I’m a 20-something, male-presenting American who loves video games. And I sure dress like it. Every morning, I grab a graphic tee from my t-shirt drawer and construct the day’s uniform. I’m basically a cartoon character, wearing the same combination of articles over and over because it’s just easier (and cheaper) to draw me that way. This has probably been true of me since… oh god, middle school? Maybe middle school.
Except, very recently, like within the last five years, I’ve started to discover that – get this – other clothes can look good on me. Not only that, but dressing like someone who is not perpetually 13 years old feels nice! Somewhere in your twenties, you start seeing clothes differently. You’ll be out at a store, and something inside of you will say, “huh. That looks nice.” You try it on, and it does look nice, on you, and you look nice in it. And from there, the hunt is on. And you may even develop…a Look.
Yes, yours truly has fully embraced fashion, in the way a 20-something, male-presenting American who loves video games does: by wearing some Other Things… Sometimes.
So this jacket.
In 2019, video game development studio ZA/UM released its smash hit RPG, Disco Elysium. It made the rounds through the games media, racking up top marks, eliciting lots of words, and taking home lots of awards. It even won game of the year at Geoff Keighley’s The Game Awards, which I found surprising since it seemed like such a weird, niche game, and The Game Awards are the closest thing video game culture has to being “normie.” I thought to myself, “I should play that!”
Smash cut to 2021. I’m sitting on the couch eating breakfast with my girlfriend, both of us scrolling Twitter. A photo crosses my timeline. I can no longer find the tweet containing the photo that first announced to me the existence of this jacket. So instead, here’s another photo of it on the model from the Atelier ZA/UM website:
A flurry of thoughts and feelings flooded my brain. “Oh shit,” I thought, “that’s a nice jacket. That’s a really nice jacket. And I think it’s my style. And I think it might look good on me?”
That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
As I found out from the next fifteen intense minutes of googling, the jacket was part of a limited run release of replica clothing from the 2019 game Disco Elysium by studio ZA/UM. The orange version that I continually find myself lusting over (they also sell one in black) is apparently something called “Kim’s Aerostatic Pilot Jacket.” I have no idea what that means because – and here we go – I still have not played Disco Elysium.
Aside from that one very big and very obvious reason not to buy this jacket, even though it looks very nice and would probably look very nice on me and you know what fuck the idea that I need to know what this jacket even means in the context of the game it’s just a really nice piece of clothing…
If you check the store’s listing, you’ll find – well, actually you won’t find the price on the store because it’s always out of stock. They put them up in batches of like 15 every once in a while, maybe something like twice a year, so you’ll never see the price on the site itself, you have to google around for that information as well. But if you do said googling around, you will eventually find that the asking price for this beautiful jacket is 400EUR. The conversion rate from Euros to US Dollars puts the price (at time of publication) around $464.43 American. That’s a lot of scratch. That’s not even including tax and shipping. That’s going to be a $500 jacket at the very least. I can’t buy a $500 jacket. It costs $500.
But of course it does. Each one is individually hand sewn by literally a single seamstress in Estonia. By all accounts, she does incredible work. I hope she’s living extraordinarily well. Look at how thick and soft the ribbing on the neck, sleeves, and waist looks. Look at the stitching on the interior of the jacket, in that gorgeous navy blue color that perfectly complements the orange.
These aren’t even featured on the store website itself, I had to go to Reddit for these, but look at the attention paid to in-game details in the white patches that reveal some kind of logo and a map of the game world under light. Having played the game or not, I can appreciate me some attention to detail.
But no. I should not buy this jacket. I am unemployed and living in Brooklyn, NY. I need that money for rent and food and clothes with pictures of Sonic the Hedgehog on them. I can’t wear this expensive, high-class jacket that costs more than a month of groceries. It comes from a store that uses the word ‘atelier’ for Christ’s sake.
How could I ever walk out of my house wearing that jacket and not either feel like or become the world’s biggest asshole? What would I do if it got dirty? What if the second I stroll out of my apartment building with my brand new $500 video game jacket, a pigeon shits itself to death right on top of me, right there on the sidewalk? What then?
Would I feel anything other than a sense that I’d gotten exactly what I deserved? Would that only be because I grew up in an Irish/Italian Catholic family? Would I have to spend the next eight to ten months of my life picking up the pieces of the person I thought I used to be? Or would I just get it dry cleaned?
Worse than any of that, I can’t try the thing on, what if I got the wrong size? What if it didn’t fit quite right? What if I just didn’t like it? What if I never wore it, and it forever hung in my closet, doing nothing but having cost $500.
What if I finally play the game and I don’t like it? Or worse, what if I think it’s just fine? What if I specifically hate the character who wears this jacket (doesn’t seem likely, a lot of people online seem to love him)? What if I got the jacket having never played the game, and then someone on the street recognized what I was wearing and started talking to me about how great this game I have never played is?
No. This is about more – much more – than not being able to afford the jacket. I am not ready for a jacket of this magnitude. Maybe one day I will be. And maybe they’ll still be making it then. But until that day, I should not buy this jacket.