Inside Elden Ring’s cultish fashion-forward community

Elden Ring, the hit new video game from Japanese studio From Software, is unapologetically hostile. Aside from a smattering of eccentric non-playable characters, it’s you versus an entire realm of looming, lurching, and lunging nightmare fuel. For all its rich fantasy imagery, with lore provided by none other than Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, Elden Ring is also deeply mathematical. It’s a world that functions according to base stats and attribute points, attack power and damage negation. You’ll want to gain whatever numerical advantage you can, including through clothing – a crucial line of defence in this frequently masochistic-feeling game.

Despite the statistical benefit granted by chest armour, capes, gauntlets, helmets, and greaves, a cultish community clustered around subreddits EldenBling and FashionSouls is foregoing their practical effects to focus purely on drip. The real world of fashion might have veered towards utilitarian trends such as tracksuits and hiking boots in recent years, but these players do not care for such trivialities. Why? During Elden Ring’s epic third-person romp, you’ll spend tens if not hundreds of hours staring at your avatar as you explore the jaw-dropping open world referred to as the Lands Between. As you engage in the game’s notoriously challenging combat, you’ll swivel the camera in such a way that you become intimately familiar with nearly every in-game inch of your outfit. This character is an extension and expression of yourself; the worst thing they can become is an eyesore. 

u/giga-plum

The idea that ostensibly frivolous “dress-up” is being prioritised in a game as serious-minded as Elden Ring will be anathema to some gamers. For others, the outfits always needed to be on point. Since April 2014, FashionSouls has acted as a hub for sartorially-conscious players of From Software’s Dark Souls series of fantasy games. “It was originally a running joke on the Dark Souls subreddit,” explains Jordan Hodder, a longstanding FashionSouls moderator. “When somebody started dwelling a little too much on fashion, people would comment ‘fashion souls’, kind of implying, ‘Are you playing Dark Souls or are you playing Fashion Souls?’”

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