Fashion is no stranger to product placement in popular culture. Every year we have a media spectacle around the red carpet of the Oscars and are made to obsess over “who wore what?” While the red carpet gives designers a chance to leverage pop culture spectacles for the marketing of their own brand, it seems the fashion industry is continuously seeking new and novel ways to gets consumers to celebrate and fetishize their brands.
In the recent blockbuster release of Final Fantasy XV from the Japanese developer Square Enix, computer-generated characters in the game wear designer clothes in a manner that is in some ways synonymous with how real-life celebrities are dressed by certain brands. Your “party” in the game (basically the characters who the player controls and watches for the majority of the 50+ hour long playtime) are all wearing clothes designed by the Japanese streetwear brand Roen. Unfortunately due to the long and laboured development of the game (over 10 years) the designs for the character’s costumes were all made years ago and, as many players have noted, reflect an outdated sense of what looks “cool.” Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped Roen from selling a capsule collection of the characters clothing for purchase (at designer prices no less: one pair of pants was over a grand).
Even more interesting (given the prestige and exclusivity of the brand name), Vivienne Westwood is featured prominently in the game. Part of the game’s narrative arc involves the player character, Noctis, being married off in a spectacular royal wedding to a noble from a neighbouring kingdom. On player’s drive over to this neighbouring kingdom, they may hear radio reports about how Noctis’s bride-to-be has had her dress made by Westwood. Later on in the game, the game even rewards player’s for visiting a Vivienne Westwood boutique to view the dress. This is an especially bizarre feature in a game with a fantasy setting, similar to if Star Wars characters suddenly started wearing Burberry coats.
This isn’t even the first time the franchise has rubbed shoulders with fashion brands. In January of this year, Louis Vuitton featured an entire ad campaign with Final Fantasy characters, and in 2012 Prada had an entire Lookbook with Final Fantasy characters posed in their clothing. While I’m sure there’s some artistic analysis that could explain the connection between the popular gaming franchise and high fashion, for now I’m just going to enjoy the bizarreness of this marketing pairing.