Epic Games is partnering with fashion house Balenciaga to bring the first-ever high-fashion Fortnite skins into the game. But the two companies aren’t just working on virtual clothes. They’re also partnering on an in-game Balenciaga-themed hub and a real-world clothing line that you’ll be able to buy.
There will be four new skins, which you can see in the below photo, and each will have alternate styles. Epic is also planning to sell other Balenciaga-themed accessories, including a pickaxe based on the Speed Sneaker and Balenciaga backpack back blings.
The new gear will be available both in in Fortnite’s usual in-game storefront and in the Balenciaga-themed “Strange Times” Creative hub, which includes a virtual Balenciaga store where you can buy the cosmetics. Below is a preview of what that area looks like — there’s even an in-game animated billboard above the virtual store featuring the walking dog Doggo in the hoodie. That billboard will show up in the real world, too, in Tokyo, London, Seoul, and New York City.
And if you love the hoodie Doggo is wearing, you’ll be able to buy it and a number of other items, including crew neck shirts, T-shirts, and hats, as part of the real-world Fortnite-themed Balenciaga collection. Those clothes will go on sale on Monday or Tuesday, depending on your location.
Epic isn’t the first video game to collaborate with a fashion house. Gucci partnered with Roblox on a surreal virtual garden in May, for example, while Louis Vuitton made skins for characters in Riot Games’ League of Legends in 2019. Balenciaga itself made a video game to debut its Fall 2021 collection that was made in Unreal Engine.
But the pairing of Fortnite and high fashion is an obvious one given how important virtual outfits are to the culture of the game. “Fortnite is fashion,” Adam Sussman, president of Epic Games, said in an interview with The Verge. “The entire experience of Fortnite is centered around self expression, player agency, and the ability to live out a fantasy of portraying characters and outfits that people want to wear.”
He has a point; when I play Fortnite, I’m constantly shuffling through different outfits and accessories to fit my mood or to create fun mashups. (Such as, say, having Master Chief wield Kratos’ Leviathan Axe while The Madalorian’s Grogu floats behind him.)
The partnership between Epic and Balenciaga also could be a preview of how Unreal Engine is used to create virtual and real-world experiences in the future. That animated Doggo billboard that will appear in-game and in actual cities, for example, was made in Unreal Engine and reused assets created as part of Epic and Balenciaga’s collaboration. It seems likely that we’ll see Epic doing similar transmedia pushes for other Fortnite partnerships down the line.
Epic didn’t commit to if or when we might see other fashion collaborations, but it sounds like it’s definitely a possibility. “I think this is just the start,” said Emily Levy, who works on partnerships at Epic. “I think what’s really special about what we can do with our technology and with our community is create new ways for players to self-express [and] also new ways for players to experience fashion. I think you’re going to continue to see us explore what those two opportunities can look like for our community.”