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Balenciaga abandons roots, moves to modern design

by Christopher Suarez - Campus Talk Editor
Thu, Apr 11th 2019 04:00 pm

In this column, I went in not knowing what exactly I would get out of writing it, but knowing I wanted to write about fashion. I expected to write strictly about American fashion, not realizing that there wouldn’t be American fashion without international influences. Countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan and England have produced some of the brightest minds in the fashion world. 

Names like Gianni Versace, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto and Karl Lagerfeld are some of the inspiration behind American fashion. But one name that stands out amongst all those amazing designers is Cristobal Balenciaga. 

Cristobal was born on January 21, 1895 in Getaria, Spain. Cristobal is the founder of the international fashion powerhouse, Balenciaga. The brand name has now risen through the ranks of the fashion world because of its unique designs and attention to detail. But what has helped Balenciaga rise to the platform that it is today is its conformation to popular culture. Popular culture has been the make-or-break of many fashion brands over the last couple of years and only the best brands have been able to survive the change of culture. Balenciaga has made its clothes more modern and has targeted the youth in its new releases. 

The brand has been around for so long, that a shift of culture and popular trends isn’t anything it hasn’t seen before. The brand was founded in 1919 by Cristobal in San Sebastian, Spain. According to the Italianreve.com, at only 12 years old, Cristobal was able to open his very first Balenciaga shop. With the help of his mother, Che was able to tailor and design clothes from a very young age. He then expanded to Barcelona and Madrid but had to move to Paris in the 1940s because of the Spanish Civil War. 

In Paris, Balenciaga strived as Cristobal brought a new taste to the fashion world. Inspired by the Spanish Renaissance, the dresses worn by the Princess of Spain and the boleros worn by Spanish bullfighters, he made clothing never seen before. Though he did make fashion for men, his specialty was designing women’s clothing. Some of the most influential women of the time would wear Cristobal’s clothing. 

But like today, the brand would go on to face a change of fashion culture. During the 60s, fashion was more centered around the hippie movement. This meant baggier clothes and more colorful designs. The old conventional look of plain colors, business casual and formal attire would become that of the past. With the change of culture, the brand was now stuck with no direction. According to Italianreve.com, Cristobal was not fond of the new direction of fashion. 

When the topic of adjusting his brand was brought up, Cristobal stated “I will never prostitute my talent.” Cristobal decided to retire from the fashion world, and he eventually passed away on March 23, 1972. 

Since his death, the brand has gone against everything Cristobal believed in. The new creative director of the brand Demna Gvasalia is in love with streetwear. This goes away from the original idea of the brand of dresses and conventional clothing. Despite straying from its original design, Balenciaga is still striving to this day. 

If you are looking into shopping from the high-end brand be prepared to empty your pockets. Like other high-end brands, the prices of clothing are high but the quality of clothing is even better. With the brand going away from its original designs, it now looks like a high-end streetwear brand. In my opinion, the best pieces the brand sells are its outwear/coats. For both men and women, the coats are oversized with Balenciaga spelled out on the back. Coats will run you up to $6,400 at the most. The lowest will cost you $1,190. 

What has caught popular culture’s attention really has been the release of its new sneakers. The Balenciaga Speed Trainers have been sought out by the youth because of their sock-like features. The shoe is sleek and comfortable which is different from regular high-end sneakers. 

The shoe costs $795 and it is not worth the money. Other brands sell sneakers that are similar in design and comfort, but will cost you about $700 less. Despite the high prices and the change of image, Balenciaga today still thrives and I see its new image giving it a boost for years to come. 

 

campustalk.editor@gmail.com | @chrissuarez0428