Is the Balenciaga x adidas Peak Luxe collaboration ironic?


The design elements of traditional sportswear companies and heritage luxury houses aren’t as far apart as it seems. Take a look back to the 1980s, when Gianni Versace’s sporty silk bomber jackets were all the rage, or the 90s with Chanel’s foray into ski jackets and baggy garments. He continued with adidas in the 2000s, he tapped Yohji Yamamoto before enlisting everyone from Raf Simons and Rick Owens to up-and-coming designers of the day like Craig Green and Wales Bonner. It’s nothing new, but today it seems like collaborations — especially those that combine sportswear and streetwear with heritage luxury brands — are on the rise.

This concept caused a change in the meaning of luxury fashion. It arguably started with Louis Vuitton x Supreme, potentially the catalyst for Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton x Nike collaboration, Dior x Jordan, and of course lately adidas’ work with Prada, Gucci and now Balenciaga. Luxury sportswear collaborations such as these have become industry defining moments and have continued to change brand strategies, especially for once antiquated luxury names.

The recent Balenciaga x adidas collaboration, which debuted at the brand’s Spring 2023 show held at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, transformed the American dream into an atmosphere that commented (until mock) capitalism, bootleg culture and how far a brand can push its audience. This has become Demna Gvasalia’s modus operandi, and now we live in the era of brands testing the boundaries of what ‘luxury’ means in the fashion industry.

Balenciaga’s collaboration with adidas was all of the above, and instead of drawing inspiration from bootleg culture – which Demna often did at Vetements, notably with his DHL t-shirt – the collection turned out to be more in his own way of “bootleg couture”. “Simply, high-end variations of everyday adidas items.

As Instagram account Diet Prada pointed out, an adidas strappy dress that usually costs $45 is now a strappy tank top at $1,550, apparently simply because Balenciaga replaced the name adidas with its own. This continued with $18 socks turned into co-branded $210 socks and a technical track jacket made from much of the same materials, seeing a price increase from $120 to $2,350 – with no doubt because the silhouette was exaggerated in typical Balenciaga fashion and his branding popped out. once again.

But with anything Balenciaga, you have to look beyond face value. Like her viral Distressed Paris Sneaker, Demna makes it a point to wear sneakers worth US$1,850 that, if they weren’t Balenciaga, you’d throw away. Similarly, the Destroyed Stan Smith drew comments from HYPEBEAST audiences such as “You can just buy regular Stan Smiths and wear them in hell for three years, and they’ll look like this.” Other products like the adidas Triple S have divided opinions, proving once again that many luxury brands, like Balenciaga, are looking provocative.

Demna, both at Vetements and now at Balenciaga, is obsessed with irony. It’s part of the Balenciaga brand’s DNA, heavily influencing collections such as the Spring/Summer 2022 red carpet-themed show which saw hypothetical celebrities (aka models) arrive at a fake event for the screening of a very satirical episode of The simpsons. Here it worked, as Demna showcased retro-futuristic tailoring and divisive footwear in a fitting setting at the Met Gala, or previously with Vetements, Demna delivered Juicy Couture tracksuits and reinvented Levi’s denim on a runway at the inside institutions like McDonald’s.

This level of subversion is evident in Balenciaga’s recent show – wealthy and fashionable onlookers were invited to Wall Street at a time when the stock market is crashing and the cost of living continues to rise, while marching masked gimp models. Commenting on the show, Demna said that money is the biggest fetish of all, but did Balenciaga really evoke the irony we’ve come to expect by showing multi-thousand-dollar clothes inspired by culture? bootleg and Wall Street to the NYSE while it also directly benefits this luxury industry, theme and price range?

In short, it’s all great marketing for a house that continues to be the hottest brand in the world year after year. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand who the latest collection is aimed at.

adidas’ collaborations with Prada, Gucci and Balenciaga are certainly not for its typical consumer. While many collaborations with Gucci have been well-received, especially its $850 Gazelles, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why these shoes cost more than eight times the price of the original sneaker. It comes down to how they’re meticulously well crafted, crafted in Italy by Gucci’s own artisans (like Dior’s Air Jordan 1) and use some of the highest quality materials in the industry. wardrobe of Gucci. The same goes for the rest of the Gucci x adidas collection, which has seen traditional Gucci silhouettes infiltrated by adidas Trefoil and Three Stripe iconography, coming together seamlessly in a way that appeals to branding enthusiasts. manifesto and the culture of media hype. However, maybe less for OG adidas heads.

For adidas, this means it can have a share of the luxury market without having to devote itself entirely to this area. For the brands she collaborates with, they reap the benefits of younger audiences deeming it relevant to their world, while none actually make products for those pockets of society. Here, the appeal is on the luxury home clientele, subsequently pushing the agenda of rewriting what luxury means in today’s climate.

These collaborations changed the face of luxury and introduced a new theme to high-end audiences. To most of us, this sounds like a tactful marketing ploy, but maybe it’s more about breaking the boundaries of tradition. adidas’ collaborative partners are the perfect case, because while Prada, Gucci and Balenciaga offer their own vision of sportswear as an extension of their aesthetic and identity, they also realize that adidas offers them something that money doesn’t. can’t buy: authenticity.

However, again, this is where it gets sticky. How authentic are adidas’ luxury collaborations? Forget prices and audiences; adidas is a heritage sportswear brand with mass appeal. Balenciaga is infamously controversial, Gucci plays on history and flamboyance, and Prada’s latest direction is as high fashion as it’s ever been.

As we’ve learned, authenticity is key to good collaboration – research has shown that 59% of 16-24 year olds are more likely to buy from fashion brands they consider authentic. Studies have also shown that “many consumers who buy luxury products are not in a good enough financial position to afford luxury products” and “some people perceive non-luxury products as inferior simply because they do not are not luxurious, [so] they also come to the conclusion that the more expensive products are of higher quality (contrary to any evidence regarding their actual level of quality or durability).

Maybe that’s what we’re up against here. Balenciaga, through adidas, gives its fans what they want – irony in its most palpable form, so visually impactful that everyone knows you’ve spent so much money on the power of a logo.

Instead, these collaborations paved the way for brands not usually associated with the world of luxury to dip their toes into it, authentically or not. They have tried and succeeded in creating a new era, meaning and cross-pollination of hype, luxury, streetwear and fashion, and it goes beyond just making so-called ‘cool’ luxury houses. “. It’s the Balenciaga effect: $1,000 dad sneakers and the warped destruction of luxury goods have been the norm for quite some time. The question is, how far can these collaborations go before the pendulum of trends swings in its favor and we all return to a less satirical era of fashion?


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