N2: Behind the new frontier in esports fashion
As fashion continues to increase its ever-expanding presence within the world of esports, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the days when pros meandered around stages in clashing baggy jeans, rugged tracksuits and jerseys that didn’t quite fit.
Stylistic taste has matured a lot since then. Still, We Are Nations’s new N2 project looks to push esports and gaming fashion even further.
From jerseys to jumpers, shoes to shirts and everything in-between, fashion has truly penetrated the worlds of gaming and esports. As a discipline involving long periods of sitting, travelling and being on camera, being comfy – and looking good – is a prerequisite for many gamers.
Gaming lifestyle brands have been quick to realise the business potential of merchandising, beyond the classic staple of team jerseys.
We Are Nations, the international esports and gaming apparel company that houses licensed product ranges for teams such as G2 Esports, Immortals, Complexity, Team Queso, FPX and Invictus, are looking to bring esports fashion to a whole new level with the unveiling of N2.
The N2 project is a brand new vehicle — two years in the making — for apparel collections that will see We Are Nations collaborate with top artists and designers to create bespoke, up-market fashion collections that resonate with gaming communities.
In an interview with Esports Insider, Joshua Miller, We Are Nations’s Creative Director, explained: “The impetus behind N2 started three and a half years back when we were trying to expand into different markets, and we knew that in order to do that effectively, the best way to go about it would be to work with collaborators.
“The concept behind N2 was it was a higher-end price point with elevated products, elevated production, working with one to two brand partners — hence the name, N2. We focus mainly on working with an artist or illustrator and either a brand partner or a retail partner, whether that’s online retail or brick and mortar retail or a combination of both.”
We Are Nations has been working to foster associations and synergies with a number of artists and creative talents from around the globe. Searching across a wide spectrum of creative media, the firm has explored both established and up-and-coming artists that resonate with gaming.
N2’s initial launch collaboration is with renowned Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano, whose colourful career spans visual art, character design, illustration, scenic design and costume design.
Known in the gaming universe for his conceptual illustration work for video game franchise Final Fantasy, Amano’s partnership with N2 will see the pair release the Limited Edition ‘Deva Loka’ Collection via NTWRK in the US, Futaroku.GG in Japan and ProjectN2.com globally.
Reflecting on the backstory behind this high-profile collaboration, Miller said: “When we were putting lists of artists together to start contacting, I had [Amano] on there as a dream person.
“I never thought he would work with us, he’s been one of my favourite artists since I was 12 years old so I was just like ‘let me throw it on there and who knows’.
“Turns out he was actually really interested, and the timing ended up working almost perfectly, so the stars kind of aligned. It was perfect for a first release, especially with his history in video games as well as in fine art – it kind of spans everything we were wanting to touch on right from the get go.”
N2 differs distinctly from Nations’s existing product range, which focuses on traditional esports apparel like jerseys, pro kits and essential collections. N2’s collaborations, by contrast, place an emphasis on intimate connections with an artist and their style. “N2 is kind of its own capsule world within our company,” Miller explained.
“We definitely have a lot more focus on higher-end materials because we have higher-end price points, so we have more margin to work with, we have more trend details, more production detailing, more packaging to make it more of a complete presentation for each individual collaboration we do with an artist.”
Eyeing new markets and looking to do something unique in the world of gaming apparel, N2 seeks to blur the boundaries of gaming and the sector’s wider cultural context. Nevertheless, there are definitely esports-related aspects, detailed Miller, but it is less of a blatant expression of that. While tied to gaming culture, the styles in N2 are also designed to reach a wider audience.
“It’s not necessarily a gap in the market, it’s an evolution in the market”, Miller added when weighing in on the relationship between fashion and esports. “For esports mechanising, in general, to evolve more into esports fashion or esports lifestyle apparel makes a whole lot of sense. Especially with the teams, since they’re living in it most of the time.
“It also lends to each team having more and more individuality which is what I’m really excited about – I want to see these teams take their brands and really push them and really start to carve out their own niches to give them more of a personality as a whole brand.”
With high-calibre and rising artists expected to be associated, there looks to be no shortage of personality within N2. Miller wouldn’t reveal any other upcoming collaborations, but guaranteed more were in the works. “It’s been amazing working with Amano and I’m really excited to release everything, and very excited for all of our upcoming releases as well.”
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