FromSoftware’s 2022 action role-playing game Elden Ring is aesthetically decadent, resplendent in its towering, but tumbling castles and suits of elaborate metal armor, leather, and dyed fabric. In its debut collection “The Lands Between,” a collaboration with FromSoftware, luxury brand ARK/8 presumably sought to honor that. In reality, the London and Tokyo-based brand made a bunch of well-shaped sweatshirts, but in the gaudy world of video game merch, that can be enough for now.
ARK/8, which launched a Destiny collaboration in 2020, said in an October 17 mission statement on its website that its goal is to “embrace the limitless possibilities of gaming,” it says. “Video games have the power to transport us, allowing us to become the heroes of our own stories. With each [clothing] drop, we aim to craft experiences that encapsulate the spirit of adventure, discovery, and creativity, becoming a real-life extension of the digital realm.” Kotaku reached out for comment.
Speaking to NME, creative director Dimitri van Eetvelde (who counts himself as a FromSoftware fan since Demon’s Souls in 2009) said, in ARK/8’s most recent collection, “We don’t want to cater only to hardcore [gaming] fans.”
“We really want more of the mainstream to think ‘Oh, I love that jacket’—the Elden Ring Jacket, for example, they could totally love it from a visual standpoint and buy it without realizing it’s an Elden Ring piece,” he continued. He thinks streetwear is particularly suited to this kind of wide-appeal design because it’s “always been good for graphics and that drop model.”
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An Elden Ring fashion collection makes sense
It feels natural for a modern fashion brand to engulf video games into its identity like ARK/8 is trying to. In the past few years, the two highly lucrative industries with (generally speaking) radically different clientele have realized the big benefits of teaming up, resulting in Burberry’s physical and digital Minecraft collection in 2022, and Diablo-inspired clothing at this year’s fall/winter Milan Fashion Week, and more sales across the board. Recent fashion collaborations have also pushed forward what you might think of as synonymous with “gaming-related clothing,” the types of inflexible Pokémon screenprints and plasticky Overwatch jackets that unfortunately continue to dominate licensed product lines.
In this way, it’s unsurprising that the 2022 Game of the Year would have a dedicated streetwear line. At this point in fashion history, why wouldn’t it?
I only wish that ARK/8’s collection—nine pieces of clothing, mostly lounge and outerwear—reflected Elden Ring’s corrupted opulence better, though its site doesn’t specify the extent or specifics of its FromSoftware “collaboration.” The brand approaches it in moments, like in its $1,735 rust brown faux fur coat lined with a Lands Between map print on semi-synthetic fabric Cupro, evoking the heavy shadow of the lion hanging across boss Hoarah Loux’s shoulders. But, with the knowledge that, in 2018, the fashion industry created 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas, I can’t justify a tattered $245 black cotton hoodie that says “TARNISHED” on it. Or a $370 white cotton shirtdress with a Redbubble-type print of a Queen Marika statue on the back.
The $1,090 Lands Between map polyamide bomber jacket, at least, has a flattering, cropped and boxy silhouette, but I’m disappointed that the map print’s position seems ill-thought—the faded beige banner in the top left of the map is cut off by the zipper.
But I can accept a small win. I’m glad that none of this stuff says some variation of “KEEP CALM and CRIMSON TEARS ON.” Still, I won’t apologize for wishing for a $1,000 made-to-order, deadstock silk Fia’s robe recreation instead. ARK/8 mentions some fabric information on its website, but at its price point, I’d like to see it and other gaming collaborators follow eco-minded labels promoting radical transparency in providing breakdowns of their working conditions and material sourcing. These are the, combined, multi-trillion dollar fashion and gaming industries we’re talking about—they can afford it.
ARK/8’s Elden Ring collection is currently available for purchase on its website, with certain items eligible only for pre-order and November shipping.