Live action role playing games (aka LARPs) have been going on since the 1970s. A group’s immersion into the blending of fantasy and reality can be relatively simple or incredibly elaborate, and every shade in between. Some players go all out and might be painted in blue body paint from head to toe and wear a beast’s head and tail. Others may don armor impressive enough to do King Arthur proud. Yet no matter how extensive, LARPs were still mostly considered a form of entertainment for gamers and fantasy / sci-fi lovers on the fringe. Yet now, more and more, LARPs are starting to look like big business.
Which brings us to this fashion question: Which came first, the LARPER or the shoes? If you take a look at retailers, both online and on the streets, there is a distinct flair for the dramatic being seen. Take the medieval suede knee-high boots going around; whether brown, black or red – they would be perfect to wear when mock-fighting dragons and trolls. Peasant blouses and skirts have always come and gone but now you’ll easily find knit and wool village caps to complete the ensemble. Where once a Live Action Role Player would need to make their costumes or hunt through different specialty stores, it’s starting to seem as if their fringe style is actually becoming the norm.
Victorian styles are also in full swing again. From long tiered dresses with fitted bodices to extensive lace and beadwork, everything old is new again. But is it thanks in part to the countless role players out there? Or is that mere coincidence?
What about the fetish wear that’s no longer being strictly reserved for the dungeons? From platform vinyl boots to capes and leather harnesses – all are being incorporated into Ready-to-wear. Granted, sexual role-playing is not normally attributed to LARPs but again it’s the fringe being brought into the fold and it’s incredibly intriguing to see the patterns arise. Sure, fashion in itself is about playing on fantasy and dreams, but it’s also about tapping into what sells and also telling the buying public what they simply can’t live without.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to find that it’s actually those proactive gamers who are directly affecting the course of this fashion tide? For those who have always felt different and possibly unaccepted, finding other LARPERs must be like finding one’s tribe. They’d probably have little in common with fashion’s elite. But via the runways, the bookshelves and even cinema it’s apparent that several people are listening.
And who knows, maybe a non-LARPER’s love for the clothes will help them do a bit of research, get into it themselves, thereby finding a tribe of their very own.
Whichever came first, the LARPER or the shoe – the constant interweaving of fantasy and reality in fashion never fails to disappoint. And if it’s the “outcasts” that are secretly calling the fashion shots? All the better.