Before hobbies, intramural sports, romance, and even fashion, Tu and Tsai had RuneScape: a game that taught them about monetary worth, market changes, and anonymous digital engagement through its oddly appealing isometric graphics and low-detail textures. Achieving skill goals and completing quests were prioritized addictions, coming at the cost of academic suffering and inadequate IRL social lives—and yet, the game shed light on unexpectedly philosophical concepts like identity and personal expression. Much like the offline world, having endless amounts of money in RuneScape enables players to buy anything and everything they would want to equip and wear, but doesn’t actually provide any new understanding on how a player can communicate themselves via style. Through acquisition and experimentation, Tu and Tsai found novelty in mixing expensive armors with affordable, low-level equipment—an attitude about style that they carry to this day.
Finalizing the concept behind their autumn-winter collection was both as demanding and rewarding as completing an elite-level clue scroll. What seemed like a waste of time to external onlookers (mostly parents and elementary school teachers) had been digested for fifteen years and refined into a series of garments that exemplify the range of character classes, skills, items, and iconography that are so classically associated with Old School RuneScape. Khaki poplin hooded shirts are made to resemble monk robes, while supple leather flasher coats ironically nod to the cowhide equipment worn by beginners. The armor motif is thoroughly explored through silhouette (a pleated-back bomber and skirted trouser set points to the iron plate skirting of novice knights) but also through fabric (shiny denim textiles evoke the luster of steel armor). Piping-embellished viscose suiting emulates highly sought-after trimmed armor—valued in-game solely as a status symbol for its appearance and rarity. The recurring S+E seal is remixed in the shape of a damage splat and hand-sequined onto the body of an ice blue sashiko overshirt. Needle punch blazers and trousers match the anachronistic formality of the well-dressed clerks at the Grand Exchange marketplace. The end game of all expensive equipment—gilded—is featured prominently throughout the collection as the color yellow, done in textured viscose and a very cozy bouclé. The graphic of the season can be seen on a light teal sashiko set: skill and prayer icons are woven into a helical DNA-like print, illustrating the fundamental importance of developing skills—and subsequently dictating a path, a specialty, a personality—within OSRS.
For AW23, Steele + Edith makes time to explore their foundation of style—before they knew what style even was. “Stand and Deliver!” is a journey to a place and time we’ve all experienced, and perhaps one that a part of us will never leave.