The worlds of fashion and esports keep colliding.
Guild Esports has had several clothing drops designed by Fergus Purcell, G2 Esports has partnered with Ralph Lauren, and Gen.G Esports have sported Puma jerseys. All these collaborations are great. But for me, FaZe Clan’s partnership with Takashi Murakami is the most exciting yet.
Takashi Murakami is a Japanese contemporary artist—one of the most successful in the world, with decades of legendary work. When speaking on the collaboration, Murakami stated: “Some people may think our pairing rather incongruous. But in 30 years’ time, the meaning of this collaboration within art historical context will perhaps be reviewed and reassessed. And so, while I felt a bit shy about doing a collaboration with such young people, I went along with their request, trusting in the freshness of the landscape the future audience will see in this project.”
"While I felt a bit shy about doing a collaboration with such young people, I went along with their request, trusting in the freshness of the landscape."
I’m glad he did. Calling this pairing incongruous isn’t seeing the full picture. This is a dream matchup, and FaZe struck gold. He is more than one of the most innovative and influential artists in recent history. He has a rich involvement in multiple industries that crossover with the esports audience. Although this is Murakami’s first project in esports, there are many signs pointing to his work being gladly welcomed.
Whether it’s memes on Twitter or high-production videos for tournaments, anime is deeply ingrained in esports culture. There’s a reason companies like Riot and Valve have made investments in anime—they know it’s something else their fans are interested in. Young and old alike, where you find esports fans you find anime fans.
With that in mind, it’s easy to bet on Murakami’s style resonating with esports fans. His signature style is what’s known as Superflat, an artistic movement with deep influence drawn from anime and manga. Not only is he part of that movement, he’s the one that’s largely led it. Murakami doesn’t just have an anime-inspired style, he has the anime-inspired style. If FaZe wanted someone to help capture that audience, there’s no one better than Murakami.
But a lot of Murakami’s influence is on something else: hip hop. That’s arguably where most of his notoriety in the western world comes from. His most famous commercial collaborations came with designing album artwork for Kanye West. With brilliant and memorable covers for Graduation and Kids See Ghosts, Murakami is an important figure in the history of hip hop.
Hip hop is another industry boasting huge overlap with esports. With both spaces having an enormous audience of young males, it’s unsurprising that we continue to see these worlds interweave. Esports broadcasts host battle raps and cyphers on one side, and famous hip hop artists keep investing in esports teams on the other.
FaZe is easily one of the leaders in combining esports with hip hop.
The FaZe house is famous for hosting a slew of top rappers for parties and collaborations. At one point they even recruited Lil Yachty to the team. When asked about it, he stated, “Faze Clan is the best gaming group in the world, plus I had been a fan since high school. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?"
Lil Yachty went on to say that esports is "going to the top." He added that "hip hop and gaming will continue to intersect" because artists are getting younger. There's always a need for games and music.
FaZe understands hip hop better than anyone else in esports. Partnering with a hip hop icon like Murakami, they now have the perfect person to continue making inroads with that audience.
There are tons of reasons Murakami’s involvement in esports is exciting. Sometimes though, it’s better to “walk the walk."
Taking one look at this collection, and it’s clear that he did. This wasn’t a low-effort cash grab on his part. The jerseys are gorgeous and encapsulate everything good about his Superflat style. With a reasonable $50-$100 price range on top of that—FaZe should be given a job well done.
Many fans have been understandably skeptical whenever big brands or names enter esports. Too many times it seems they’re only looking for a quick buck. I don’t think that’s the case for Takashi Murakami. He has an excellent foundation to understand what esports fans want, and has already done some wonderful work. Murakami built a career on continually blurring the lines of culture. This time he’s doing it for esports.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.