On the afternoon of November 16th, Sims 4 developers revealed what would become their latest kit - Modern Menswear - to the world. The kit, slated to release December 2nd, quickly became a trending topic on Twitter while catching the eyes of such high fashion publication and pop culture staples like Vogue and Vice.
Why all the to-do about a small, 23-piece fashion kit? By teaming up with fashion icon Stefan Cooke to bring his show-stopping, gender norm-upending knitwear to the Sims, developers are fully engaging with the freshest trend in both gaming, fashion, and beyond - creating the metaverse.
The “metaverse” is a term that easily sounds like parody or even post-apocalyptic, but it loosely refers to the growing blend of what is virtual to what is reality. As the Sims partners with Stefan Cooke, Gucci partners with Xbox, and Balenciaga partners with Fortnite, what is “real” is quickly overlapping into what is “virtual” in our increasingly online and global economy.
Modern Menswear Kit: What to Expect
Modern Menswear features the iconic knits and playful ready-to-wear fashions that often define Stefan Cooke’s signature style. Through 23 fashion pieces, this pack offers players stylish fashions that defy traditionally masculine silhouettes and gender norms. Players can expect bold printed patterns, knitwear with “skirting,” and blouse-like tops.
Why infuse the feminine with the masculine in a modern menswear pack?
What is cutting edge and modern in fashion loudly reflects changing ideas about gender. As the world grapples with what gender means, as people young and old begin questioning and defying gender as a binary, as many people explore the pronouns that most please them and find comfort in the space between gender expectations, as a growing audience begins to upend and break down the patriarchal expectations that are toxic masculinity, fashion responds by offering clothes that live outside of the binary.
What is gender? Why are any of us committed to binding certain silhouettes to a certain group of people in the first place. Stefan Cooke is one of those many designers that throw out tradition and challenge gender expectations in his designs.
Who is Stefan Cooke?
Stefan Cooke is a British fashion designer who is committed to uprooting gender expectations in clothing. Alongside his partner and boyfriend Jake Burt, Cooke creates the high-fashion styles that he was often inspired to make through necessity as a young person. Cooke often waxes about his younger years as a designer. While he longed for luxury looks and textiles, he often had to make do with the looks he found in thrift shops or cobbled from scraps of non-standard materials.
The result was a deconstructed look that often parodied what was deemed “high-fashion” and “masculine.” Cooke created knits entirely from buttons for example. He placed woolen knit patterns on polyester and created boldly printed trousers for men.
When Cooke initially came to the table with The Sims producers, he was, according to Vogue, ready to provide radical high-fashion for the iconic game brand. However, when he realized that Simmers really only want ready-to-wear items, he quickly generated ideas that challenged traditional ideas of “masculinity” while remaining palatable to the larger Sims audience.
Community Reaction and Criticism
Community reaction to this kit was mixed. A growing distaste for kits has boiled in the bellies of dedicated players for many months; the “snackable” downloadable content concept feels dangerously close to the widely-loathed but massively profitable microtransaction of mobile games.
Some Simmers, particularly those who have advocated for more menswear from the Sims team, balked at the idea of marrying what is feminine with what is masculine in a pack for men.
Still others believe that such gender-defying fashions should not be hidden behind a paywall. These Simmers point to some of the most recent packs— Incheon Arrivals and Fashion Street— as evidence that Sims developers are asking their players to pay out for cultural representation. Clothes that allow people outside of the White, cis-gendered crowd to represent themselves better in-game, should be offered to everyone, according to such Simmers like Emma Hart:
What do you think of the next Sims kit? Let us know on Twitter! Happy Simming!