Cover of Highsnobiety's white paper "Select Your Character"

LONDON Streetwear and pop culture site Highsnobiety on Thursday will release its first six-part white paper, titled “Select Your Character,” that will explore the collision between gaming and fashion, and the virtual future of luxury, WWD can exclusively reveal.

The paper touches on topics like who are the gamers, trading stocks, collecting NFT art, and bidding on sneakers, and features insights from industry experts such as Riot Games’ Seth Haak, Acronym designer Errolson Hugh, musician Arca, and visual artist Kara Chung.

Thom Bettridge, editor in chief of Highsnobiety, said one of the major conclusions that it drew from the paper is that gaming itself is so ubiquitous that it’s almost a mistake to look at it as a category.

“Calling someone in Gen Z a gamer is like calling a Baby Boomer a ‘television-watcher,’ or calling a Millennial a ‘social media user,'” he said, adding that “79 percent of the Highsnobiety readers we polled described themselves as ‘gamers,’ which for a style website is wild to think about.”

Bettridge also said statistics in the report point to “a real urgency” that fashion brands need to figure out how to show up in the gaming world in order to maintain relevance.

“So many of the readers and experts we spoke to follow creators who design clothing directly for the virtual world. And a surprising number of readers — more than a quarter — have designed their own virtual clothing. Optimistically for brands, however, readers expressed that seeing the brands they follow show up in their favorite games creates a huge uptick in brand affinity,” he added.

He personally finds it is fascinating to see how the style tribes that exist in the real world translate into the virtual one. For example, sports gamers are Jordan brand fans, and fantasy gamers have an outsize affinity for Comme des Garçons and Maison Margiela.

Another useful finding in the report said that brands and figures who join their world rather than copying its aesthetic have found the most success.

“Louis Vuitton designing skins for the game League of Legends is an example of joining the party. Whereas Vogue making a Gigi Hadid game is gaming-flavored fashion content, not something gamers themselves seem to identify with,” it said.

The white paper will be released gradually under the newly introduced Highsnobiety Insights newsletter, which gives the platform’s readers an opportunity to look beyond streetwear drops and collaborations news.

Bettridge said this product is targeting industry peers in the media and marketing worlds, and young people who just want to understand more about the fashion industry and how it’s evolving.

“Style is the cultural sport of our time, so you don’t need to be a member of the industry to want to follow these dynamics closely,” he added.

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