Stefan Cooke has designed your Sims’ new wardrobe
London designer Stefan Cooke and his partner Jake Burt are redefining what menswear means within the world of 'The Sims 4'.
Ever since the original game was released in 2000, The Sims has always been a space for creative self-expression and exploration. You’d likely make a Sim of yourself and dress digital you in an outfit that showcased who you are or who you want to be, as much as the in-game wardrobe allowed anyway. You’d make your friends and their fits, your enemies in the worst looks imaginable and your stunning best-dressed dream boy who you’d begin an intense whirlwind love affair with before leaving him heartbroken for the new Harry Styles replica Sim you made.
The possibilities in this simulation video game are almost endless, but if like myself, you often found yourself being more excited by the womenswear designs than the outfit options for your male Sims, you’re in for a treat. Game developers Electronic Arts have joined forces with the British Fashion Council and design partners Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt to refresh The Sims’ sartorial offerings.
The London-based pair behind the brand Stefan Cooke have taken their usual vision — known for breaking style boundaries and redefining what menswear means IRL — into the virtual world. Called The Sims 4 Modern Menswear Kit, 23 pieces from the pair's recent collections have been recreated: from the iconic wool varsity coat and skirt, to the brown flower-print sweater with the upper chest slit. Even the quilt-style sunny yellow slasher jumper has been digitalised!
Interestingly, when speaking to i-D about their AW21 collection in March, the pair shared how they were inspired by how their teen selves used clothes “to become the most severe, extreme version” of themselves — even if they look back on it less favourably now. “I think there was something really amazing about that commitment to how we wanted to look,” Stefan said. Now, by taking their clothes into The Sims universe, a generation of teenagers will use their designs and clothing to explore heightened versions of their own style and express themselves in new ways they’d never even thought of before.
We spoke to Stefan and Jake about why they loved playing The Sims, turning real life collections into digital garments and what it means for fashion to enter the metaverse.
Did you play The Sims growing up?
We did! Especially after school at friends’ houses. Pretty much everyone has spent some time playing The Sims, or at least knows what it is. That’s why we were drawn to this collaboration -- The Sims is an institution, and as one of the best selling video game franchises ever, it’s exciting to be a part of its history.
Did the game ever inspire or influence your own creativity?
Not necessarily for us, but it did for a lot of people. What The Sims offers did resonate with us though. It gives people options to express their identity, as we [similarly] hope our clothing gives people options to express themselves.
How did the collaboration come about and what made you want to do it?
EA reached out to us because they saw something in our work that would resonate with their players who were asking for broader menswear options. It was the opportunity to explore fashion digitally in the most fashionable way that made us want to do it, and also The Sims’ impact on popular culture.
How did you translate the fits from IRL garments to digital ones?
That was our favourite part of the process and working with a team that has over 20 years of game design experience was incredible. The level of craft that went into creating the pieces amazed us. Although craft is at the heart of our brand, we didn't really associate it with game design, but a team of people [digitally] hand-painting textures to match IRL fabric textures is really impressive!
The Sims is known to offer a wide range of personal styles and ways of expressing yourself. Did that play into your designs?
It made us balance the range. If you’re offering a slashed jumper then you also need to offer a really easy to style pair of trousers. The Sims offers such a wide range of styles because it caters to everyone. No one is excluded.
As the metaverse becomes tech's next big frontier, do you think it will be something fashion will explore more and more?
Definitely, and it’s why this project is so interesting. We are tactile people and our only real digital output is imagery, but this project has definitely changed our mind about how fashion and digital technology can work together.
Does the concept of menswear change when it goes from real life to the metaverse?
This was a conversation we had with The Sims team when we were deciding on the pieces. At first, we were sure they would just want showpieces or the most extravagant options for their players, but actually, it was a real balance. People treat their virtual selves as an extension on their physical selves and often want to dress similarly to how they would IRL. This connection between people and their online selves is something really interesting to explore.
What outfit from the collection would your Sim wear?
The flower jumper from AW20 because it looks just as good virtually as it does in real life.