Browse all

How Balenciaga found success in America.

«Are we merging fashion and entertainment? Yes», said the brand's CEO

How Balenciaga found success in America. «Are we merging fashion and entertainment? Yes», said the brand's CEO

The fashion show that Balenciaga is preparing to stage on Wall Street this Sunday is sure to be talked about for weeks. But its very American location, in the very heart of Western capitalism, illustrates well how the brand has reached the pinnacle of its success by dialoguing and rethinking the relationship that fashion has with pop culture especially in the United States. Although the appeal of the brand's strategy appeals to the whole world, it is true that it does so by speaking through the icons of contemporary American culture: The Simpsons, Kim Kardashian, Justin Biber (who is in fact Canadian but whom we can call an American pop star), Saturday Night Live, the Met Gala. «The American clients, when they saw what Demna was thinking and doing for Balenciaga, were the ones to embrace it at first», explained to WSJ Cédric Charbit, CEO of the brand. Not coincidentally the U.S. is the fastest growing market for Balenciaga - a love affair that will be sealed by Sunday's show and the release of a special capsule available exclusively at the brand's Madison Avenue boutique.

Balenciaga's success in the United States (where, according to analysts, spending on luxury goods increased by 8 percent last April alone) also corresponds to the changing demographics of the ultra-rich class: while men in suits are being replaced by crypto-bros, start-up sharks, and tech despots, the logoed hoodies and ironic t-shirts conceived by Demna and his studio are selling at an estimated but unconfirmed rate of two billion dollars a year. It's all a result of the radical push for innovation followed by the brand: from the video game Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow to the collection created for Fortnite with 3D billboards, from the return of Haute Couture to the collaboration with Yeezy x Gap, via the hyperphysical pop-up stores dedicated to the Cagole Bag, the bizarre TikToks, and the elevated concepts of all the post-pandemic shows. Then, starting next month, the brand will begin accepting payments in cryptocurrencies - aligning itself even more with the tastes of the new tech rich. 

This evolution is not only the result of technological innovation but also of a creative concept conceived by Demna that captivates the audience through a unique mixture of anxiogenic dystopia, post-modern irony, rave culture and, above all, a deep, intimate knowledge of the world of entertainment. The long and complex relationship the brand has with Kim Kardashian, muse and protagonist of a real-life drama that sees Balenciaga smeared over her every (metaphorical) scene is a kind of grand hyperreal universe, a reality-fashion or media metaverse where fiction and reality are, more than interconnected, almost symbiotic.  «Are we merging fashion and entertainment? Yes», said Charbit to the newspaper. «If you do something nice, it doesn’t work. You need to upset beauty».