Fashion-Forward: JRPGs

Cutting edge design is a key factor in nearly all JRPGs. And remember, every dungeon crawl’s a runway!

By Adam Sorice. Posted 09/16/2010 15:00 5 Comments     ShareThis

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Okay, I’m not gonna lie. When I found out that this week was going to be JRPG week, my heart sank. The things I know about the genre could be written on one side of a napkin. And not even a fancy one that you could potentially turn into a swan or some other creation of fabric origami. I was up a certain creek without a paddle as some may say.

But RPGs as a whole have always intrigued me, even if their endless and utterly excluding turn based battles and crevasse deep menu systems have kept me away. My one experience with a true RPG game was Final Fantasy III on DS and I’m still recovering from my forty-five minutes of horror with the game. Baffled by the repetitive nature of clicking options, the sheer frustration of random battles and the groaning pace, I was on the fence from the outset. Then I died and for some reason hadn’t saved and was told to start again. After I repeated this and died a second time, any desire to look at Final Fantasy III ever again suddenly subsided and I haven’t returned since.

This is my main issue with the genre; the games look amazing but play out with all the excitement of sifting gravel for a pastime. RPG characters by their very nature have stylish, eye-catching and exciting designs, and the JRPG variety definitely lead the pack. From massive hair to crazy fashion statements, there’s no doubt that the JRPG is gaming’s very own haute couture.

I never really returned to the world of JRPGs to give it a second go, Pokémon and Kingdom Hearts aside, but the fashionable face of the RPG world definitely stuck with me. Read on to check out not only some of the genre’s best dressed leading gents but also why they should be gracing the pages of every respectable fashion magazine in the world in our latest edition of Fashion-Forward.

Lloyd Irving artwork Fashion-Forward

First on this issue’s fashionable chopping block is Lloyd Irving, protagonist of the GameCube title, Tales of Symphonia. What Lloyd may lack in the “dangerous sounding name” department he definitely makes up for with his wardrobe as the swordsman strikes out with a unique look that is instantly recognisable as his own.

Sticking with strong, bold colours, Lloyd’s outfit is predominantly a bold red, symbolising confidence, power and passion, and finishes off the ensemble with silver buttons to maintain a military feel. He’s also ready to tackle any challenge with his all-purpose matching gauntlets and boots, a key point of clothing this season. Lloyd’s well aware that his clothes can’t just look good, they have to be practical in everyday world-saving too.

While many aspects of Lloyd’s design may seem a touch bizarre (I will grant you that very few designers have shown streaming neck wings this year), there is also a lot of things that the boy is completely on trend with. Not only completely nailing the military vibe that is dominant at the moment, Lloyd has also hit these season’s twist on the style with his double breasted jacket, a detail that has transcended from jackets to even cardigans and polo shirts this year. He’s also bang on with tucking his simple trousers into his shoes, an increasing habit due to the rise of the all-important military boot.

Military style Fashion-Forward
Jacket on left, H&M. Jacket on lower right, River Island. Both boots All Saints.

Military has been one of the biggest stylistic themes in fashion over the past decade and it shows no signs of slowing down, with this season showing more army staples with new details than ever before. Just like Lloyd, the key piece for your Autumn wardrobe is a double breasted jacket, but in the more subdued tones of navy, grey and earth tones. Drawing straight from the iconic military uniforms of old, flashy large buttons, shoulder epaulette details and banding at the wrists can be found from the high street right up to high fashion.

Jackets are one thing, but the biggest thing in military wear right now is pounding the streets across the land. I’m talking about boots. Slightly dishevelled, lovingly crafted and as showy or subtle as you like, this new style may not have all the pizazz of Lloyd’s bright red affairs but will become your wardrobe’s new best friend.

They may have been hanging around on the style periphery for a fair while now, but when Doctor Who straps a pair on then even the critics must concede, they’re in vogue. While certain Time Lords can snag pairs from when the officers were wearing them the first time round, the military boot is now in practically every shop in the land. Most are somewhat imitative, All Saints has long been the pioneer of this particular trend, crafting not only the Doctor’s pair but my equally adored pair as well. Nerdy rocker types of the world take note, their boots are perfection in shoe form.

Next under our style microscope is Ike, leading man from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and trusty heavyweight from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Ike is a bit of individualist in the way he dresses but I’ll be kind here, let’s just say you can tell Ike definitely doesn’t employ a stylist. There’s olive bandanas, nipple buckles, burgundy capes, gold trim, shoulder armour, and trousers that need to be returned to whichever production of Aladdin they escaped from.

But Ike does show a lot of potential. The high necked collar, the earthy tones and weathered leather trim are all bang on trend, but the blue haired swordsman is also showing off this season’s must have piece: The Cape. As far fetched as it may sound to men everywhere, this season’s new cover up for women is the cape. (Honestly I’m not making this up, capes really are in.)

