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The return of Balenciaga's Triple S

The iconic sneaker reappeared in the brand's latest campaign

The return of Balenciaga's Triple S The iconic sneaker reappeared in the brand's latest campaign

For Balenciaga's latest campaign, Demna has gathered the brand's many celebrity friends, including the now unofficial muse Kim Kardashian, the French diva Isabelle Huppert and Justin Bieber. In the shots that portrayed him, Bieber wore the classic Political Campaign hoodie, a pair of Destroyed Super Large Baggy Jeans and the now famous Triple S sneakers. The presence of the Triple S in the campaign is unusual: it has been years, maybe even since 2017, that the sneakers responsible for launching the (so far inexhaustible) trend of the ugly shoe did not appear "publicly" in a campaign or show – but still remaining one of the main best sellers of the brand, being also featured in The Hacker Project co-signed by Balenciaga and Gucci last year as a symbol of Demna's aesthetics. Even in the many street styles of fashion weeks in recent years, the Triple S had eclipsed itself, giving way to sneakers such as the Track or the Runner, the Trooper boots, the Strike or the Crocs Boot. The fact that now the sneaker appears in the latest Balenciaga campaign together with another classic that is part of the ready-to-wear collection but is no longer featured in shows or campaigns such as the Political Campaign Hoodie suggests that the brand is proposing a new reading of its archive – that is, trying to re-propose in a unitary key the designs of Demna that came before the marked aesthetic turn started with the SS20 show. 

Although Demna's overall aesthetics and inspirations have not changed radically during his long tenure, the brand's SS20 show was the first high concept show of the "new" Balenciaga to break with the traditional format and marking the advent of a purer style, well defined and above all detached from that language that Demna had cultivated with the Vetements collections – whose creative direction Demna left  in the month in which the show was to take place. Not that this breakthrough led Demna to abandon sneaker design, on the contrary, but it is remarkable that the Triple S did not reappear in any of the subsequent collections. The fact should not be too surprising: when a certain design becomes famous in the global proportions in which the Triple S became famous, it is normal that it becomes closely associated with a well-defined era – in the case of the Triple S that era would be the rise of luxury streetwear. The sneaker is in fact so strongly characterized by its own cultural weight as to be distinctly "alien" outside of that three-year period 2017-2019 in which it had broken Instagram marking, together with the designs of Virgil Abloh, the apex of hype culture as well as the definitive passage of the classic Balenciaga of Ghesquiere and Wang to the new era of Demna.

The return of the Triple S in Balenciaga's last campaign would seem, in essence, to say: «This is still Demna». For a brand that has insisted so much on the concept of uniform and uniform, in fact, proposing two pieces so classic and representative of the recent past marks the attempt to codify a look once and for all, making it in some ways timeless by correcting that perception that associated the Political Campaign sweatshirt and the Triple S within an excessively specific era of fashion. By dressing Bieber with sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers, Demna established the brand's new normcore, elevating and "ratifying" the existence of a look that, however, was already a tangible reality for the brand's customers even if not represented in campaigns or fashion shows – as well as confirming that the Triple S is still an integral part of Balenciaga's aesthetics and cannot be reduced to a simple icon of the past.