Fortnite. Digital communities. A new way of consuming fashion

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

A lot has been said over the last years regarding Millenials and their impact in fashion industry. And Generation Z (those born from 1995 to 2009), has been left apart probably because they had not much to say until now as they don’t come to age until 2020’s. But there is no doubt that Gen Z’s will be at the center of the stage in the next years and it’s 100% clear their consumption habits will not be the same as their predecessors.

Gen Z’s in the digital world

Gen Zers are the first generation born digital. That is, they are connected to social media from birth. Some reports say they are connected up to 90% of their free time and they are not staying on the same social media platform for hours. Instead of that, they use each platform for a given purpose.

Gen Zers feel so comfortable with the digital world that they are building online communities and experiment with their online identities. The concept of “Digital Third Places” – the places were Gen Z’s socialize when they aren’t at home or at school – are proliferating. And their foundations have nothing to do with current “legacy” social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. And Fortnite is probably their flagship.

Fortnite was 2018’s most important social network

Launched in 2017, Fortnite is inspired in the Japanese novel Battle Royale or the more recent The Hunger Games: the most popular feature gathers 100 players in an island to play one against the another and fight until only one remains.

The secret for success is that Fortnite has improved the legacy Battle Royale formula by making it less technical, more accessible and, above all, more fun. With more than 250 million active users, Fortnite is rewriting the idea of what hanging out online can be. Fortnite is not something ever seen before. It goes further beyond what an online game is. As a matter of fact for those who are not into this phenomenon, last February 2nd Fortnite had its best event day ever with 10.7 million players showing up for a Marshmello concert.

New York’s Brian Feldman described Fortnite as “a candy-colored video game populated by friends and celebrities, with quantified metrics for success tucked into every corner, constantly updated, highly social, usable anywhere, dopamine-releasing, and extremely competitive. In other words, the way to think about Fortnite isn’t Halo, but Instagram. Not Call of Duty, but Snapchat. What’s the difference between racking up kills and racking up likes?”. Difficult to find a better definition of it…

Skins as a symbol of status

Within the game, players can only buy items related to improving the avatar look: the skins. And players are obsessed with them. The more the skin’s rarity the more the symbol of skills, experience and status. Players with rare skins often get compliments from other gamers. As stated before: what’s really worth in the Fortnite community? Kills or likes or both?

And this passion for skins has proven to be profitable. Fortnite, in just a few months, has become the most financially successful free-to-play game ever. Epic Games, the creator of the game reported $3bn profit in 2018.

Nike’s Jordan: the pioneer

Fortnite has already been collaborating with different partners to offer somehow limited edition skins. In summer 2018, it introduced football skins during the World Cup. Later on, in the fall of 2018, NFL skins were released. By the end of 2018 and during 2019, Fortnite partnered with Marvel to promote Avengers Infinity War and Endgame, with specific play modes and access to Avengers weapons. Latest collaboration to promote a movie and release skins was with Keanu Reeves’ John Wick last May, where the assassin’s gear was available at the item shop.

Last week of May Fortnite teamed with Nike’s Jordan to bring licensed products, skins and new game modes to the platform. Nike is then the first fashion brand to get into this new world.

Even though one month after the release of the Fortnite x Jordan crossover there are no official reports to evaluate the success of the collaboration, it seems that it will be beneficial for both sides as, from Nike’s side, it will get instant access to +250 million potential consumers and, from Fortnite’s side, the partnership will help keeping or increasing the appeal for the game.

Fashion in digital communities: A true opportunity for brands

Gen Zers are so absorbed living digital (but real) lives, where self-expression through appearance has revealed to be really important, that it would make sense for fashion brands to explore opportunities to create digital versions of their offerings.

Nike’s Jordan x Fortnite may be only the first example of finding new ways to reach and increase conversion among Gen Zers. And it has not much to do with Fortnite but with the way this new generation interacts with the context, which is 100% real but not exclusively offline or physical anymore. It seems that the concept of digital fashion needs to be reviewed. Let’s ask Gen Zers to define it.

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