Hypebeast Visits: Alex James on Bringing the Vigilantes of 'Persona 5 Tactica' to Life in an Apparel Capsule

ATLUS’ anticipated continuation of the Persona 5 franchise is finally here. Persona 5 Tactica is the latest spinoff of the massively popular video game, Persona, released in 1996. In celebration of its return, ATLUS tapped PLEASURES co-founder and creative head Alex James to bring Persona 5’s high school vigilantes to life in a two-piece fashion capsule. Hypebeast visited PLEASURES’ studio for an inside look into James’ design process, from gaming sessions to ideating the initial graphic motifs incorporated throughout the jacket and pant collection.

For those not yet enthralled in the world of Persona 5, the beloved RPG follows a core group of high school students navigating the city streets of modern-day Tokyo, Japan. Stifled by a broken system, these ordinary high school students become unlikely heroes in a series of adventures where they look to overthrow the corrupt and twisted schemes of the formidable Legionnaires. Playable protagonists — known by the Phantom Thieves of Hearts — access various Personas during gameplay to rank up their “social stats” and “social links,” using these unique abilities to aid them in the battle against powerful foes. Fans also laud the game for its immersive world-building, high-definition graphics and sound design, led by Japanese composer Tsuchiya Kenichi.

And since Persona 5 Tactica centers around rebellion, who better to showcase hormone-fueled defiance than Alex James? With a penchant for graphic iconography, James’ statement-making design manipulates typography, text overlays and distorted images to create evocative tribute fashion, enshrining cultural icons in a social fabric of his own. Working in collaboration with ATLUS, the designer finds a unique synergy with the game’s Japanese-inspired street art and character design.1 of 3

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“I was really drawn to the overall animation style. For me, it was vastly different from other games,” says James. His resulting capsule, consisting of an inky black zip-up jacket and black denim, features an array of graphic motifs that pay homage to the colorful world of Persona 5 Tactica’s DLC called “Repaint Your Heart Challenge Pack.” “From Kasumi’s eyes to the styling of the characters — the classic street influenced paint splatter and animation-style graffiti [weren’t] contrived but more realistic in scope,” he adds.

Vibrant paint splatters, graphic motifs and stylized lettering encapsulate the game’s colorful and rebellious ethos. Day-one downloadable character Kasumi Yoshizawa appears in anime-style panel graphics alongside fan-favorite Goro Akechi. “The use of Japanese iconography and modern messaging really worked in this project. ‘Repaint Your Heart’ is a message I truly resonated with,” James comments. Rendered across the collection in neon pink, the mantra takes on a new meaning — a battlecry for those sitting across from their computers and consoles.1 of 4

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Meticulously curated design accents personify first and secondary characters in Persona 5 Tactica, reflecting individual values and skill sets distinct to each personality. Between the scholar, the heartthrob and the hot-headed misfit, these familiar archetypes come to life through virtual cosmetics and clothing. Within the game, fashion is just another way of yelling to the world how you feel. “This is a crazy, fast-paced world. Fashion is one of the truest forms of self-expression,” notes James. “There is a direct parallel between the game and IRL. Everyone is dressed based on feeling and mood. Whether you get dressed to feel good, be seen, or [out of] necessity, you have to wear clothing. It’s how you present yourself to the rest of the world [that makes] the difference.”

The designer explores unexpected parallels between his graphic design language and the game’s sympathetic underdogs, who fearlessly fight to be seen and heard. Get a closer look at James’ creative process and the apparel pieces in the galleries and video above. 

Persona 5 Tactica‘s DLC called “Repaint Your Heart Challenge Pack” is now available on Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
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