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via Instagram (@skinnycleo)

These creatives are turning The Sims into their high fashion playground

Dressing their characters in Marine Serre, Mugler, and Telfar, a community of content creators and ‘Simstagrammers’ are imagining a digital alternative to IRL runway shows and fashion events

From the moment The Sims first hit our computer screens just over 20 years ago, the virtual reality game has held a special place in our hearts. 

From its instantly recognisable soundtrack and the countless ways we tortured our little pixelated people, to memories of loading up the once-modern CD-ROM on our near-broken family desktops, for most, the game is tinged with a sense of nostalgia that immediately takes us back to a very specific time in our lives.

In the two decades since its inception, though, The Sims has come a long way. Like any form of virtual reality, we often use it as a tool to simulate a world we would like to inhabit ourselves. From realising our lifelong ambitions of making it as a famous DJ, to imagining what it would be like to be a wealthy housewife, there are also those using The Sims as a way to express their love of fashion, creating digital versions of fresh from the runway Telfar, Mugler, and Bottega Veneta looks: a far cry from the jeans and t-shirts that were available in the original game.

One of these designers is Olivia, a custom content (CC) creator imagining virtual streetwear pieces. “I started to create Sims content because I couldn’t find clothes that fit my own style,” she explains. “So I thought why not do it myself?” Uploading her looks onto the Instagram page @badddiesims_, Olivia’s pieces include an incredibly well rendered Telfar bag and a Fiorucci bodycon dress, with one I AM GIA look modelled by a digital version of Dazed 100-er MeLoveMeAlot.

Spending up to a week manufacturing looks in painstaking detail is @idsims, another CC creator. Reimagining runway pieces to near perfection, their latest digital interpretation comes in the form of a Mugler look from the label’s SS20 collection, originally worn by Bella Hadid. Along with this, @idsims has also created a Jean Paul Gaultier dress, Bottega Veneta sandals, and a variety of Dior saddle bags, as well as making their own original designs. 

The Sims is an amazing game that allows the creation of a particular world in which I can express myself with no fear of judgments based on standards imposed by society,” @idsims explains. “I decided to start making Sims fashion because I had problems with depression and anxiety. I started playing Sims and then I started studying 3D to create the looks for the styles I love. Idsims is my virtual fashion project that I’ve been building for many years.”

Speaking to other members of the Sims fashion community, @idsims is not alone in their reasoning as to why they turned to the game as a form of expression. “In Brazil fashion is a very exclusive place, especially when you don't live in São Paulo, the ‘capital of fashion’ here,” says fellow Sims fashion creator, Gabriel, who runs the Instagram page @skinnycleo. “I've been doing this since 2018 and I saw Sims as an opportunity to express myself through fashion.”   

Gabriel is part of another Sims fashion community usually referred to as ‘Simstigrammers’. The creator of a Sims model named Cleo, Gabriel is one of many who has imagined her Sim walking in the latest runway shows, gracing the cover of magazines (Dazed included), and wearing a bevvy of designer looks, including pieces by Laquan Smith and Marine Serre

Using Photoshop, Gabriel uploads virtual pictures of her model onto Instagram, on a page perfectly curated to mirror any of those belonging to today's IRL high fashion models. With screenshots of Cleo participating in a Vogue get ready with me Youtube video and posing in a Gucci campaign, Gabriel explains she created this online life to “experience a ‘reality’ that was so far” from her own. “I want to live this dream in The Sims until I can experience it in the real world,” she says. 

 “I want to live this dream in Sims until I can experience it in the real world” – Gabriel (@skinnycleo)

Also embracing other elements of the fashion industry, Simstigrammers not only create looks for their virtual models, but get them to partake in some of fashion’s biggest events. The Tumblr account Voguesims4 designs virtual venues, which can then be downloaded by Sims players. One such venue will be this year’s Met Gala, where Sims players will dress their models to gather in the virtual space on May 4 (the original date of this year’s IRL Met Gala). “Download the venue specially made for this fabulous night!” the account explains on its page. “Dress up your favorite Sims and create amazing storytelling!”

With virtual fashion weeks also taking place, along with casting calls preceding each show, Simstigrammer Indah says she was “honoured” when her Sim Queenie was chosen to walk in a recent presentation. But for Indah, it was her love of The Sims that led to her love of fashion. “My Sim is a model, so I needed to find inspiration,” she says. “I started following some supermodels, magazines, designers or fashion brands and now I love to watch the fashion shows that happen in New York, Paris, London, and Milan.”

The growing and multifaceted nature of The Sims fashion-focused community and its Simstigrammers and content creators shows that, in 2020, fashion isn’t only open to those in the industry’s inner circle. Instead, these creatives are showing the various ways in which it is possible to engage with and participate in fashion regardless of its actual accessibility. 

With the current fashion landscape currently feeling like it could be on the verge of a seismic shift, the world of Sims fashion doesn’t seem that far off from the IRL future we may be facing. As fashion shows are cancelled and the idea of virtual fashion weeks possibly becoming the new normal in the not-so-distant future, the industry may soon not look all that different from its Sims representation. Watch this space.