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Animal Crossing runway
Valentino-inspired lookPhotography Kara Chung

Going behind-the-scenes of Animal Crossing’s first-ever fashion show

Featuring Loewe, Prada, GmBH, and Michel Gaubert on the decks

It’s official: Animal Crossing has gone fashion. The Nintendo simulation game has already become a creative outlet for many in these weird, isolated times, from high fashion bootleg fits à la Raf Simons and Rick Owens to actual Marc Jacobs attire and virtual ‘Fuck Boris’ T-shirts courtesy of Sports Banger. We thought we’d seen it all, until now.

Last week, Berlin-based fashion organisation Reference Studios put on the world’s first-ever fashion show on Animal Crossing as part of its second edition of Reference Festival, which saw a host of New Horizons avatars strut down a virtual runway in looks inspired by Loewe, Prada, and GmBH. Organising the show was photographer Kara Chung, who runs the Instagram account @animalcrossingfashionarchive, and stylist Marc Goehring of 032C.

“We met through a mutual friend, curator Evan Garza, who featured us on an Art Forum piece about Animal Crossing,” Chung and Goehring told us over email. “At the time, we were both indoors due to the current events and spending our time presenting real-world images in-game.”

The result is a three-minute runway, which TBH isn’t that different to an IRL fashion show, with models also sporting Craig Green, Paco Rabanne, and Chanel outfits. The only real difference was the front row, which instead of the usual crowd, was composed of anthropomorphic cats, foxes, and birds.

For Goehring, choosing what looks to include wasn’t much different to styling an IRL shoot. “I went through my favourite collections of the season and picked the looks, kind of like I would approach an editorial shoot,” he explained. “IRL you’d have to wait and see if your selection is available. In the case of AC, the question is much more if it’s actually possible to translate that specific look to something that’s recognisable in the game, through the ‘design function’ only.”

Chung added: “The pieces that translate the best have vivid patterns and illustrations. Of course you're super limited, and the greatest challenge lies in picking the characteristics of each item that make it unique and actually recognisable.”

Just like any reputable fashion event, sound aficionado Michel Gaubert was in charge of the music, even making an virtual appearance behind the decks in avatar form. “Marc Goehring and I have a few obsessions in common and we wanted to share our Animal Crossing fetish,” Gaubert said. “When working on the script it became obvious that the music had to be very upbeat, slightly subversive and fun, to bring the show to life as it was all about having a good time.”

“My friends at @italiansdoitbetter sent me the track E.T by Joon @joon.songs and as I listened to it for the first time, it felt like it had all the right ingredients to make the show come to life,” he explained. “Animal Crossing as a game is an imitation of life and it was very important that the show also felt that way. People are talking about the future of fashion shows in bleak terms. We wanted to show that fashion can also be fun, positive, and inclusive.”

Last year, Reference Festival hosted its very own 24-hour event that merged the worlds of art, fashion, and technology. Speaking to Dazed, studio founder Mumi Haiati said: “Thinking outside of the box has become an absolute requirement. I do believe that video games are an important part of the future of presenting fashion, with the aspect of community playing a major role.”

“Quarantine has proven to us our longing for expression and company – it makes us understand the different layers of reality and comes with the reassuring side effect that shows us, we actually can be who we want to without restrictions.”

Watch the Animal Crossing fashion show above.