With Gucci’s name spray painted graffiti style on Balenciaga’s boutique windows, it is easy to be confused which brand’s store one is in. Welcome to the Balenciaga and Gucci Hacker Project Series, which came full circle this week when the collaborative collection hit the shops.
The ersatz vandalised windows, a savvy merchandising and marketing operation, can be seen across 74 global Balenciaga locations. Some stores, like Balenciaga’s flagship in Amsterdam, were still in the process of updating the displays.
With a play on each other’s brand signifiers – the double G fashionably morphed into a double B, etc. – the hack fundamentally questions luxury’s core of authenticity and consumer behaviour. Some items, by design, look as if they were cross pollinated like the counterfeits seen on the black market.
New interpretations of signature pieces
Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele went beyond appropriation, however, merging the motifs of the Kering-owned Maisons they each helm to create new interpretations of signature pieces.
Breaking it down at product level, a switching of fabrics and trims from their respective ateliers forms a new blueprint: a gold Balenciaga metal clasp fastened to a Gucci print bag; a Balenciaga’s Triple S sneaker updated by replacing the upper fabric with a Gucci floral print. It is the ultimate logo mashup exercise for two of the world’s most famous luxury brands.
One question springs to mind, however. Would this collaboration have happened if one of the houses was owned by LVMH?