Can PlayStation x Nike Really Make Video Game Merch Cool?
As we spend our evenings of 2018 hog-tying KKK wizards on horseback outside Saint Denis, video games have never been better. What's more, what was once a niche practice of marginalized teens with bad skin now paddles in the mainstream: Red Red Redemption 2 alone sold 17 million copies in under two weeks, and video games are branching out into both TV and film as a medium proper.
Yet despite this widely-embraced hijacking of former nerd practice, video games have still struggled to permeate one corner of popular culture (and quite possibly the haughtiest corner of them all): style. While Warcraft movies make a whopping $433.7 million at the box office, official merchandise is widely reviled. After all, there's a big difference between watching virtual reality come to life on-screen, and actually wearing that stuff in real life.
That may be changing though. Just last week, Nike announced a collaboration with PlayStation in Oklahoma City. The lovechild: the PG 2.5, sneakers inspired by the brand's first ever console of 1994, and full of very literal references including Sony's signature square, triangle, circle, and X controls, and the vibrant logo against a gray backdrop.
Sure, it's not quite as handsome as a Stan Smith. It's not intended to be. Playstation x Nike has wisely capitalized on two enduring trends du jour: menswear's obsession with logomania, and the nineties, which are now sufficiently far behind enough to be considered retro. Cue ardent gamers and hypebeasts alike cashing in when the PG 2.5 hits stores December 1.
This isn't the first instance of video game merch going cool either, with console-related tributes—again, from Playstation and Dreamcast—enjoying sold-out status in Urban Outfitters. It's hardly Milan Fashion Week, sure. But streetwear is now a major signpost followed by the wider industry, and its moves are well mimicked by the big blue chip brands: Ralph Lauren recently joined forces with British cult label Palace, while Prada and Louis Vuitton both courted the Final Fantasy series with fully-realized CGI campaigns. Encouraging stuff.
So don't write video game merch off just yet. For every T-shirt depicting a scantily-armoured Night Elf in the throes of passion, there may well be a cooler, vintage-tinged tribute to the video games of yore. It's a trend set to go multiplayer.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.