In a shift from traditional fashion shows, Balenciaga plays a new strategy to virtually engage fashion followers. The luxury powerhouse plans to present its newest collection via a video game that can be played by anyone around the world.
Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow is set in 2031 and gives a glimpse into Balenciaga’s Autumn/Winter 2021 collection. Players can navigate the virtual realm and meet various characters wearing pieces from the new collection. The game also allows players to complete certain tasks to unveil new items and extend their adventure. Balenciaga will release the game on December 6 via microsite, which consumers can also access through digital and social media promotions. Though releasing a video game itself is atypical of a fashion brand, the timing of the launch is also unusual as brands traditionally stick to a strict fashion calendar. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic disrupting tradition, Balenciaga joins other luxury brands in rewriting the fashion rulebook.
Right before Balenciaga announced its video game, Gucci held GucciFest, its multi-day virtual festival that gave viewers an inside look at its newest collection. In September, Burberry took a similar approach and dropped its collection via livestream on Twitch just a few months after it released a micro-game to promote its summer collection. Other brands have also turned to virtual worlds, including Valentino via Nintendo’s Animal Crossing and Ralph Lauren, which dressed Snapchat’s Bitmojis in its latest luxury goods. As such, Balenciaga is in good company as it navigates the new luxury landscape. With so many brands turning to virtual variations to promote products, it’s clear that the fashion industry could be permanently shifting. As younger consumers—who are more keen to purchase premium goods—prefer video outlets and trending platforms, launching a video game could help Balenciaga diversify its platform from competitors, according to a Gartner report. Additionally, as more consumers prioritize e-commerce over in-store shopping, the shift could appeal to a wider audience and help luxury labels captivate new consumers.
Balenciaga’s futuristic video game could be the drop model of the future. As luxury fashion joins other industries in remodeling its marketing strategies, Balenciaga could prove that virtual games are more than just fun to play, but to shop too.