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‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ has become a paradise for Australian fashion enthusiasts

IMAGES VIA CHAU NGUYEN AND NOOK STREET MARKET/INSTAGRAM
WORDS BY CHAU NGUYEN

How a video game is creating an unlikely fashion community and spotlighting some of Australia’s best labels.

In a time where social distancing has become the new norm for the majority of the world’s population, Nintendo came to the rescue with the global release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in March this year. You’ve probably heard of the game, whether you’re an avid player who knows when to sell your turnip stocks or just someone who’s been on the Internet over the last few months – the hype has been inescapable.

For the uninitiated, Animal Crossing is a strangely soothing and very straightforward social simulation video game where you get to be your own mastermind and create a world populated with your favourite animal villagers all while you attempt to pay off a very adorable, but very money-hungry tanuki called Tom Nook.

As to be expected, there are many avid players around the world, but somewhat surprisingly there are also people who play for the fashion. Many fashion enthusiasts have taken their love of luxury clothing into the virtual world, meticulously recreating their favourite designer pieces digitally with the game’s built-in self tailoring tools. But the difference between creating a fun pattern and making an existing designer pattern is the crucial attention to minor details on the character silhouettes, and that’s what’s delighting these fashion-savvy players.

While big names like Valentino are taking advantage of the new phenomenon by virtually releasing a range of in-game designs for gamers to pull, a handful of home-grown Australian names like Dion Lee and Suku Home are also receiving global love thanks to the spread of fans across the world. By having players share posts of their own in-game screenshots of recreated looks from their favourite collections, the game has created an unorthodox form of marketing for some of the best of the best in the local Australian fashion scene.

While it may seem simple, Animal Crossing is becoming a major media platform for designers to grow their audiences from in-game to in-store (or online store at this point). Aside from outfits you can create yourself, you can also pull looks from other players with a creator code that can be shared online.

One such creator is Nook Street Market – yes, that’s an intentional play on retail fashion mecca Dover Street Market. Nook Street Market is run by model Fernanda Ly, designer and DJ Michelle Yue and graphic designer Vivian Loh, and what began as a quarantine creative project has quickly turned into a bit of a phenomenon, with its Instagram sitting at 35,000 fans and counting.

 

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Vivi in @dionlee Code: MO-DYSC-2QKV-60H2 — Requested skin tones: 6: MO-70HR-29W8-VLH4

A post shared by NOOK STREET MARKET (@nookstreetmarket) on

Nook Street Market shares impressive virtual recreations of designer outfits – think Off White, Vivien Westwood, Fendi – to its Instagram along with the in-game code, so players can dress their character in an outfit they perhaps might never be able to afford in real life. Speaking to The Guardian, co-founder Michelle Yue described it as “…a way to live out fashion fantasies without having to pay the steep price”, and its perhaps this freedom, both creative and financial, that appeals to so many players.

With a huge range of homewares, interiors and clothing to choose from, every player has the unlimited ability to express themselves however they choose; perhaps they’re a minimalist Jacquemus-wearing landscape gardener, a Chanel-obsessed architect, a Collina Strada-collecting turnip hoarder or a fashion designer wearing a creation entirely their own

As the game and the virtual fashion community continues to grow with new players sharing their islands and outfits every day, it also gives many brands the chance to reach a wider audience, generating traffic to their websites and social accounts. While fashion mixing with gaming is nothing new, with Louis Vuitton previously teaming up with Square Enix to do an entire campaign with Lightning, one of the protagonists of the ever-popular Final Fantasy franchise, this unforeseen explosion of creativity and self-identity is brand new for Animal Crossing fans.

It’s during these uncertain times that we are turning to the things that provide us with happiness and joy, and Animal Crossing is providing creative fuel for many around the world who have been stuck at home over the last few months, or have faced financial hardship but still want to participate in the world of fashion.

This wonderful virtual dreamscape is giving everyone and anyone a sense of self-expression and happiness that can’t currently be experienced as easily IRL – whether its terraforming your island from nothing to something grandiose, or utilising the in-game tailoring tools to become the most fashionable, chic version of yourself, right now the newest fashion trend seems to be doe-eyed characters indulging their inner fashion designer. So if you haven’t settled down for a 5-hour binging session on Animal Crossing to recreate that mesmerising Dion Lee dress you saw online yet, then get to it. Best of all, your wallet will thank you for it.

animal-crossing.com

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