I'm by no means a gaming girlie (though I do have fond memories playing Super Smash Bros. as Jigglypuff during my youth), but the virtual direction many designers have taken in recent months — Collina Strada's CollinaLand is a highlight — is a sign that video games could very well be the future of fashion.
At least that's what came to mind when playing "Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow," Balenciaga's first foray into the gaming world. The game also doubled as the brand's unveiling of its Fall 2021 collection, which consisted of 50 looks seen on model avatars throughout each level (five of them, to be exact).
Though intended to be used on multiple devices, I had the best user-friendly experience playing it on my MacBook as opposed to my phone or tablet (the mousepad and keys provided the best player movement). The goal is to complete all five levels, or zones, under the 20-minute timeframe while you walk through different environments like a store, busy street and dark forest.
Essentially, you're navigating a world dreamt up by Balenciaga's creative director Demna Gvasalia set in 2031, the year where the clothes are presumably intended to be worn. "The narrative of Afterworld is anchored to mythological pasts and projected futures with timeless archetypes and speculative imagery," read the company's press release. "The world may appear to be decaying at first, but it is far from a dystopian view, showing instead the slow return to a healthier balance of nature and industry."
The game culminates at Zone 5 with the discovery of a sword at the end of a mountain top, where the "hero" has finally become (as it is referred to in Hero's Journey analysis) a Master of Two Worlds. Your prize is a real-life breathing exercise, after which you're redirected to Balenciaga's Fall 2021 lookbook to get a closer look at the collection from all angles.
Perhaps the best part of the experience, however, was taking the time to carefully examine the surroundings in each level (I went back and played the game again to get a second look), which offered up clues as to Gvasalia's dystopian commentary and vision of the future — drone honeybees, flying buses and ads for lab-grown food. Billboards promoting energy renewal, water conservation and other eco-friendly practices are also seen throughout.
The clothes will feel familiar to Demna fans — puffer jackets, oversized hoodies and logo tees — but with some new details like NASA-branded outerwear, blankets that double as hooded capes and some striking metal armor boots that will no doubt have several waitlists in its future.