On November 5th, British luxury clothing giant BURBERRY released their Minecraft capsule collection. Highlights include BURBERRY’s trademark tartan-check scarf patterned with yellow Minecraft flowers and the company’s name in the signature Minecraft font; a plain-black sweater adorned with the eyes and mouth of a Creeper; and a beige trench coat with an 8-bit letter “B” (for BURBERRY) printed on the back—$550, $910, and $2,990, respectively. In a promotional video, models wearing these overpriced clothes stroll through Minecraft biomes, their sleek, elegant bodies out of place in a world of blocks. The pixelated grass is their runway. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the incredible sight.
Who exactly is this line of clothing made for? Considering Minecraft’s fanbase of pre-teens and smelly young adults who need to touch grass, why is a $550 Minecraft-inspired scarf *sold out* when inflation has made basic necessities feel like luxuries?
The answer? BURBERRY’s capsule collection capitalizes on the nostalgia of the original Minecraft gamers: post-millenials for whom voxel worlds were integral to early adolescence. But while the promotional videos of *actual people* walking in Minecraft biomes brings novel meme-worthiness to luxury fashion, the collection fails to deliver. Despite the Creeper faces, pixelated flowers, and blocky fonts, none of the pieces really capture the spirit of Minecraft. There are no interesting creative risks taken; no serious design changes in the name of this universal childhood experience. Minecraft becomes nothing but the aesthetic ore for BURBERRY to mine profit from.
But there is a BURBERRY x Minecraft experience that most of us can afford. Available on the Minecraft marketplace, Burberry: Freedom to Go Beyond features free downloadable content (DLC), offering new game experiences and BURBERRY-style skins, tartan-check and all!
Poggers! Just like rich people, Minecraft players too can be dripped out in BURBERRY on their next playthrough. But luxury fashion is fundamentally antithetical to the original premise of Minecraft. This is a game where creativity runs wild, where people can build mansions, cities of gold, kingdoms, racecars, mob battle arenas, and interdimensional subways from scratch. In Minecraft, blocks float, punching wood is the first thing you do, and four iron blocks and a pumpkin creates a golem. The devil isn’t who’s waiting for you in Minecraft Hell—it’s man-sized pigs with swords and sad, slim-thick ghosts. Players can appear as anything—“medieval guy,” “Notch,” “elf,” “unicorn,” “naked person,” “walking plant,” “Enderman,” “Jungkook from BTS,” “[insert your favorite Minecraft YouTuber here],” “anime girl,” literal “fire and water”—so long as it is renderable in the shape of the default character, Steve. Minecraft allows self-expression in ways not possible in real life.
Overpriced clothing is unsuited to a world of free, open-source self-presentation: even before this collaboration, skins designed after luxury brands were already downloadable online. The real effects of the new BURBERRY skins are miniscule. So why bring “luxury” to a game where the limits of money were never an issue?
The Minecraft you once knew is dead, and a $2,990 trench coat has killed it. Gone are days of survival mode playthroughs with your best friends on a clumsily launched LAN server; of listening to Fallen Kingdom and “Creeper, aw man…” on somber Sunday nights in grade school; of binge-watching PewDiePie and CaptainSparklez. Minecraft is no longer defined by the youthful imagination or subversive gamer culture which was once essential to its being. The voxel video game is now a $1.7 billion market success. Over a decade after its inception, Minecraft’s triumph in the hypercapitalist market is made clear by its permanence in meme culture and presence on the sleeves of BURBERRY sweaters. And God it makes me feel fucking old.