For when I say cape I don’t mean like Ike’s cape or Batman’s cape, though I wish I did, but more conceptual pieces that provide both trendiness and functionality. This season, a neutral-coloured cape works with a supposedly endless array of outfits, and the fashion elite claim there are few situations where a cape won’t enhance your overall look. A recent article I read claimed there were at least ten different ways to wear a cape; how have women survived so long without them?

And in key with this season’s concept of functionality rather than impracticality, inspired outerwear has become the hottest ticket in every collection thanks to its ability for making style transcend all weather elements you can think of. And I live in Scotland, so “all weather” generally means rain.

New Coat style Fashion-Forward
Autumn/Winter 2010 Collections. From left: Celine, Burberry Prorsum, Alexander Wang.

While these looks may lack some of the impact of Ike’s “Fear Me, Evil Forces Hellbent On Purging My Land of Joy and Hope” threadbare ensemble (and that’s murder to find off the rack let me tell you), they all share a certain rogueish elegance that definitely harks back to our Fire Emblem hero.

The stylized shoudlers strutting on the Parisian catwalk on the left, hailing from French fashion house Celine, both draws inspiration from the shoulder pieces just like Ike’s (I will never tire of typing that) and also makes an otherwise simple silhouette truly stand out. The over sized, super wide collar is also rather of the moment, an unlucky trend for anyone with narrow shoudlers. Though in this jacket, I doubt you’ll have that issue.

While I was out shopping for a Winter coat of my own (the Celine just wasn’t my colour), I felt overcome by a semantic tidal wave of made-up-sounding coat styles, ranging from the trusty Mackintosh and Trench to the slightly implausible Gent’s Coat and Long Coat and the frankly ridiculous “Pea Coat” and “Car Coat”. Well, I have to further muddy the matter with Burberry Prorsum’s latest offering: the Aviator Jacket.

Inspired by the likes of Amelia Aerhart, the dark leather and overflowing fluffy collar of an Aviator has become coat du jour across several designers and has officially adopted the elusive title of “latest thing slightly obsessed women are willing to scratch each other’s eyes out for”. The connections back to our stylish Ike are also pretty clear in the recurring wide collar, the textured dark leather body and the colours of his headband that might just be sneaking into that textured dress. Top marks Burberry Prorsum, we approve.

(Interesting fact: Prorsum is Latin for “Forward” and was first introduced to the brand emblem in 1901. Keep your eyes peeled for when we become so pretentious that we get pet gazelles and rename this feature “Fashion Prorsum” soon.)

Last up on this look is the Alexander Wang cape. Which, and I’m not gonna lie here, looks like a well shaped blanket she’s shoved over her head. But that blanket she’s shoved over her head happens to be in this season’s new colour: camel. Camel is the new colour of luxury, refinement and elegance and if it’s the colour of the blanket you’ve shoved over your head, perhaps eccentricity.

Neku artwork Fashion-Forward

Last up in this edition of Fashion Forward is Neku, the teenage hero of confusingly-titled cult DS hit The World Ends With You. And while the game revolved around keeping up with the latest Tokyo fashion trends to stay powerful, a game that is obviously very dear to Fashion-Forward’s heart, we also like Neku’s original, debut outfit. It’s not perfect, purple is so last year, but we think it has definite promise.

While we have a soft spot for his clunky trainers, baggy white shorts and electric orange hair, the thing that makes Neku intriguing is that massive baggy neck on his sleeveless jumper. (Ah yes, we don’t like the sleeveless jumper either.) For all that the neckline seems fantastical and silly, it’s one of the most central things to the character design and really jumps out at you upon first looking. And it appears that menswear designers agree with us.

Cowl Grey Style Fashion-Forward
Model left, Burberry Prorsum. Cardigan top right, All Saints. Tee below, Topman.

Consider this a micro tend compared to the likes of military and outerwear but this new neckline has been popping up in a fair few places, all over menswear. Infinity scarves that ring around the neck, formerly titled the far less pleasing “snood” in a former life I believe, come together with scoop necked and cowl necked tees, cardigan and knitwear to present a high fashion and high street homage to the Japanese teen hero.

This look generally comes off better when you’re wearing one of the scarves to be honest. Unless you are of a very trendy and bold persuasion, the low-necked tees wil just make you look like you’re wearing a hoodie backwards. And keep the colours neutral, like the grey shades shown off above. When you’re approaching an ambitious style or wearing a particularly startling item, keep everything else relatively low key to avoid looking like you fell through a rag bin.

While this trend has actually got a load of momentum behind it, the fact that no one can decide what to call it as a whole has perhaps lead to a slight stalling in people’s awareness of it. For example, what one brand would call a cowl neck is soon a scoop neck in the next and so on and so forth. (It even took me half an hour to find the “eternity scarf” until I found out they’re called snoods by normal people.) Since this style has a thousand and one names, how about we create a new collective term for them all that also gives The World Ends With You the props it deserves. How about the “Necku”? Thank you, thank you; I’m here all week.

And that’s all for this edition of Fahion Forward, allowing badly dressed JRPG characters to once again leave the house without a bag over their head. If you have any style tips of your own or know of a character that’s committed a fashion felony that we need to look into, let us know in the comments!

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