Kim Kardashian, Pernille Teisbaek, Rihanna… It seems that lately there's no star Demna Gvasalia won't work with to make Balenciaga his biggest success story. And while the fashion industry is still obsessed with how he managed to do it all practically overnight, one thing is for sure: Balenciaga is number one when it comes to creating memorable collaborations around high-profile women.
Talking numbers, the brand's sales shot up 79% in 2017 (to over €1 billion) and Gvasalia has become Karl Lagerfeld’s successor as the most popular designer on Instagram with 18 million followers. At $220 million, Balenciaga’s revenue is also bigger than Gucci’s – a feat that would have been impossible to imagine just five years ago.
What's even more impressive is how Gvasalia has managed to turn the fashion industry upside down without alienating older buyers or losing his cool street edge - something other brands have struggled with when appealing to a more mainstream audience.
"It's important to have that credibility as a street brand, but without being too exclusive," explains Laure Heriard Dubreuil, founder of The Webster Miami and Balenciaga’s real-life muse. "The fact you can wear the same garments from head to toe is quite a statement these days – no one is expecting that."
"Balenciaga is my most-worn brand now, because the quality is so good, and it's accessible in terms of price point too," adds Heriard Dubreuil. "I’ll wear a slogan tee with white jeans or black leather boots – it works all year round."
What's also interesting is that the label's recent shift into wearable pieces has coincided with a surge in millennial interest."I wasn’t looking for this, but I noticed it by accident about three years ago," explains Gvasalia. "On Instagram I saw young people use Balenciaga as 'streetwear'. And not just any streetwear, but streetwear they would actually wear. It’s really amazing that we found a way to speak to the new generation."