kaws holiday fuji feature Hershel Supply

Thought the Balenciaga collab would be Fortnite‘s biggest-ever coup? Apparently, it wasn’t even the game’s most important collaboration of 2021 because Fortnite is forging a new partnership with KAWS.

There’s really not much known about the collaboration so far so it’s too early to say whether or not this is a substantial joint effort or a one-off quickie but, if there’s anything we’ve learned from Fortnite‘s previous artist collabs, this ought to be a pretty involved affair.

For now, all that’s clear is that KAWS is definitely doing something with Epic Games’ signature battle royale shooter, as confirmed by a post on the artists’ Instagram page.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CU8MxS8FC65/

Though Fortnite‘s Balenciaga collab was nothing if not divisive, its path was laid by crossovers like Gucci x Roblox, Louis Vuitton x League of Legends and similar tie-ups.

That is to say, luxury fashion and Esports no longer worlds apart.

Indeed, as Highsnobiety has explored in great detail, the digital worlds of games like Fortnite are the next great frontier for these kinds of companies to conquer.

The KAWS collaboration is a new wrinkle in the equation, as it’s the first time that a high-profile artist has joined up with Fortnite.

It’s not like anyone was clamoring for it — a lot of KAWS fans are actually reacting pretty despondently on the artist’s Instagram post — but it’s here and, honestly, it makes pretty solid sense.

At this point in his career, especially, KAWS is less artist than collaborative machine. From affordable UNIQLO T-shirts to perfume to boxes of Reeses Puffs, KAWS has co-signed it all.

Can anyone really accuse him of selling out with this Fortnite affair?

I mean, not only is much of his fame predicated on collectible toys but many of KAWS’ famous works either imagine said toys as giant sculptures or repurpose (I use that term loosely) animated characters like Spongebob, The Simpsons, and Snoopy from Peanuts — not exactly high-brow stuff.

Neither is Fortnite, to be fair.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, KAWS x Fortnite really is the perfect crossover: mass-market artist + mass-market video game = big bucks. Plus, nearly all of the demographic that plays Fortnite is likely well-versed in the cartoons used as fodder for KAWS’ output.

What to expect from this Fortnite venture? I wouldn’t expect a concert, despite KAWS’ many musician fans, but think augmented reality and definitely think merch.

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