$10,000 for the Gucci Xbox Series X? If you think the world has gone mad, read on to understand why fashion's latest collaboration actually makes a whole lot of sense.
With the Gucci Xbox Series X announced for launch last week, fashion's relationship with gaming has officially gone mainstream. In recent years, luxury brands have crafted one-off virtual worlds and skins (in-game clothes for avatars) with platforms such as Roblox, Fortnite and Zepeto, for dedicated online communities. Gucci's latest exercise in branding is symptomatic of the underlying values behind fashion and gaming's courtship: exclusivity and individuality. Nothing says that better than a monogrammed gaming console, right?
Gamers have always taken pride in the outfits their avatars wear, however heritage brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Gucci have become increasingly involved in these online spaces, jostling for the attention of users who make in-game purchases. Newzoo recently reported that three billion people play video games. That's nearly half the entire human race. So what does fashion have to offer?
Louis Vuitton were the first to make the jump into esports back in 2014 when they created the Football World Cup trophy case for League of Legends, before releasing a capsule in 2019 in partnership with Riot Games which existed both IRL and URL. The beauty of being able to dress in your avatar's favourite garms? You can ‘Dress like badass from a video game’, SHOWstudio's resident fashion gamer and head of fashion film Raquel Couceiro told me recently.
Balenciaga collaborated with Epic Games to create a video game for their real life A/W 21 collection earlier this year. Consumers seem to have responded well; Balenciaga were named Lyst Index's second hottest brand in the third quarter of 2021. They later teamed up with the cult gaming platform Fortnite to create four digital skins and an accompanying IRL capsule collection.
Undeniably much of the commotion from fashion and gaming's tie-up comes from Gucci. This summer a collaboration with 100 Thieves, a Los Angeles-based brand, featured a campaign with Nadeshot. Once the world's top Call of Duty player, aka gaming royalty, Nadeshot's inclusion points to the trust the community has in the brand. Earlier this year, the brand's Gucci Garden exhibition space in Florence went virtual, reimagined on the platform Roblox. The multimedia experience brought iconic Gucci campaigns from the Alessandro Michele era to life, as visitors' mannequin-like avatars changed according to the space, offering unique experiences where users enhanced their time on Roblox by connecting intimately with Gucci.
A collaboration with the North Face was digitised on Pokémon Go, making the notion of travel at the core of both clothing brands tangible as users wore the collection while exploring a virtual world. The nature of Pokémon Go encourages the user to unlock different items by physically moving to different spaces, bringing the idea of travel full circle.
Gucci's partnership with the app Zepeto in February 2021 invited users to create 3D animated versions of themselves from scratch, situated in Gucci-fied environments, dressed head-to-toe in the brand. They also recreated their IRL sustainable capsule Off The Grid for the The Sims 4 - featuring a virtual Jane Fonda modelling in an urban treehouse, andTennis Clash invited players to wear the label in the Gucci Open tournament.
Gucci's latest venture is the missing link in their gaming strategy, plastering their iconic logo across the keys to the kingdom. With the promise of interoperability, whereby users can take digital assets seamlessly from platform to platform, still a distant reality, the Xbox hook up allows Gucci into the realms of many different gaming platforms at once - something their digital assets cannot yet offer.
For a generation enamoured by branded accessories, a Gucci Xbox hits the jackpot. Users who spend considerable parts of their day online, also purchasing in-app designer assets, will naturally be open to extending those aesthetics to their consoles. The Gucci XBox Series X package includes two wireless controllers and a case featuring a bicolour red and blue stripe, adapted from the house's heritage red and green colour-way. Adjusting their traditional aesthetic for the gaming consumer is a tried and tested move for Gucci; their acid pink, blue and green Gucci Virtual 25 trainer made creative director Michele's eccentric aesthetic better suited to a digital world, but is somewhat unimaginable as a physical Gucci product.
The double G monogram runs embossed over the black Gucci XBox Series X console, 'an evolution of the original Gucci Rhombi design from the 30s...the GG pattern becomes a wordplay—not only representing Guccio Gucci’s initials but also the gaming phrase "Good Game"', the brand explained in a press statement. 'Gucci Game' has quite the ring to it, and releasing a limited-edition console feels like a natural move for a brand who have made gaming a core part of their strategy.
This digital escapade is, however, remarkably more expensive than previous projects. The Gucci Virtual 25 trainers were available for a democratic $12.99 in the brand's customisable trainer platform Gucci Sneaker Garage, (found inside the Gucci Arcade gaming app), appealing for users who may not typically be able to afford the luxury price points of a Gucci product. The Gucci XBox Series X retails for $10,000.
Whilst as luxury fashion's tie up with gaming can offer users more tools with which to express their identity and individuality, the Gucci XBox Series X suggests that exclusivity still comes at a price which users are willing to pay for. In May 2021, a digital-only version of the cult Gucci Dionysus handbag sold for more than its IRL retail price tag as part of the Roblox project. Available for just one hour, the bag initially sold for 475 Robux (the site's online currency equivalent to $6 USD), before being resold for $4,115 USD (50,000 Robux).
The Gucci Xbox Series X is available on Wednesday 17 November in store in New York, Beverly Hills, Mexico City, Milan, London, Berlin, Beijing, and Tokyo. Find out more information here.