Blizzard Entertainment and Danish fashion house Han Kjøbenhavn unveiled a surprising new collaboration on Saturday at Milan Fashion Week: a Diablo-inspired ready-to-wear collection for 2023 that will be available for purchase this summer.
Han Kjøbenhavn’s “Chthonic Penumbra” womenswear collection goes far beyond the t-shirts and hoodies we typically associate with gaming-inspired fashion. The line is comprised of striking fashion pieces composed of faux fur, vegan leather and feathers, in shades of gray and black, vibrant blood red fabrics and complemented with pearls and chrome accents. Han Kjøbenhavn described the new collection as being inspired by the phrase “hell is a beautiful place”.
Ahead of Saturday’s show at Milan Fashion Week, Polygon spoke with Han Kjøbenhav’s creative director Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen and CEO Daniel Søndergaard Hummel about the brand’s collaboration with Diablo and Blizzard.
Han Kjøbenhavn’s Diablo-inspired womenswear collection isn’t the brand’s typical collaboration. She’s worked with other labels over the last decade, including sports label Puma and fabric maker Pendleton Woolen Mills, but Davidsen says she’s been less interested in that kind of partnership in recent years – and that Diablo and Han Kjøbenhavn share a certain “DNA emotional.”
“Normally a fashion brand would do sneaker collabs and such, but… we didn’t do a lot of collabs (like this one) because it felt almost too saturated,” Davidsen said. “We wanted to look at new possibilities, with new partners, where it’s more about the emotional DNA and the connection between the brands than a product. Speaking with (Blizzard), the match between us and Diablo was really, really good, because Dan and I’s aesthetic, creatively, isn’t clean and sweet. The darker side (is more) our aesthetic than a classic fashion brand.”
Davidsen said that Han Kjøbenhavn wanted to avoid making a direct translation of what appears in the game in diablo 4 – and creatively avoid what he called “tricks”.
“The main idea was to talk to the Diablo team and translate emotions to make sure what we’re creating isn’t an individual translation of a skin – that gets too gimmicky, right?” he said. “We are trying to translate the emotion into something that can exist in our world. As we both share a lot of creative DNA in our visions, it has actually been an enjoyable journey.”
Hummel said he sees “common ground, common aesthetics and common emotions in the audience that overlap a lot”, with Han Kjøbenhavn, “especially when you have an aesthetic like ours and the world of Diablo”. Looking at Han Kjøbenhavn’s recent runway and ready-to-wear lines makes it clear why the game franchise is a good fit, creatively; the Copenhagen-based fashion house leans towards dark and disturbing imagery, with an emphasis on black leather, imposing silhouettes and, yes, even the occasional gimmick — like a leather dress with a built-in choker that takes the term literally.
Davidsen said he was creatively inspired by the “great and beautiful and evil Renaissance” style of diablo 4art direction of the film, as well as its “dark and dystopian” atmosphere. But conveying the “journey” of a player’s adventure through Diablo’s sanctuary world was just as important as the game’s dark undertones.
“It’s a long journey, which I sometimes translate visually in terms of materials,” he explained. “How does the material react when walking or interacting? Of course, ‘conflict’ is also important to me, something I share with the Diablo universe. The darkness is obvious but conflicting – but the journey carries a lot of visual emotion for me.”
Those materials, Davidsen said, include leather, rubber and other tight materials inspired by Diablo’s Lilith, but also journey-inspired fabrics like mesh that feel like the game’s ghostly spirits. Hummel likened the line to “dragging (Diablo) into the physical world” through fashion.
Han Kjøbenhavn is not just track fashion, though that’s where the decadent showcase of creative emotion is conveyed, in clothing and sound and visual effects. The brand, which was founded in 2008 as an eyewear brand, now sells ready-to-wear and casual pieces including pants, tees, hoodies and outerwear, and Davidsen is well aware of the desires and expectations of the Diablo fan base.
“There’s a reason we started with the parade,” said Hummel. “It’s important for us to start with the core emotion and then turn that into more ready-to-wear pieces.”
“When we do the runway, we know it’s a set format: it’s flamboyant, big emotions,” said Davidsen. “The first task for us is to vent emotion, to be extravagant in some lines. For the public, we’re obviously thinking about ready-made pieces for everyday use – we hope to get a good idea of the players and the public and (we will) create something special for them.
“They are very specific in what they believe Diablo should be,” added Davidsen. “We have a tough audience, and so does Diablo. This audience wants diablo 4 to deliver what they expect from Diablo, and that’s something I really know. I read the comment sections.”