Sports New Arena: Esports and Gaming
Professional competitive video gaming is changing how we define sport
Esports (the name given to professional competitive video gaming) is becoming more mainstream thanks in part to the events of the last year. Although esports has been around for decades, the cancelation of live sport’s in 2020 has led to growth in viewership and participation. Many leagues, teams and fans have turned to esports to look for alternative entertainment. Formula 1's 2020 virtual grand prix was record-breaking with a total of 11.4 million live stream views across all digital platforms – a 98% increase on 2019.
While traditional sports are now returning, esports is here to stay. Professional gamers are the athletes of the future, with many participants citing the skill, strategy and hours of practice required to win games. Alex Ingildsen CCO at LTP Group states
“We anticipate the sector to get more competitive as it heats up, with newcomers and traditional sports brands creating new capsules to cater to the esport fan and participant. Esports will be the next battleground for the years to come.”
Here, Ingildsen and designer/trend forecaster Chantell Fenton discuss the potential of esports and what opportunities lie ahead.
The Growth of the Esports Lifestyle Brand
As the gaming market continues to grow rapidly, product inspired by the esports aesthetic, as well as styles designed specifically to enhance function and ability while gaming are hitting the market.
Top esports teams like the FaZe Clan are building lifestyle brands to cater to their engaged fan base with player jerseys and streetwear-inspired styles. The brand collaborated with the NFL last year on merch that celebrated the Draft-A-Thon, the first-ever virtual draft.
100 Thieves also has an exciting offer. The brand was founded in 2017 by Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag, the former OpTic Gaming Call of Duty captain, X Games gold medalist, and 2014 Esports Athlete of the Year. The brand mirrors the streetwear model with limited edition drops and the collections sell out fast.
DRKN is another exciting brand that grew out of a collective passion for gaming and computer culture for casual gamers and esports enthusiasts alike. Andbox is also one-to-watch. The esports organisation based in New York is credited with bringing fashion to gaming, collaborating with Undefeated, Nike and Public School. These relatively new brands have big ambitions. Xset, the community-driven esports organisation wants to be the Nike of esports.
The Collab Is Officially On
The fashion industry has been making greater strides into e-sports and gaming as well. In 2019, Louis Vuitton designed the trophies for League of Legends. The fashion house then went on to create a capsule dubbed LVxLoL, in collaboration with Riot Games which sold out within an hour. The increasing crossover between fashion, sport and esports is leading to some unique collaborations.
Foot Locker Inc. teamed up with Champion to create gear associated with five top Esports teams. David Robertson, director of brand marketing for Champion, said the brand had identified e-sports as an opportunity about 18 months ago.
Puma also teamed up with Los Angeles-based e-sports group Cloud9 to provide the official game-day gear for players and replica gear for fans.
The ‘Gamification’ of Fashion
In the wider fashion market gaming design elements are increasingly integrated within a non-game context. Trend Forecaster Lucie Greene, who led J. Walter Thompson’s global futures think tank JWT Intelligence told WWD
“the aesthetics of gaming and e-sports will even bleed into beauty and fashion”
Balenciaga unveiled its A/W 21 collection in a video game, titled “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.” The game is set in 2031. Players can create an avatar, are guided to the store, encouraged to browse the range and complete challenges.
Expect the physical and virtual world to increasingly intertwine in the months and years ahead.
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with bluesign & GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam.
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in nine fully-owned factories.
About Chantell Fenton
Chantell is an experienced performance sportswear designer and trend forecaster, with a passion for wellness, technology and function-first design. Chantell has an in-depth knowledge of how to spot and translate the must-have trends and macro shifts for the sports and outdoor industry. For more details visit www.chantellfenton.com