In search of the mysterious Dark Souls fashion police

75/100 - The crown clashes.

The Dark Souls community overflows with stories about PvP pranksters of every kind, handed down in oral and written tradition as lovingly as the game’s own esoteric lore. Players have been invaded by the likes of Mr. Meeseeks, Jesus, and inanimate objects while invaders have been faced with hosts disguised as everything from NPCs to Shrek. Thanks to an abundance of video evidence, there is no doubt that these comic invaders and novelty host builds exist. But one particular legend remains elusive: The Fashion Police.

To understand the Fashion Police, it’s important to grasp the concept of 'Fashion Souls'. The idea is that players forgo armor stats entirely in the more noble pursuit of  being the best dressed character during a summon or invasion, rather than the most powerful. From this movement, a more dedicated group of fashionistas allegedly took up arms and declared it their sacred duty to enforce the sanctity of ‘looking fine all the time’. These players became known as the Fashion Police. Their MO is to invade hosts and judge their fashion sense rather than murder them—although hosts deemed to be so unfashionable that they had to be executed by the Fashion Police have been reported.

At least that's the story. The existence of the Fashion Police, despite all the whispers on Reddit, remains largely unconfirmed. For months, I’ve searched for the truth behind the tales, and hard evidence still eludes me. Nonetheless, I’ve compiled all the reports of the Fashion Police in a bid to identify where they came from and if they're still active today. 

The hunt begins

The most circulated sighting of the Fashion Police comes from a firsthand account posted by Leviafun on the Dark Souls 3 subreddit on May 5, 2016, just over a month after the game’s release:

"Was at Pontiff and saw a Mound Maker duel sign for 'The Fashion Police.' Of course I summoned him, because a name like that is too good not to see what happens.

He shows up wearing a Leather set with a Lothric hood and does a full circle around me, inspecting my set. I'm not wearing anything too flashy, a Knight helm with Herald armor, complete with Silver Knight leggings and Nameless Knight gauntlets.

Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

I don my sweet new gear, the Fashion Police fist pumps, and promptly jumps into the lava.

FullMetalLlama

Leviafun continued,"He finishes looking me over and does a prostration gesture. I can tell he clearly doesn't approve, so I ready myself for a fight. But instead he switches into my set but dons a Lothric Knight helm instead, which significantly looked much more sophisticated then the knight helm I had which revealed my collar. I follow his lead and switch out the two and realize that I look so much better than ever, and I give him a rightfully deserved dignified bow. 

He applauded me, and then threw himself off a ledge..."

Although Leviafun’s post is easily the most popular sighting of the Fashion Police, it was not the first. A month before Dark Souls 3’s release, a member of the Fashion Police was spotted prowling Drangleic in Dark Souls 2 by Reddit user FullMetalLlama: 

"So this guy just invaded me. I look to the bottom of my screen, and spy a neon blue name. 'Oh jeez, another hacker' I thought. I thought wrong. Then I read the name. 'Fashion Police', huh? Let's see how this goes. I walk onto the Iron Bridge and stare at this guy as he comes and inspects my Falconer set minus the helm, Golden Falcon Shield, and Longsword with a pair of Binoculars. He does one full circle, thinks on it for a moment, and does a 'No way'. Crushed, I wait. He drops an item and points to it. I pick it up; a Royal Swordsman Helm. I don my sweet new gear, the Fashion Police fist pumps, and promptly jumps into the lava."

Sorry, but looking good in Dark Souls takes more than attitude.

From these two reports, I established a vital detail about the Fashion Police that helps us sort the impostors from the legend. The Fashion Police are not senseless killers, as many invaders are. Rather than attacking on sight, the Fashion Police dispense gifts of knowledge and gear. Unlike many invaders, the Fashion Police as described in these accounts opt to leave a match with a glorious death, rather than using a black crystal to return home or defeating the host.

The beautiful butterfly descends

While a good start, this wasn’t nearly enough information to begin identifying and tracking the Fashion Police. Next, I spoke with five eye-witnesses about their experiences. While Leviafun and FullMetalLlama gave fairly detailed descriptions in their original accounts, I was able to learn a lot more from other witnesses in private. 

Stroofwapples was invaded by the Fashion Police in August of 2016, documenting their encounter in an account more sparse on detail than Leviafun’s and FullMetalLlama’s. Although they didn’t include many details about the Fashion Police’s behavior, they did mention receiving a fashionable gift. Through private messages, Stroofwapples expanded on the encounter, which matched the profile I’d already begun building of the Fashion Police's  methodology:

"Again they didn't attack on sight, and this time they even got out their binoculars and looked at my outfit (I was wearing the Black Witch dress with the Dragon Sage Hood this time for sure). Then they did the "No way" gesture and dropped the +10 Lion Warrior Helm, out of their inventory."

Alkme, who first reported seeing the Fashion Police below Stroofwapples’s post, included these details in the public comment:

He started eyeballin' me up and down with the binoculars and then told me 'VERY GOOD' several times before he promptly jumped off the bridge...

Alkme

"He comes down all glowing in this butterfly costume and just stands there and starts eyeing me up with binoculars. We played it cool, exchanged some pleasant gestures and then he jumped off the bridge giving me an effigy." 

Through private messages, Alkme confided that they’d actually encountered the Fashion Police three to four times in 2016 while playing Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin on PC. Although they had at least one outlying experience involving a dual-invasion, Alkme was able to confirm important parts of the Fashion Police’s modus operandi. 

"He started eyeballin' me up and down with the binoculars and then told me 'VERY GOOD' several times before he promptly jumped off the bridge netting me some souls and humanity. I barely had time to even react. […] But every other time beyond that, he always invaded with a Minotaur Helm. And maybe the lion warrior top or other armors that exposed the chest."

