Even Karl Lagerfeld would agree that video games are fashionable. The Chanel prince will be featured in Grand Theft Auto IV: Vice City, not bustinâ€™ caps on drug dealers or picking up hookers, but playing the gameâ€™s D.J., “They are the games of our times,” he said. “Those games in a way changed the world.”
A once nerd-associated pastime has transformed into an ultra-hip hobby of guys and gals alike. From Atari to Nintendo, vintage gaming graphics have been incorporated into streetwear tees, hoodies, accessories, and even bottoms. With bold colors, digital graphics and street styles, brands such as Joystick Junkies and TorrelTorrel have successfully fused video games, pop culture and fashion.
â€œAs a kid growing up my money was spent on either video games or clothes…â€
London-based brand Joystick Junkies showcases Atari-inspired designs from Pong, Missile Command, Breakout, Asteroids and Centipede. Images that first appeared in the â€˜70s and â€˜80s with the Atari 2600 console have become icons of pop-culture. Launched in 1972, Atari pioneered some of the worldâ€™s most famous arcade games, video game consoles and home computers.
Joystick Junkiesâ€™ Creative Director, Chris Birch, gets a little nostalgic, â€œMost people have an Atari story, whether they fell in love with the Atari 2600 console like me or were in the rave scene in the â€˜90s when DJs and artists wrote their dance floor anthems on the Atari ST. It spans so many generations of Atari love and gives us a massive catalogue of inspirational art for our new collections.â€
The video game apparel business has moved faster than its playersâ€™ stash. New York based TorrelTorrel has seen such success that getting on the phone with a sales agent is a challenge. Try getting on the phone with a publicist let alone Mr. Torrel himself. After five hang-ups and three automatic voicemail forwards, try telling the receptionist youâ€™re calling from Vogue — and still, no response. Needless to say, the video game apparel world has left no casualties.
This father-and-son owned company unleashed its line of Nintendo-inspired clothing in 2007, featuring old-school design logos that would make any gamer swoon. Torrel Harris Jr. designs each piece, â€œI have personally owned every Nintendo video game system released… As a huge fan of video games particularly Nintendo products, I came up with the idea and was able to propose a licensing agreement to them. The strength of my fatherâ€™s company in the licensed apparel industry played a large part in their willingness to enter a licensing agreement.â€
But possessing the resources is only half the battle; understanding the demographic is the other. â€œAs a kid growing up my money was spent on either video games or clothes,â€ tells Torrel Jr. â€œI’m a huge Mario and Zelda fan, I can spend hours just exploring the complex levels and finding new things in these games. I am loving my Wii and my DS Lite. I am currently trying to beat Super Mario World (again) thatâ€™s probably one of my favorites. I like to beat every level.â€ The target audience is the â€˜stylishâ€™ gamer, â€œa person who can appreciate the Nintendo brand as so many of us have grown up playing these gamesâ€¦ and continue to play Nintendo products.â€
Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry with its apparel complement not far behind. Torrel Jr. makes his predictions, â€œI think the video game lifestyle will continue to growâ€¦ There are many types of people who fit into this lifestyle and with quality, innovative and successful systems such as the Wii, I see it continuing to grow.â€
With any pop-culture movement, whatâ€™s most important is simply knowing whatâ€™s up. Through the famous stylist Michel Gaubert, Lagerfeld is able to stay in tune, â€œI’m very much ‘au courant’ and know what’s going on.”