Whether people are shopping at Forever 21 or perusing a street fair in their cool neighborhood, chances are, there’s one symbol attached to a hoodie lying around both places: the PlayStation logo.
Released in Japan in 1994, Sony’s PlayStation revolutionized gaming. But the brand also had an outsized impact on culture at large.
Its logo, designed by Japanese graphic artist Manabu Sakamoto (who also designed Sony VAIO’s logo), helped usher in an iconic piece of signage that streetwear culture incorporated into daily fashion wear.
It isn’t the only famous gaming logo, of course: Microsoft’s Xbox logo is easily recognizable, but it’s not adorning sweaters and beanies or being repped by Instagram influencers.
Even Nintendo’s red-and-white capsule imagery, easily one of the most iconic within gaming, hasn’t been adopted by streetwear culture as much as PlayStation’s logo.
So what is it about that distinct P and S icon that has made it so enduring?
The PlayStation logo has transcended gaming and is now firmly a part of hypebeast culture. Major corporations and streetwear designers alike have found ways to incorporate the logo into various clothing pieces. A long-sleeved shirt with the red, yellow, and blue logo helps it pop.
There’s a warmth to the PlayStation icon that makes it feel like more than a corporate logo.
Froyo Tam, co-founder of the Y2K Aesthetic Institute and a designer, said that nostalgia-culture tends to run in 20-year cycles.
Tam, who runs a Twitter account for ‘90s and ‘00s aesthetics, said the logo is a definitive part of that period.
“It will continue to be an iconic logo for many years to come as long as the PlayStation brand is still around,” Tam says.
Part of that is the design. The PlayStation signage marked the first real isometric art used for a major console, Tam says. People were drawn to its silhouette. The design of the silhouette “is very striking and helped in terms of certifying its iconic impact,” Tam argues.
“Everything about the PlayStation aesthetic is memorable,” Tam says. “It has this iconic start-up chime. Something really important to talk about is the original boot-up sequence for the PlayStation. It’s literally just three sound effects all layered onto each other, and it has this ambience reverb that also defined the ‘90s.”
PlayStation’s signage didn’t become a staple of hypebeast culture and mainstream fashion overnight, just like Final Fantasy didn’t launch with an immediate Louis Vuitton partnership. It took more than a few years for fashion designers and artists to start incorporating the art into their pieces. Now, it’s everywhere. Instagram fashionistas and labels like Hype have partnered with Sony for an anniversary collection, while major retailers like Forever 21, Primark, and Numskull have rolled out their own designs.
A remnant of the so loved 90s era
That’s the difference between hypebeasts and streetwear labels adopting the PlayStation logo: one has an overall vibe to it, while the other plays into fandom.
Both have their place but the former comes with its own essence of cool.
“All the trendy stuff right now has tie-back to the ‘90s,” Soprovich says, adding that since the PlayStation logo has such a definitive ‘90s energy, streetwear culture clings to it.
The PlayStation turns 25 this week, and much has changed in that time. The PlayStation console isn’t gray anymore, controllers now plug in through a USB port, and there have been multiple console upgrades introducing the likes of 4K and VR since the original hardware rolled out in 1994. But the one thing that’s remained consistent is the nostalgia-induced warmth the original logo brings.
“The original PlayStation logo will always have that tie-in,” Soprovich says. “It probably will go in and out in cycles, but it will keep coming back.
The original PlayStation logo is one-of-a-kind, and that’s why people are still wearing it.”