Before long, Ng was spending the kind of money on booster boxes of Magic cards that Braindead fans spend on his clothes. It happened quickly, and according to Ng, extremely naturally. People who play Magic, it turns out, are the kind of people he loves. “Magic is a consumer product, but there’s a thing about games and play that’s really interesting—there’s a sense of community that comes from actually playing together.”
It’s the kind of community that Ng says can’t come from something like sneaker collecting, which to him feels far nerdier than gaming. Even though he has a brand that sells sneakers, he doesn’t like the hypebeast culture around the industry. “People do meet over sneakers and whatever, but it’s just like, you stand around to shop for something, and then you just wait for the next time you’re shopping. That’s just not my vibe.” More his vibe: a gathering of t-shirts, pants, totes, hats, and a custom suit featuring art and typography from Magic’s history.
Most gaming-adjacent clothing doesn’t really speak to Ng’s new community. Searching for clothes for gamers leads you into an abyss of brandless t-shirts with eyebrow-raising text and bland logos, inoffensive at best and often worse. The next brand to drop a must-have esports collab will be the first.
This has happened to Magic: The Gathering before. In September, the game released a limited-run sneaker with K-Swiss featuring an infrequently used logo of one of the game’s powerful characters, Jace Beleren. The shoe is an awkward shape, a sickly blue, and for some reason glow in the dark. But beyond its rough look, it feels barely connected to Magic. A bad collab, Ng explains, exists “not in context of clothing, it’s in context of merchandise.”
Braindead’s Magic: The Gathering capsule collection is meant to change all that. The majority of the collection is t-shirts, short and long sleeved, plus a zip-up jacket emblazoned with a lightning weidling dragon, a full suit printed with a spread of cards, some hats, and a couple of totes. All the unhinged art in the collection comes from Magic cards themselves, but not the kind that see tournament play. These are the cards you’d find in the bulk bin of your local gaming store, the kind that are worth basically nothing now, but might have thrilled you the first time you opened a booster pack. The art is played next intact Magic: The Gathering typography and its trademark “mana” symbols. And, as followers of Ng will expect, there’s a couple of new twists on the Braindead logo, including a head holding a grip of playing cards.
Perhaps this is Braindead’s trademark: clothes that embrace their community. Ng has done it before: climbing gear, made with The North Face, for people that actually climb. Movie merch, made with A24, for people that really love movies. And now, yes, gaming clothes for people that proudly game.