How The Sims Became a Hub for Digital Fashion

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The strong digital presence of luxury brands today has engaged millions through stay-at-home initiatives, with designers and fashion houses hosting live performances and offering online classes and workshops. As the industry looks to innovative platforms to stay current during the global pandemic, digital fashion and luxury has found an unlikely home in one popular video game as Sims users bring high fashion into the virtual space.

The Sims, a life simulation game that has seen nearly everything from Sim-eating plants to more mundane aspects of life like a bad sunburn, offers gamers an alternate reality where they can create and rule their own mini world. Players make characters, or Sims, and determine how they live, from what they wear and what their house looks like to what job they have and who they date. Users can mirror their own life in the game or live vicariously through their Sims’ adventures.

Since its inception 20 years ago, the game has evolved greatly and is now on its fourth franchise. Many are returning to The Sims, in its current iteration and older versions, as it serves as a healthy dose of nostalgia and a virtual respite from the current global health crisis. The draw for the latest Sims 4 is that it features an incredibly detailed creation aspect, allowing users to create ultra lifelike characters. Many creatives have used the intricate Create-a-Sim feature to fashion and implement some of the most heavily detailed runway looks and luxury accessories into the game. These custom content creators range from YouTubers to Simfluencers, with full Instagram profiles dedicated to their designs. In many ways, the game acts as a virtual closet or portfolio for Sims creators.

Beyond user customization, The Sims is no stranger to high fashion. The game developers partnered with Jeremy Scott last year to create a Moschino stuff pack, filled with branded clothing, modern homewares, and a new fashion photographer career. The partnership came following the Moschino x The Sims capsule collection that dropped in April 2019. However, this one-off collaboration is not the first introduction of luxury to the game. For years, avid Simmers have been creating and sharing unofficial fashion to liven up the game, from pixelated Gucci belts in The Sims 3 to fictional Ugg x Dior collaborations. The quality and meticulous attention to detail seen in current virtual custom clothes, whether it’s a runway look or a simple pair of boots, speaks to experience and practice as many custom content creators have been doing this for years.

The actual process of generating custom fashion for the game is incredibly tedious and complex. With various platforms necessary to build custom content, from a perfectly arched brow to a full Chanel outfit, not every Simmer is capable of designing a personalized character, looking instead to the creations of other users. The Sims has developed a convenient and efficient way for content creators to share popular designs online, allowing players from around the world to access a plethora of original content, from John Galliano-era Dior to multi-million dollar mansions. This approach to sharing digital content has existed within the game for over a decade, with The Sims 3 Exchange and The Sims 4 Gallery providing gamers an easier way to access custom content within the game, rather than scouring the internet for hours on end for stylish clothing and realistic hair.

The video game also offers an outlet for people to virtually own a piece of high fashion that may not be attainable in real life. The creatives producing the designer clothes on The Sims are opening the world of luxury, proving that you don’t need to live in a fashion capital or own the newest Bottega bag to be a part of it. And it doesn’t just stop at the clothes. From virtual fashion weeks to hosting the Met Gala on May 4 (when the real-life gala was set to take place), custom venues are also created so users get to attend industry-exclusive events, showing how multifaceted The Sims fashion world is.

Fashion’s influencer culture has also carried into the virtual space. The rise of AI influencers like Lil Miquela or Noonoouri have paved the way for others to follow. For The Sims, characters such as Cléo Lírio and Queenie share their lives on Instagram, from fronting virtual magazines and walking runways to visiting family and traveling the world. While the social media exposure may make it seem exclusive, in the world of Sims, it’s accessible to anyone. Users get to control the narrative of their characters and make their fantasies a virtual reality.

As the industry continues to adapt amidst COVID-19, digital fashion appears to be the next frontier. Designers and brands are actively seeking innovative ways to hold runway shows and present their newest collections in an effort to stay current while adhering to social distancing policies. For many Sims enthusiasts, digital fashion is nothing new. Skilled creators have been presenting designers’ looks on digital runways for nearly two decades and show no signs of stopping. As Sims-friendly renditions of high fashion ensembles continue to gain traction on the internet, perhaps the simulation game is the perfect outlet for designers to continue to flex their creativity while allowing audiences to engage with fashion from afar.

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createdAt:Fri, 17 Apr 2020 14:32:42 +0000
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