Last month’s much-talked-about BioWare fashion show at PAX Prime impressed gamers with stylish runway looks inspired by the Mass Effect and Dragon Age video games. One of the first to focus solely on gamer culture, the show generated considerable buzz, and some of the much sought-after items that walked the runway at PAX are already available in the BioWare online store.
Over the last decade geek culture has taken over the culture at large, and the nerdiness remains on-trend today: just this week Gucci earned rave reviews for their “Geek Chic” inspired Spring 2016 collection.
It’s only in the last few years that fashion-forward, fandom-influenced clothing options marketed directly to geeks have emerged, but the response has been huge. Geek fashion shows are now a part of nearly every major nerd culture convention from San Diego to New York.
In our exclusive interview with ThinkGeek Solutions [TGS] Art Director Alice Bolte, and VP of Marketing for ThinkGeek Soultions Todd Lido, we’ve got the details on how the line came together, when more of the looks featured at PAX will become available, and what character inspirations you won’t see coming down the runway anytime soon.
How did you choose which games and characters the design team based their designs on? Was it purely consumer demand?
Alice Bolte: We chose the games and most of the characters based on consumer demand. We pitched our ideas to our partner [BioWare]. Since we are a company of gamers and fans, designing for fans… we pitch the characters. BioWare and TGS have always been on the same page with games and characters.
What was your role in the production of the line and how did your background in game design inform the way you planned the looks?
Bolte: My role was basically to be the liaison between the studios, our buyer, our production designer, and the fashion designers, as well as give direction. My background is rooted in a hard study of visual communication and design as well as experience in game design and being a gamer myself… helped me make decisions on design aesthetics as well as direction on the demographic.
How long did the line take to create and were there any challenges to making the pieces?
Bolte: About a year. In our process, we account for revision after each step, including internal reviews and partner reviews from the CAD (computer-aided design) and sample stage. Of course, this was our first time as a company doing a whole women’s line! So there were challenges like tweaking the fit after a sample review and changing art that when worn looked different than the concept. We pushed ourselves because we really wanted to get everything right. Every single person on our team worked passionately to produce what was seen at PAX.
One of the stand-out things about the line is the variety of looks offered: casual leggings and hoodies to dresses and even activewear. Was this diversity planned from the start?
Bolte: The diversity was planned from the start. We wanted a variety for women, since we women gamers have been starving for awesome apparel in the genre and because designing for women’s lines requires variety. The diversity was also chosen based on the character. We wanted the line to be cohesive around the theme. Together as a team, we weighed in on what coordinated best and what should be added at the start and also upon review of the samples.
Not all the looks seen on the runway at PAX Prime, like the Kaidan Hoodie and the N7 Cowl Coat, are currently available in the online store. Will all the looks seen on the runway eventually go on sale?
Lido: We don’t have specific dates to share just yet but we are planning two more launches this year adding to the women’s apparel line. Expect to see more items from the fashion show available in October and the rest in November.
Can fans expect old favorites like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, or other older franchises to show up in future collections?
Bolte: My heart just melted at those names. Baldur’s Gate has an incredibly special place in my heart [as well as] Forgotten Realms. “Go for the eyes Boo, go for the eyes!” While I cannot comment much on future collections, I can say that we are focused on the current games... what we have in the works is extremely exciting. We are pushing boundaries we have never pushed before in women’s and also men’s fashions.
The Mary Sue reported that the company is working to meet demand for plus-size versions of the line in response to Twitter feedback. Might you go one step further and hold a vote on a fan-favorite game or character to base a future design on?
Bolte: We love getting direct feedback from the community. It was one of the things that really made the show! Holding a vote on a fan favorite game or character to base a future design on is a great idea. Again, these lines are designed for fans and their feedback has always been important to us.
G&S: Will there be more BioWare fashion shows in the future? With the success of the recent PAX show, fan demand seems to support something like a geek fashion-week event with runway shows from other geek women’s labels like Her Universe and We Love Fine.
Lido: We certainly hope we can do more fashion shows in the future. It was a terrific experience for us, our partners at BioWare and hopefully for all who attended. While I can’t speak for all involved, I could easily see it becoming an annual event. And it would be wonderful to either participate in or help organize a larger event including other brands. It would help elevate our common goal with women’s apparel and the role we see it playing in geek and gaming culture.
Photo credit: BioWare
Correction: This article originally stated that Ms. Bolte worked for BioWare, which is incorrect. Ms. Bolte is the Art Director for ThinkGeek Solutions, where Mr. Lido also works.