The Power Up talks esports streetwear, Andbox and inclusivity

Our host Narz is bringing you a breakdown of everything happening in the world of gaming, introducing you to rising stars in the industry and special guests every episode in this collab with Complex Networks.

For some, video games are more than just a hobby — they’re also a lifestyle. In this episode of The Power Up, Narz spoke with industry figures about esports streetwear, expanding the definition of “gamer” and gaming brands adopting more inclusive marketing.

Gaming as a fashion statement

Andbox, an esports organization headquartered in New York City, owns the New York Excelsior of the Overwatch League and the New York Subliners of the Call of Duty League. But it’s also earned praise for its top tier merchandising and sleek clothing lines, courtesy of Collette Gangemi and Maxwell Osborne.

Gangemi, VP of Consumer Products and Merchandising at Andbox, came to the company with a fashion background via DC Shoes. She told The Power Up about the potential she saw for gaming-adjacent streetwear.

“There’s a lot of parallels between skateboarding and gaming,” Gangemi said.

Skater clothing has been heavily adopted in streetwear clothing — even by people who don’t skate — for its cozy aesthetic. But for skaters, the clothes also serve a functional purpose, since things like oversized tops keep you cool (or warm) and baggy (or stretchy) pants are comfortable to skate in.

Osborne, Creative Director of Consumer Products at Andbox, worked at DKNY and then started Public School, his own brand which he co-founded with fellow designer Dao-Yi Chow. He told The Power Up that balancing form and function was important when designing Andbox’s streetwear.

1st Camo Hooded Sweartshirt from 1st x Andbox
Credit: Andbox

“If you’re a gamer, how do you move and what makes you become a better athlete?” Osbourne said. “You know, making your sleeves a little slicker if you’re playing on a desktop so you can move with the mouse a little faster. Little things like that we try to find.”

To further cement Andbox’s position as a brand that celebrates New York City, it also retains photographer Brian Alcazar (perhaps best known as “1st”) as an artist-in-residence. Alcazar launched a fashion collaboration with Andbox and has also worked with Rockstar Games.

Game companies ignoring inclusivity are losing out

Finally, Narz spoke with Keisha Howard, founder and CEO of Sugar Gamers. Sugar Gamers is a community group and company that connects brands with underrepresented groups in video games.

Gamers continue to become an increasingly diverse audience. Black players and Latinx players are more likely to describe themselves as “gamers” than white players, according to Pew Research. Unfortunately, many gaming brands still haven’t caught up to this changing landscape.

“Diversity and inclusion efforts, even though it seems like a logical direction to go in, not everybody appreciates that,” Howard said. “Not everybody wants to see women or people of color or LGBTQ represented in their marketing. So brands have to make a decision on where they stand.”

If you liked this story, check out this The Power Up episode on the figures behind the scenes pushing to make video games more diverse.

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