Ted Baker has gotten the gaming bug, revealing Friday that it will preview its fall 2021 collections within Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The British fashion house created a virtual destination inside the game called “Ted Baker Island” to showcase the brand campaign and apparel. The company collaborated with Kara Chung, a visual artist, musician, gamer and Instagram influencer known for the account, “Animal Crossing Fashion Archive,” on the project.
Visitors can check out five different virtual environments — from a walled flower garden to a beachfront pier scene — cast in night-time, party-like atmospheres. The scenes were inspired by settings in Ted Baker’s Street Party Sessions, an immersive, digital-first music series launched by the brand in September.
Players will be able to dress for the occasions, choosing from 20 digital versions of apparel from the fall line to outfit their avatars, including party dresses, printed shirts, bucket hats and more.
The announcement described the project as an “unexpected move,” but consistent with the brand’s penchant for experimenting with new digital formats “in a bid to develop its cultural capital and capture market share from a Millennial audience.”
According to Jennifer Roebuck, chief customer officer at Ted Baker, the company has “an appetite for innovation, [so] it makes sense for Ted Baker to begin to explore the gaming space.”
“This is a playful extension of our Street Party Sessions campaign that will allow us to engage with new audiences globally and shift brand perceptions,” she told WWD.
Visitors of the island can also check out in-game photo opportunities and other interactive elements, like QR codes.
While key taste makers from the Animal Crossing community get a preview of the action, Ted Baker also plans to issue codes to the general public that grant access to the island on Monday.
Animal Crossing has been a popular Nintendo title since its release in 2001, spawning different versions, including New Horizons. The game has soared over the course of the pandemic among players looking for diversion or social connection, inspiring accounts like Chung’s.
For Ted Baker, this dynamic offers a unique opportunity for fashion.
“Partnering with credible voices within the Animal Crossing community provides us with an authentic opportunity to shape and create an unexpected way for our customers to consume fashion content,” Roebuck added.
The project marks Ted Baker’s initial foray into gaming, which is a notable first for the company that lays strategic groundwork.
As the retail sector grappled with the pandemic, and still does, the brand shifted to focus on “more youthful” consumers. The choice makes technology an imperative, given the digitally native orientation of a younger audience. A string of initiatives from Ted Baker speak to that, including support for Apple Pay and Klarna purchase options, “Ask Ted Baker” virtual shopping launched over the last holiday season and its adoption of Instagram Checkout earlier this year.
Now, with the company embracing virtual worlds and digitally dressing avatars, it’s game on.