There aren’t many occasions to get all dressed up these days, discounting furtive grocery runs and jaunts to throw out the trash. It’s left many fashion-lovers feeling a little mopey: what’s the point in having an envy-worthy wardrobe when nobody’s there to appreciate it?
Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the life-simulation game that has catapulted into everyone’s collective consciousness. It’s a place where you can not only go out and frolic in fields of fresh flowers and laze in the sun, but a place where you get to try on an endless carousel of designer goods. And we’re not talking about dodgy replicas either: brands like Valentino, Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui have created their own custom clothes for the game, translating real-life creations into pixels.
Valentino teamed up with artist and AC player Kara Chung to create a 20-look collection exclusive to the game. Much of the collection consists of iconic looks from the brand’s Spring/Summer 2020 and Pre-Fall 2020 collections — recreated into sublime pixels — replete with neon dresses, printed shirts, and accessories bearing the VLTN logo.
Meanwhile, Marc Jacob brought six pieces from its The Marc Jacobs line to the game, featuring pastel-pink sweaters and powdery blue dress shirts perfect for balmy weather.
Anna Sui’s playful prints wouldn’t be too out of place in the colourful world of Animal Crossing: the brand recently brought 4 pieces of its Spring Summer 2020 collection to the game, which included a rosebud jacket and patterned knit dress.
People are even setting up virtual fashion shows in the game. Berlin-based fashion organisation Reference Festival recently hosted a show featuring looks inspired by Balenciaga, Loewe, and Louis Vuitton — complete with an audience of wolves in oversized Gucci sunglasses and octopi in bucket hats, all set to a backdrop of pulsating music.
And if you’re looking for some of your other fave brands, say, Celine’s instantly recognisable Yves Klein dress (and you’re willing to close an eye when it comes to authenticity) you can find some very savvy players who’ve recreated such looks on IG accounts like Nook Street Market and Animal Crossing Fashion Archive.
The kicker? It all comes for free — players need only enter the humble in-game tailor shop and plug in some codes.
Luxe brands entering virtual worlds isn’t a new phenomenon by any means: see also, Louis Vuitton’s League of legends themed capsule collection that launched late last year, featuring 40 (real life) products that ranged from bandeaus to leather jackets. But few have gained traction the way Animal Crossing has.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you, a human avatar, reside on an island of anthropomorphic animal villagers who come in a range of different species and affable personalities. You build bridges — literally and metaphorically — as you steadily improve your little slice of paradise, thanks to a wide array of terraforming tools customisation options.
If it sounds overtly simple, it is. And that’s where the charm lies — plus, really, the 13 million copies that it has sold in the last two months (making it one of the bestselling console games in history) speaks for itself. But more than that, Animal Crossing provides a much needed escape from the hellishness of what’s going on in real life.
It only stands to reason that with the world in shambles, people would want to escape into Animal Crossing’s pastoral realm. Here, cartoonish goats live alongside their tiger neighbours with no qualms, grizzly bears bid you adieu by waving both clawless paws; the world of Animal Crossing is one where interest rates don’t exist and the closest thing to disease is the occasional flea that plagues your animal-neighbours — summarily removed by hitting them with a net.
To be sure, fashion — and every day living — in Animal Crossing is a far cry from its real life counterpart. It’s nothing close to a replacement. Nothing can quite replicate the feel and look of designer-wear, or being able to head out and breathe in the fresh air. But in these times, putting on a houndstooth dress from Chanel’s haute couture collection and preening on a virtual screen is a welcome, pixellated balm.