The expansive partnership between luxury maison and video game has obvious benefits for each: Balenciaga will meet a new audience of engaged players and Fortnite will enter into the high fashion lexicon. (Louis Vuitton and Nicolas Ghesquière also embarked on a similar partnership in 2019 with League of Legends.) But the Balenciaga x Fortnite collaboration isn’t just about marketing each brand to a new demographic, it’s about building a new shared language of creativity. “It’s not just about the outfits,” Phil Rampulla, Epic’s head of brand, told me on a Zoom call, “It’s the ultimate self-expression.”
Pushing fashion into new dimensions has been Gvasalia’s mission since his first collection at Balenciaga, and with a fully realized virtual world within Fortnite, he’s doing what few other designers have ever done before: exploring the metaverse in a more democratic way. It’s not a pricey NFT, it’s not a secretive Bitcoin item, or an exclusive augmented reality experience; Balenciaga’s Fortnite partnership puts the brand into the hands of millions of dedicated players with a relatively low barrier to entry.
Take it from a 13-year old player, who, having heard about the collab, told me, “This is so cool.”