Skip to main content

Diablo 4 shows hell can be a beautiful place at Milan Fashion Week

Gaming and fashion come together to celebrate the upcoming release of Diablo 4
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Last weekend’s Milan Fashion Week was all about worlds colliding. Gaming and fashion - often on opposite fronts over the past few years - came together to celebrate the upcoming Diablo 4, which inspired the newest collection from Danish firm Han Kjøbenhavn.

While the game is about to get a two-phase beta in March, and ultimately release on June 6, Diablo also had a shot on the runway at one of the biggest venues in fashion, thanks to a partnership between the fashion brand and Blizzard.

As the “Chthonic Penumbra” collection approaches a summer 2023 launch, including materials such as faux fur, vegan leather, feathers, and plenty of gray and black hues, Milan Fashion Week hosted a high concept journey featuring Han Kjøbenhavn’s creative director Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen’s eye-catching sculptural designs, inspired by themes from the world of Sanctuary and Diablo 4’s mother of Demons, Lilith.

GLHF had the opportunity to speak with Han Kjøbenhavn’s CEO Daniel Søndergaard Hummel and Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen about how this partnership came to be, how Diablo influenced the designs, what it meant for them to recreate “hell as a beautiful place” as the core theme of the show, and more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

GLHF: Before we get into the details of the partnership, I was just wondering how you feel about the fact that, once upon a time, gamers were considered and seen as nerds with no taste nor fashion culture, and now this partnership and interest kind of highlights how things can be different now. Do you feel times have changed? Do you see this as an opportunity for both the gaming and fashion industries?

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen: I think times have changed, and that’s gonna change even more, I mean, the world we live in now. Hard work and talent are key, and I think that gaming and the value within that and what gaming provides is much more than just being a game in the day and age we live in. I think it’s kind of the future of what we’re doing, and then you will also see about the growth of gaming and the complexity of how your game is right now and how you exist in a different world.

So, I think it’s a different time, and I only see gaming becoming more and more powerful, right? Because it is an alternative way of living in an alternative universe of existing in, and there are so many people, and also the youth, who have grown up with that and can identify with that kind of direction.

So, I think it’s a beautiful thing, and I think right now it’s just the way it should be, and I only see it being even more so in the future.

Getting into the partnership, how did this opportunity come to be? Perhaps you’re a fan of the Diablo franchise and excited for the Diablo 4 release, or maybe it was Activision that got in touch with you?

Daniel Søndergaard Hummel: It was actually very, very organic, we have some common business relationships that approached us and said, you guys need to meet, there’s so much in common - aesthetic wise, universe, way of seeing things creatively - that magic can happen here. So we did that.

I actually think it was with Activision, and then the discussions just evolved from there and everyone in Activision Blizzard that we have engaged with, and vice versa, has just been - you know, the energy around the project and the excitement about what we can do and how we can push things has just made the project very special.

Getting into the details of the partnership, how did the franchise inspire your designs and collection?

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen: I want to start off by saying that I think the reason why we connect so well is that we actually share a lot of creativity and beliefs, and culture within the brands. So it’s actually been a very mutual journey where I don’t think that anything has been forced creatively one way or the other.

This is actually a collaboration where there are so many things in common. So it’s actually been a pleasurable journey. But again, looking at our brand, of course, we also have a tendency to be very dystopian, and work on a lot of emotions and conflict and darkness as well as Diablo.

So, of course, you will see Diablo very much in expression and in colors when you go to the runway. But, that said, it will still be very much hanging around, you know - because we do share a lot of creative beliefs. But for the audience, it will look, and they will see very much Diablo here, [as we were inspired] not only by the gameplay and visuals, but also [by] the emotions within Diablo, and that is something we have tried to translate into our collection.

Is there any detail that you think really links your collection and the game, anything that wouldn’t have been possible without this partnership?

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen: Yeah, I mean, some of the materials have been kind of chosen out of the feeling that I had after my conversation with Diablo. The key words of journey and conflicts are something that - of course, the darkness is obvious, right? The red color is something that would not exist in this collection without Diablo. So the red color in the Diablo color codes 1 to 1.

So that’s what we brought in as well as the choice of materials which you’ll see both being like rubber and leather. And also materials which kind of expresses more of like the journey, the more of like, almost like the death, you know, which is something that could not exist without Diablo. So very much yes.

Diablo 4 is expected to be much darker than the previous entry in the series - was this influential for your designs or key for you to say, ok this is the right partnership for us?

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen: Yeah, I mean, because we are dark ourselves. I know there’s been a few comments about the previous Diablo that it was a bit too light, but also coming down to the Diablo that I was playing, I think, 10 years ago. Darkness is a key element, and also knowing how the new one is going to be, that’s definitely something that we brought into, not only clothing, but also the choice of music that we’re using and how we set up, like the set design and stuff like that. So it’s actually been a big influence which we’re trying really to respect from the upcoming game.

And what’s your expectations in terms of reception for such a bold partnership, both in the gaming and fashion landscapes?

Daniel Søndergaard Hummel: Good question. I think, if we manage to get people engaged, if people find it interesting enough to engage with it, we’re on the right track.

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen: Yeah, it’s very difficult to say, you know, because some people will have their guards up. But I think that our aim is to really, really respect the Diablo franchise, which we were doing. But I also know that Diablo has hardcore fans who have specific expectations of how Diablo is acting and doing, but I also think that they will appreciate the kind of cool partner that Diablo has chosen here with our aesthetic and the way we create. So, hopefully people will be excited about it and be happy with the products we’re gonna produce together.

Daniel Søndergaard Hummel: Hopefully, it is going to be as natural as we think it is.

Do you think there’s any possibility or limitations when it comes to reaching people and fans outside of the original fanbase? Do you think this collection and designs will be appreciated even outside of the Diablo core base?

Daniel Søndergaard Hummel: I think it will expand beyond the fan base. And I think that’s very natural. There’s a number of different audiences that both we and Diablo get in touch with, right? Therefore, it would be natural for the fanbase to expand.

And do you think there’s something in particular about Diablo that even your fans are really going to appreciate?

Daniel Søndergaard Hummel: As Jannick said, I think you know, the emotions, the level of conflict within - what is being created is something that the audience appreciates because it comes from a very honest perspective, right? It’s not something where we’ve put two logos, and said, okay, hallelujah. It’s really respecting the DNA and the values, and the creative aesthetics of what we want to bring to life with both brands.

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen: Yeah. But I also think that a lot of people on board felt the same. Han Kjøbenhavn already has a lot of fans that are also gamers and love Diablo. The guy who’s doing my music has been a Diablo fan for years, he plays it every day. So we’ve also connected people to the creative process who are very much in touch with the DNA Diablo. So in that sense, we have tried to keep this collaboration very, very honest, knowing that our fan base also enjoys Diablo.

So, in that sense, you can argue that fashion versus gaming is not the most common thing, but Han Kjøbenhavn and Diablo will [do it so that] people find that a very natural match because of the way both brands are acting creatively.