Eastpak Channels Cosplay and LARP in Global Push

A blow against boredom and conformity?

Magical beings, demons and cyborgs need fanny packs sometimes. To hold their sammies and phones while standing in line for autographs and merch at fantasy conventions, for example.

Eastpak understands, as we learn in the company's new global campaign saluting cosplay and LARP (live action role-playing lifestyles).

Created by Antwerp-based Mutant and breaking today, the initiative bristles with offbeat imagery and just enough tension to keep viewers engaged.

Eastpak | Built to Resist

The brand says "Built to Resist 24" calls out conformity and celebrates self-expression.

Fair enough. Though cosplay's pretty mainstream at this point (LARP not so much). Mostly, this feels like a fun (and ever-so-mildly creepy) nod to fandom, with the product integration making perfect sense.

The approach actually feels more down to earth than last year's Eastpak excursion, which featured oddball retro-futuristic antics on a distant world.

"Eastpak bags have always been canvases for the young and creative," Mutant founder and ECD Odin Saille tells Muse. "Who didn't blast theirs with Sharpies, Tip-ex, safety pins and patches?"

That state of affairs led the team to mull notions of customization and transformation, focusing on how the brand "allows us to express ourselves and merge different aspects of our character in one surface," Saille says.

"That's how we got to Cosplay and LARP. Their handmade costumes are extensions of that. They're literally 'built to resist' the dullness of everyday life. They allow wearers to live many different lives as heroes, bad guys, elves, robots or flowers. There's this beautiful quote by writer George R.R. Martin: 'He who reads lives a thousand lives.' Well, I think cosplay is the closest thing to that for people who prefer sewing machines over books."

Coach's CGI universe with virtual influencer Imma rubbing elbows with flesh-and-blood celebs like Lil Nas X shares a similar sensibility.

"We're focusing on the kids who have made this brand what it is today. That doesn't mean Eastpak is just for teens," Saille says. "The brand has a whole range of products, including more serious work and travel bags. But its defining audience are the young and restless, with Sharpies and safety pins in hand."

Turns out 2023's off-world campaign themes played an unexpected role in shaping this year's workflow.

"Last year, for the Mars shoot in Lanzarote, our whole wardrobe got lost in transit," Saille recalls. "That traumatized the team, so we were really protective of wardrobe this time—especially considering its importance for this specific shoot."

"We didn’t want to risk losing key pieces. So, we took them with us as hand luggage. Imagine seeing people boarding a plane carrying blue devil's feet and bright green superhero helmets."

Those get-ups caused an unexpected stir on location in Cape Town.

"Some scenes were shot in some pretty rough neighborhoods, each with their own 'chiefs,'" Saille says. "Let's just say not all of them appreciated a 6'4" blue demon standing on the corner normally reserved for other activities. Good thing the local production crew was well prepared and could talk to these guys. But it was an adventure, to say the least."

Guy de la Palme directed through Caviar Brussels.

The campaign is slated for social and digital channels in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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