Disco Elysium’s Aerostatic Pilot Jacket: The Kotaku Fashion Review

Disco Elysium’s Aerostatic Pilot Jacket: The Kotaku Fashion Review
Image: Atelier / Kotaku

I have been afraid, for a very long time, that Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi — your fellow detective in Disco Elysium, a game which I love — was cold. Revachol is a harsh, coastal city — one defined by high winds carrying winter in from off the water. It rains and snows frequently, even in the short seven days you spend there in the game. And I care deeply for Lieutenant Kitsuragi, who stands by your terrible, drunken protagonist through thick and thin (unless you’re racist). But as worried as I’ve felt about him all this time, my fears have now been sated, because my girlfriend bought me Ateler’s recreation of his Aerostatic Pilot Jacket and it is surprisingly warm.

I’ll be totally honest with you. On the whole, I fucking hate video game clothing. Tons of characters have stellar character designs with impeccable outfits, but those stellar fits rarely translate into the real world. Most people simply do not have the big-dick energy required to pull off these clothes. This fact is worsened by the cheap materials used for most video game merch. We’re talking Halloween costume-quality fabrics, unsuitable for normal human wear in the real world, where things like rain and friction exist. Clothing that is merely video game-themed is also very bad. Look at these Cyberpunk 2077 sneakers, which I despise:

These look like Skechers-branded kid shoes from 2007, but without the light strips. They would be better with light strips. (Image: Adidas) These look like Skechers-branded kid shoes from 2007, but without the light strips. They would be better with light strips. (Image: Adidas)

These sneakers are extremely corny, from the “CYBER” and “PUNK” written on each side to the awkward colour-blocking throughout. They look like they’re trying to be from the future, but totally lack cohesion or obvious functional design. They are my greatest enemy, and I say this as someone who loves nonsense sneakers like the Trash Hippie 03s, Air Max 720 Horizons (the ones with the rainbow Gore-Tex shell), and chunky-arse Balenciaga sneakers which I will never be able to afford. Instead of designing a cool shoe, or bringing a recognisable piece of in-game fashion into the real world, Adidas made a mediocre shoe and then slapped some branding on it. It is extremely obvious that it is a piece of video game merch, and for that reason it fills me with disdain.

It is for this exact same reason that I love those custom Pokémon shirts, made in collaboration with Original Stitch, the virtues of which I have previously espoused. They’re unrecognizable as merch, and many are really solid statement pieces that can quickly spice up an otherwise boring outfit. They are tremendously powerful shirts, which I deeply respect.

Enter Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi — a veritable digital drip-god who has a very similar fashion sense to me, but better. Consider his massive, boxy, burnt orange Aerostatic Pilot jacket, his old but well cared-for white T-shirt, and his absolutely incredible brown cargo pants, which taper below the knee. His fit is immaculate and functional, as he uses every one of his dozen pockets to their utmost effect. I’ve stood in awe of him since the day he graced my screen, and fell in love with his incredible vibes. Which is all to say that, despite my feelings around video game merch, I have dreamed of owning his jacket for the last two years. Now, thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, I do.

In partnership with the slow-fashion retailer Atelier, ZA/UM studio has produced a small line of handmade Disco Elysium garments. All of them are excellent, ranging from a unique “Death Cloak,” showcasing the game’s signature thought cabinet, to Lieutenant Kitsuragi’s stellar cargo pants. However, the star of the collection is — without a doubt — Lieutenant Kitsuragi’s Aerostatic Pilot jacket. Over the course of two runs, 85 of these jackets have been made. The asking price is a considerable 399 Euros–this is likely the last gift my girlfriend will ever get me–and they are currently sold out.

The outer shell is waxed, wind-resistant cotton. The inner lining is a shockingly warm pure cotton, set behind a diamond-patterned dark blue fabric. It has four pockets, two hidden in the lining (where Kim, and now I, keep our respective journals), and two more around the ribs. The jacket is slightly cropped, designed to be worn with high-waisted, functional pants. The jacket also comes with a unique stat tag, mirroring those in game. It provides me with +1 bonuses to hand-eye coordination and to Volta do mar, a Kim-specific skill never actually seen in-game. In my testing, it’s been difficult to tell if these stat boosts are functioning correctly. Immediately after receiving the jacket in the mail I fell down the stairs of my apartment, which hasn’t happened since — so maybe it’s working.