Mods make wild styles easy for the original Dark Souls.

Rune-Knight-Ren corroborated these descriptions in their encounter in Dark Souls 3. When I asked Ren for further details on their encounter, they told a similar story:  

"My first reaction was just being kind of like 'Get out of here, this doesn't happen'. They waved, approached, got out binoculars, circled me a few times. After they dropped the souls they waved, ran off and black crystaled [sic] out."

So, from the five reported Fashion Police sightings across both Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3, on PSN and PC, I built a consistent profile of the legend: 

  • Does not attack on sight
  • Inspects hosts with binoculars
  • May give gifts of fashionable armor
  • Often opts for self-kill rather than a duel

But tragically, across all reported sightings every witness had another thing in common. 

They didn't have any images or video from their encounter.

Impostor syndrome

With only word of mouth to rely on, it was time to investigate those who claimed to be the Fashion Police. The earliest mention of the Fashion Police I found came from a Reddit post by Thug1sh in September of 2014, long before the other sightings. In it, Thug1sh seems to have conceived of the original Fashion Police idea. 

"I wanna make a psn account named fashion police, and become a dealer of justice to those unfashionable. This would be done by wearing something that looks like a uniform, carrying my large bloody nightstick, and invading as a red or blue."

Although Thug1sh initially agreed to speak with me, I didn't get any response to my more specific questions on when and how they portrayed the Fashion Police. On that basis, I deem it unlikely that this is the Fashion Police of legend. 

My second possible Fashion Police suspect was much more receptive to questioning. I found SirKrohan in the comments under Stroofwapple's post, who specifically remembered invading Alkme. Fortunately, SirKrohan was happy to give me the details of their Fashion Police routine, confirming the methods already established with just one magnificent extra detail. 

A recreation of SirKrohan’s Fashion Police that many players may have encountered in Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin.

"I approach without a weapon, only using the binoculars. A dude with a pink bowl cut, green beard, wearing a butterfly suit, slowly approaching with binoculars. After I get close and I get no violent response, I scan their outfit from head to toe while doing a 360 of their character. By now, I can tell 99% of the items just by looking at them. If I approve, they get a fist bump and a bow, and I proceed to kill myself in any number of imaginative ways—poison, harakiri, jumping off cliffs, magic, whatever is available."

Sadly, although SirKrohan portrays the Fashion Police with a stunning degree of accuracy, and a stellar outfit, they cannot be a founding memeber. Although SirKrohan is likely the officer that many Dark Souls 2 players have been invaded by, they have not taken their portrayal to Dark Souls 3 and cannot account for the other sightings that have been documented there. Further, SirKrohan confirmed that while they served as a fairly active fashion officer, they were not the original Fashion Police member from FullMetalLlama’s post. In fact, it was likely that post which inspired SirKrohan to imitate the Fashion Police. 

"I remember reading a post about the fashion police when I was a newbie to DS2 and it sounded exactly like the kind of thing I would enjoy—so you could say I adopted it."

I’d be remiss in ignoring the video evidence of possible Fashion Police captured in Dark Souls 3. Unfortunately, none of the videos available exhibit behavior we can attribute to the original Fashion Police. A video by someone known only as George shows his own taste enforcement adventures as the Fashion Police.

It's an entertaining show, but George frequently attacks his victims without assessing their fashion at all, indicating his act is just cheap imitation. 

Another video, by Jar Dev shows three players being invaded by the Fashion Police. This Fashion Police rep doesn’t attack the host on sight, but fails to exhibit other important Fashion Police behaviors. They seem more interested in dueling than in looking good. Look close enough and the invader from Jar Dev’s video looks very similar to George’s player character, using the same “call over” gesture when approaching hosts. The two videos were uploaded only eight days apart, two videos cataloging the same Fashion Police impostor.

At a dead end, and with no new evidence to examine, I feared my Fashion Police trail ended here. But about a week after my original conversation with Alkme, I got another message. 

"Was cleaning up my HDs this weekend and I found some footage of Fashion Police and I having some fun in Drangliec Castle as described in one of my stories."

Alkme’s unearthed footage of one of their Fashion Police sightings.

In Alkme’s video, the Fashion Police seem to be wearing Syan’s Helm and what might be the Lion Warrior Cape—similar to what they remembered. It’s a compelling video for sure, but this is likely just SirKrohan, who admitted to adopting the routine from elsewhere. The number of times that Alkme encountered the Fashion Police, and the familiarity between the players in the video, suggests it’s a repeat encounter between the two. 

Cold trail, warm hearts

Unfortunately, I've hit a standstill in my hunt for the true Fashion Police. Thanks to all the evidence I compiled, I developed a clear picture of the legendary Fashion Police, but no officers of Fashion Souls who distinctly fit the description. I’ve dug up the possible inspiration for the Fashion Police and one very enthusiastic and faithful impostor, but no candidates remain who can account for sightings in both Dark Souls 2 and 3. Although the evidence suggests a handful of independent players are still paying homage to the same concept, I like to think the real Fashion Police are still out there, diligently patrolling the multiple realms of Dark Souls, influencing the latest trends with free gear and disappearing into lava pits without a trace. 

The Fashion Police are proof that order and justice can exist in Dark Souls. We so often associate the lands of Lothric and Drangleic with entropy and madness, sad settings where we're just as likely to die at the hands of undead as we are by invading players. The Fashion Police are a beacon of hope in a chaotic world, evidence that players can and will be made to answer to a higher power, so long as that higher power knows how to rock a pair of butterfly wings.