Extra life: retro video game references are all over fashion

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Extra life: retro video game references are all over fashion” was written by Priya Elan, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 10th August 2016 12.31 UTC

While upscale grunge – the trend for current pop stars to wear old band T-shirts – shows no sign of stopping, and neither does the use of Gothic fonts that has been the mainstay of 2016’s merchandise and fashion confluence (from Vetements to The Life Of Pablo and beyond), the cyclical nature of fashion means things move on quickly to a new craze.

The next one bubbling up is the use of retro computer game references. If old techhas become fetishised (think of Adele’s flip phone in Hello and labels like Pear Shaped using old Nokia imagery), it makes sense that old computer games would come into play. If Pokémon Go has taught us anything, it’s that style travels quickly from the console to the catwalk.

Anya Hindmarch’s AW16 collection used Pac-Man as the block-y influence on her collection. The rainbow palette, building block aesthetic and cutesy elements (Pac-Man Ghost featured on a backpack later be worn by Karlie Kloss), may have been too kitsch for some but was daringly analogue in the 24-7 age of information overload. It wasn’t a great leap for the designer who had co-opted everyday logos (Boots the chemist, Ship matches, KitKats) but also set the tone for the next wave of graphic influences on fashion and had elements in common with Tetris’s own fashion line.

Anya Hindmarch AW16.
Anya Hindmarch AW16. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Retro computer games have been seeping into the fashion consciousness for a while now. Moschino collaborated with Super Mario Bros for a capsule collection, and Sonic The Hedgehog remains a fashion icon for those who experiment with grey blue hair. Meanwhile, the casting of the Final Fantasy character Lady Lightning for Louis Vuitton’s SS16 virtual team-up with Japanese video game developer Square Enix felt uncannily futuristic but also comfortingly backward-looking.

There are hints that musical tastemakers are turning away from the vintage rock tee, last week Drake’s touring mate Future had his own pop-up shop and was selling Doom-homaged T-shirts, while at the Billboard Music Awards rehearsals, Justin Bieber was photographed wearing a Mortal Kombat T-shirt.

“Going analogue” has been in the air since normcore and dad-dressing started to trend, while shows like Stranger Things, and Instagrams like Interiorsofmurdershewrote suggest there’s an massive cultural appetite for putting the pause button on modernity and basking in the comfort of looking back.

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