Can eSportswear up your game?

The Summer Olympics will kick off in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, drawing hundreds of international sports stars to Brazil. But a different breed of competitors is also gathering in Rio – one whose idea of sport is fast manipulation of a mouse or controller.

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Nate Eckman, photo by Dustin D.

These digital athletes will face off at the inaugural eGames, a two-day international event. Countries can take home gold medals in games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty.

“I think the whole idea of eSports is becoming more in the general consciousness of culture,” says Nate Eckman, co-founder of Ultimate Media Ventures and the LA-based lifestyle apparel line ULT.

“[eGaming teams are] the new celebrities. They’re kind of helping us redefine athleticism. We’re no longer playing to this idea that people who video game or love competitive gaming sit in basements, because the reality is they don’t. They sit on stage in front of millions of people.”

But what’s a sports team – or even an eSports team – without uniforms? That’s the question posed in this DnA segment, featuring Eckman and KCRW gamers — and eSportswear models — Brandon DeVine and Eric J. Lawrence. Read on below for more on the story.

With the digital sports market on the rise, some entrepreneurs, like Eckman, are designing eSportswear for players and fans – and even suits and ties for eSports broadcasters, known in the industry as “shoutcasters.”

Eckman says his line, ULT, set out to be “the Nike version for eSports culture.” He describes the clothes – mainly hoodies, zip-ups and hats – as modern and minimalistic, with a neutral palette and pops of camouflage.

“There are a lot of streetwear-inspired lifestyle pieces meant to be worn casually … when we’re training in our team house or streaming playing video games for our fans,” says Eckman.

DnA decided Eckman’s line should be put to the test. We recruited two of our in-house gamers at KCRW, Eric J. Lawrence and Brandon DeVine, to rev up their gaming consoles and try the ULT apparel on for size. But did the new clothes affect their game?

“I wore my usual outfit as I arrived, and I changed while I was there, because I wanted to transform in the moment as we were about to play this game,” says Eric.

“Frankly, the outfit actually did sort of augment that flavor of competitive spirit for me.”

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ULT gamer-wear takes its cues from gaming, skateboarding, hip hop and street culture in general.

For Brandon, it was a bit different. “It’s a lot like pretending like I’m going to go out and work out,” he says. “You wear the clothes, you wear the running shoes, or you wear the training shorts or what have you – and then I just kind of walk around the block.

“I’m a very casual gamer … I think if I was more active in my video gaming, maybe it’d be something that I’d dress the part and prepare for.”

Nate Eckman, photo by Dustin D-02667 (Large)
Nate Eckman, photo by Dustin D