Video games entered mainstream culture decades ago, but these days, gamers are more like celebrities, with millions of fans online. This means, among other things, that the days when players wore jorts and oversized t-shirts are long gone. Esports athletes and streamers now dress with urban flair and opulent sensitivity.
The result is a mix of luxury brand worship, Korean streetwear, video game fantasy and Japanese “kawaii” culture.
Big brands have taken note of it. Tyler Blevins, the mega-popular video game streamer named Ninja, signed a deal with Adidas and released a limited edition “Night Jogger” that sold out almost immediately. Gucci partnered with the London esports team Fnatic on a $ 1,600 dive watch. Louis Vuitton has partnered with League of Legends, the world’s most popular sport, for a limited number of capsules and shirts. And designer Jeff Staple, who is often credited with kicking off the collector’s sneaker revolution, worked with the Overwatch League on a range of jerseys.
“I feel like as streetwear grew, so did gaming culture,” said Staple. “In 2018, when the Overwatch League first made contact, paths began to cross.”
Game accessories are also style. Players wear large headphones with keyboards sticking out of their backpacks. HyperX creates a popular line of gaming headsets. His ambassadors include singer Post Malone, JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Daigo Umehara, the Street Fighter Champion.
For their fans, players offer a wide range of styles, from a hoodie with a team brand to a camouflage jacket and Pokémon cosplay. We spoke to three players about how they feel about their looks: an influencer, a pro gamer, and an amateur gamer.
The 24-year-old Twitch streamer named Pokimane has more than 7 million followers on the platform. Her style combines comfort, cute spectacle and streetwear.
I see a lot of streamers and esports people dyeing their hair non-natural colors. Why?
Whether it’s your hair or accessories, it really becomes part of your branding and, essentially, an icon for you. For example Ninja: It’s the blue hair. For me it has almost always turned out to be curly, wavy, brown hair and wearing a headset.
In terms of accessories, what do you like to wear while streaming?
It’s more about what kind of accessories you don’t want to wear. For example, I’ve found that I usually don’t wear a lot of earrings or bracelets because earrings can really get in the way of your headset and it can kind of hurt. And wristbands interfere with your armrest on your gaming chair.
Streetwear is particularly popular in gaming and esports circles. Why?
It’s still something you are comfortable with. You can pull it up or down somehow. This aspect of comfort is really important if you have been sitting in your PC chair for more than six hours.
Which streetwear brands are you wearing right now?
I love the prix. I’ve always enjoyed a nice pastime – if you were to think of an Adidas or Nike as a kind of streetwear. And one of my favorite stores of all time is called Maniere De Voir.
Is there pressure on women who flock to want to look cute and does that run counter to comfort?
I think because no brand specifically targets that – clothing that is comfortable to sit in or walk around in – it seems that exercise is what everyone uses by default because there is no other option. Adidas, Nike and especially Lululemon.
With a predominantly male audience, is there more demand for sexier outfits on Twitch? Does that match your more humble looks and how do you navigate that?
I think there is a wish for both of them to be honest. There are people out there who ask you to wear more revealing clothes, but when you do, there are people who comment on rude things. I found it best to just do what you want and what makes you comfortable.
How has the pandemic affected your style?
At first, the quarantine didn’t affect my style too much as I always worked from home. Recently, however, I’ve started reaching for the pieces I usually keep for special trips and carrying them around home to spice things up and use them until it’s safe to go out again.
Known as ZooMaa, he is a professional Call of Duty League player for the New York Subliners, part of the Andbox esports organization that hosts a clothing design arm. Earlier this month, he announced that he would be stepping down from the competition due to persistent wrist pain, although he would continue to stream.
What are you wearing here
I wore part of my collection, the hoodie, and just put on jeans and a pair of white shoes. I’m a very simple guy when it comes to clothes.
What was your goal with this collection?
I just wanted something that looked good and that anyone could wear outdoors no matter how old they were. I wanted something that people could wear to school that wouldn’t scream “gamer”.
What do you mean by “Scream ‘Gamer'”?
Like a team name, maybe. Or like a bunch of sponsored jerseys, stuff like that. I wanted something more, like everyday clothes that people could wear to work, school or the office.
Is there something wrong with clothes that scream “gamer”?
Absolutely not. For me, it’s not that not everyone knows a lot about games, so I think it would be really cool to have something that is more versatile that everyone can wear. But obviously I’m a gamer, so I have a bit of fun.
What things are integrated into clothing for play purposes?
Hand warmers are a big deal. So if you have a nice hoodie bag or bags like this, it is a great way to keep your hands warm between games.
And why are hand warmers important?
The venues are always very cold. So if you have hand warmers on deck and only hold them between games, your hands will stay nice and warm and relaxed.
You have a custom PlayStation 4 controller from Scuf Gaming. Explain the importance of a custom controller.
It’s a consolation thing. You do little things that help your game. They give you a really good grip on controls. The smart triggers and smart bumpers that I think are most important. They just react faster than a normal controller.
You grew up in Cranford, New Jersey and now You represent the New York Subliners. How important is your image?
It’s pretty important to me. I always want to represent the team I play for just because I’m proud of it.
Did you change the way you look during the pandemic?
Not really, I just like to change the style depending on what is hot and what time of year it is.
The 20-year-old gamer and aspiring Twitch streamer from San Jose, California walks past Nate.
Explain your outfit with the camouflage jacket.
I chose this jacket just because it is a little different, but not too flashy. I tend not to wear a lot of inks, but I think camouflage is something that isn’t really worn too much anymore.
And what are these necklaces?
One, a skull, and the other is a follower of a lion. They add a bit of flair to everything you wear and add a sense of personality to your outfit. I think one of them specifically looks like an esports team logo, Houston Outlaws.
And then the rest of your ensemble?
Starting with the shoes, I wear the Adidas Yeezy Boost Pirate Black. I think they stand out. Pretty easy because they’re all black, as are the Levi’s 501 Original Fit men’s jeans.
They wear HyperX headphones, and HyperX has advertising deals with great athletes and gamers. Is that why you chose her?
I think HyperX makes a lot of audio devices with better quality and a little more comfort and a cleaner look.
What about the keyboard that you are using?
The keyboard is a Ducky One 2 Mini. It’s a 60 percent keyboard, which means it’s traditionally smaller than most keyboards and also has fewer keys. So the arrow keys are also the keys I, J, K and L. I got on this hype train in which the player Tfue had used this keyboard. I thought it was really cool.
As you build your presence, you gain more influence. And with the clout comes a stronger bond with your personal image and your brand. How does fashion play into all of this?
With clout, you have more people to look at, you have more people to adore. If you don’t have a fashion sense, you can almost be seen like a nerd. But in some ways it changes the way people look at you and make them think whether you’re cool or not.
How did your style change during the lockdown?
Since the quarantine, I’ve been aiming for a much more comfortable look with a skater aesthetic. I think the best part about dressing like this is that it doesn’t have to be very expensive. If you can find clothes, most places are closed, and most of the time indoors, there will be plenty of time to shop online.