This story is part of our new The future of gaming series, a three-site look at gaming’s most pioneering technologies, players, and creators.
Video game fashion is often uninspired and close to Hot Topic: T-shirts with a game logo ironed on the front, or zipped sweatshirts with a garish all-over print of an animated character. It’s rare to see a product that feels like it’s taken from a game world (like THE Disco Elysée jacket) or one that’s subtle enough that you can wear it to dinner without anyone knowing you’re playing your favorite RPG.
When I first saw “The lands between,” THE Ancient Ring-collection inspired by the luxury streetwear brand ARK/8, I felt like I was looking at the future of fashion linked to video games. Nothing is so sophisticated that it’s unwearable (the line is still firmly rooted in a streetwear aesthetic), but the entire collection could easily be worn by someone strutting around SoHo, or captured and posted to Instagram by Watch New York and no one would know that it refers to a video game.
A luxurious blood-red faux fur coat that resembles the lion draped over Godfrey’s shoulder, an oversized white menswear-inspired button-down shirt with Queen Marika stretched across the back, a few elegantly distressed crewnecks – all of it if it’s the case. classy and so cool that I can’t help but get excited watching everything.
I was so curious about the person behind the designs that I reached out via email to ARK/8’s creative director, Dimitri van Eetvelde, to find out what inspires him and what he thinks is the future of gaming fashion.
Find fashion inspiration in Ancient Ring
First, van Eetvelde made one thing very clear: ARK/8 is not a video game sales company, it is a “fashion brand with gaming and pop culture as its DNA.” He compared this to the fact that “skateboarding is part of the DNA of brands like Supreme or Vans.” For him, too much gaming-related clothing is “very safe” items like “printed basics or pieces more suited to cosplay and gaming conventions.”
“The problem is that most licensed companies don’t care about games, it’s just a business decision. They sell the same T-shirt, whether it’s Jack Daniels or Iron Maiden or Assassin’s Creed” he said. Van Eetvelde understands this approach, because he’s done it before: his first fashion company, Level Up Wear, was a line of printed t-shirts and outerwear launched in 2007, which focused on printing branded content on high-quality t-shirts. For him, Level Up Wear “was the beginning of the concept of gaming and quality together”, although it quickly reached a creative limit and wanted to find a way to further explore high-quality clothing and gaming-inspired designs. That’s when ARK/8 was born, fully materializing in 2019 after several iterations (including, briefly , as high-end jewelry made in Italy).
The Lands Between collection marries high-end fashion with gaming, but not in a reductive way: while items like the Boss Door t-shirt or Queen Marika button-down clearly feature more obvious gaming references, there are also a sense of evocation at play here. . “We wanted to create a collection that didn’t feel like a repeat of the video game merchandise model, focusing on key characters or iconography, or using heavily illustrated prints,” van Eetvelde said. “Ancient Ring was going to be approached not from a traditional asset/graphic angle, but from a texture and world immersion angle.
Brilliantly, the design team looked at “content exploration and discovery,” which van Eetvelde says is a key part of Ancient Ring playability. From there, two visual themes emerged: maps and the Tarnished aesthetic. “The map is so beautifully done,” van Eetvelde said. “The challenge then was technical, as it took a few tries to make it look dynamic and detailed on different fabrics.” The “Our Lands Between Bomber Jacket” result is pretty wild, though: a “seemingly infinite print” of the game’s map, swirling colors across the model’s torso. The tarnished aesthetic is reflected in the distressed but sturdy round collars, which van Eetvelde suggested mimic the way players begin their Ancient Ring experiences. “You start at the bottom of the game, your clothes are in tatters. It’s tough, like most FromSoftware experiences, but there’s also this robustness, this persistence to get up and dust yourself off, death after death.
The future of video game fashion
With individual items ranging from $145 to $2,500, it’s a beautiful, if expensive, collection that elevates gaming-related fashion, and according to its lead designer, The Lands Between is only the beginning of ARK/8. THE Ancient Ring The collection is the brand’s “guinea pig,” according to van Eetvelde: he gave me a glimpse of a cool, vibrant model. Monitoring a release coming soon that includes a D.Va bodysuit that I absolutely have to have and a very cool Genji inspired zipper.
“ARK/8’s mission is to establish a platform to elevate the conversation around gaming and the incredible art, music and stories that underpin these amazing entertainment creations,” said van Eetvelde. “There is a constant, it’s not just one-off like most collaborations. Fashion is a way to express our passion and show the game in a new light.
During our conversation, he cited a few other examples of the somewhat dissonant worlds of fashion and gaming colliding and creating something incredible. “I liked the Han Kjobenhavn Diablo IV track parts for example, because they pushed the limits. I think the LOEWE one of them was also very good because Jonathan Anderson really has a passion for Ghibli films and this is reflected throughout the collection. It is full of details and complex executions. I want to see more. »
For game developers and fashion brands, the philosophy of ARK/8 can and should be leveraged for future collaborations. I want to see more high-profile runway pieces, more polished streetwear looks, and less garish, ironed mushroom 1-Ups and zip-up sweatshirts meant to look like Samus’ power suit. Video games are visual marvels, brimming with color and creativity. Let’s create more clothing and accessories that reflect this.
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