravitate and move their lives into Web3 and gaming, fashion is just finding a way to embed itself there.”
That’s exactly what Asia has found, she explained to both Santiago and R29 Entertainment Director Melissah Yang during the discussion. Still an avid gamer, she’s made a name for herself as a pro model by bringing the two worlds together. “Everyone [says] to just do what you love, so I’ve naturally made my work around gaming or as close to gaming as I can possibly get,” she says. “At any photoshoot, I’m just thinking about how I can make it nerdy or include a tongue-in-cheek reference.” That’s why you can see the model in campaigns for YSL Beauty centred around the identity of a gamer, actually playing games in a campaign for Agent Provocateur, or sporting a headset for Nike x Asos.
Like most of us, Asia has those days where she struggles with how she looks or doesn’t feel super comfortable in her own skin, but both her modelling jobs and the intersection of fashion and gaming have had an unexpected empowering effect. Getting dressed up in games and customising characters has been a way for her to express her authentic self doing what she’s most passionate about. “I’ve fallen in love with my face — I appreciate the parts of me that are unique, so I always try to make any character customisation … look as close to me as I can get it,” she said, referencing games like Elden Ring. “I want to see some resemblance to me because I love myself, and I love seeing how I could look in a different world.”
That’s part of what drives Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, the co-founders of digital fashion retailer DressX. On both the brand’s site and app, you can discover digital-only pieces (currently, there are over 3,000 available from different designers, the majority of whom are digital designers), try them on, purchase them, store them in your Metaverse closet and get dressed for your online identity. During the stream, Shapovalova and Modenova explained that they see DressX as a way to encourage less shopping and consumption, especially for content creators — why buy physical clothes just to take a single IG photo when you can do it all digitally?
But the co-founders also find a ton of inspiration in how their users experiment with DressX designs, which is not so far off from the playful self-confidence Asia has unlocked in this world. “Digital fashion can provide so much creativity to people, and that’s exactly why we love it,” said Shapovalova. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to express themselves using the language of fashion and the digital space.”