An awkward smile, like an earnest version of The Expression. It is one of deep discomfort. (Photo: Kotaku) An awkward smile, like an earnest version of The Expression. It is one of deep discomfort. (Photo: Kotaku)

ELECTRO-CHEMISTRY (SUCCESS, MEDIUM):

The neuro-receptors in your brain twitch, sending a series of electrical signals to the muscles in your cheeks. They writhe and pull back, setting your face in an awkward grimace that resembles a smile. It is not good.

I live in New York City, which has a surprisingly similar climate to the one depicted in Disco Elysium. It, like Revachol, is a metropolis just off the water — which means that it is frequently rainy, windy, and cold. The game, which takes place at the edge of winter, is a perfect fit for the current climate of New York, so I decided to test the jacket’s efficacy at keeping me, and Lieutenant Kitsuragi by proxy, warm. I took to the streets of New York in sub-30 degree weather, wearing the jacket, a black crop top, and a pair of black cargo pants and combat boots. This fit is, crop top aside, very similar to Lieutenant Kitsuragi’s, and acts as a good test case.

For those of you who have never been to New York, the city’s most notable weather feature is its brutal wind chill, carried in from the neighbouring ocean. When waiting in line for my covid test just two weeks ago, it caused me to lose all feeling in my feet below my ankles. This was due in part to my poor choice of sneakers, but I refuse to take complete responsibility for this situation and choose instead to place some of the blame on God. The jacket’s waxed cotton shell is extremely effective at blocking the wind and, despite its cropping, managed to keep me warm even when fully unzipped, exposing my underdeveloped abs to the wind. The inner cotton lining was solid, and stored my body heat extremely well.

This photo looks like it was taken in an abandoned industrial district, which is neat. (Image: Atelier / Kotaku) This photo looks like it was taken in an abandoned industrial district, which is neat. (Image: Atelier / Kotaku)

Perhaps the jacket’s best cold-weather feature is its pockets, which are sewn into the cotton lining. These pockets are warmed by their proximity to your body, and hold the heat well. This is especially useful for me, a woman with famously bad circulation that causes me extreme discomfort any time my hands and feet are exposed to the cold for any significant amount of time. They are powerful and legitimately do a much better job of keeping my hands warm than even my winter coat, which just leaves them in icy, polyester prisons.

In addition to its utility, the detail work on the jacket is impeccable, cementing it as either a staple or statement piece in any wardrobe. For those of you who don’t often think about your outfits, most fits are a mixture of staple and statement pieces. Staple pieces are your basics: monochrome pants and shirts, black shoes, etc. These make up the majority of your wardrobe. These basics are then complemented with a statement piece, which pulls the entire outfit together. Statement pieces are what allow your personal style to really pop. Personally, I like to rely on sneakers and jackets for my statement pieces as they’re extremely versatile as far as articles of clothing go, though I do love a good graphic tee here and there.

Sadly, the reflectors do require the worst lighting on Earth to become visible. (Photo: Kotaku) Sadly, the reflectors do require the worst lighting on Earth to become visible. (Photo: Kotaku)

The Aerostatic Pilot Jacket is a gorgeous burnt orange, which is vibrant enough to stand out as a statement against an all-black fit, but muted enough to act as a staple piece when combined with other, warmer-toned colours. However, the jacket’s best feature as a statement piece comes from its reflectors, which, in-universe, are designed to allow for air crews to find survivors from crashed aerostatics — even at night.

The breast reflector bears the ZA/UM Studio logo, the right arm has the revolutionary RCM (Revachol City Militia) acronym, and the back has an absolutely gorgeous map of the Jamrock district of Revachol — where the game takes place. These reflectors are extremely cool to me, and make the jacket well worth taking centre stage in any outfit. If you could not tell, I really like it.

Read More: A Year Later, I Still Can’t Stop Thinking About Disco Elysium

Kim’s Aerostatic Pilot Jacket is not only a good piece of merch, but a stellar example of what good clothes can be. It is functional, stylish, and made outside of the fast-fashion nightmare factory. It, with good care, will likely last for the rest of my life — like any piece of quality clothing should.

I have loved Disco Elysium, and Revachol, since the moment I first laid eyes on it. As corny as it sounds, the game means a lot to me, and having a physical piece of its world is genuinely really cool. And that’s really the key to all of this. For all of my dunking on bad video game fashion, if you really connect with a game’s world and want a piece of it, grabbing some clothes you really like–even if some rando on the internet disapproves–is well worth doing.

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