Real-world fashion shows aren’t really pandemic-friendly, so how do labels get the word out? In 2020, they use Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Designers like Marc Jacobs, Sandy Liang and Valentino have been showing off their latest styles in Nintendo’s village-building game, with download codes. Liang even brought the concept of the exclusive pop-up store to the game, with people waiting up to two hours to get virtual clothing.
The apparel is sometimes the result of collaborations with others, like Marc Jacobs’ team-up with the Animal Crossing Fashion Archive.
It’s a strange move, but it makes sense given the nature of the game and the cultural impact. It’s easy to import custom art into the game too. And when ACNH is wildly popular among people eager for a distraction during pandemic lockdowns, it presents a large potential audience. This keeps the brands in the public eye where the runway and lavish galas just aren’t happening.
The designs are free, of course, but this could fuel the rise of digital-only fashion. They are making a good first impression online. A viral outbreak just makes digital fashion all the more important to people. It is a good way to express yourself when you can’t add real haute couture to your collection.