Balenciaga – Probably one of the oldest high-end fashion brands. The Parisian fashion house Balenciaga has experienced many ups and downs throughout its history, but has fought its way to the top. In this article, you’ll find an overview of the house of Balenciaga, from its history to the brand’s box office hits. Check out the brand’s most popular bags and sneakers and read about their origins. Nowadays, as in the 50s and 60s, it’s hard to imagine the fashion world without the label and it’s often seen at high fashion events as well as on the street. Have fun discovering one of the biggest fashion brands of our time!
Balenciaga: from couture to streetwear
Balenciaga has had a long career of changing designers and lines of the brand. The journey from a prestigious couture house in the 50s to the streetwear label it is today hasn’t always been easy. Read the exciting story of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s rise to the current head designer Demna Gvasalia here.
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Spain and Paris: founding years and couture
Highest tailoring art and noblest haute couture fashion – that’s what fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga stands for. The “Balenciaga” company he founded in 1917 was initially known as a small tailor’s studio in San Sebastián, Spain. The native Spaniard not only understood the fashion of the time but also something about business and quickly opened more boutiques.
When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he moved to Paris, where he presented his first couture collection to the Parisian elite in the 1930s. This was received with great enthusiasm and Cristóbal Balenciaga rose to the top of Parisian fashion designers. He managed to make his expensive creations known in America, France and England in only a short time and offered his collections for sale in the big and famous department stores there.
His first boutique in Paris also boomed. At just over 40, Balenciaga was already considered one of the most influential and successful people on the fashion scene. He lived for his haute couture creations and dressed celebrities and stars from all over the world. Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich were among his regular customers.
The 50s and 60s were the golden age for the house of Balenciaga and the founder himself often worked in close collaboration with Hubert de Givenchy. Also the staff of the Air France airline could be happy about high-quality couture uniforms at the end of the 60s, with which they were equipped by Balenciaga himself.
Despite the enormous success of the house up to this point, Cristóbal Balenciaga gave up his work as a designer in the same year and closed all his boutiques. The reason for this was the turnaround in fashion, which caused the change from haute couture to prêt-à-porter fashion, with which Balenciaga could not identify.
New beginning: Prêt- a- Porter and street style
After Cristóbal Balenciaga’s death, the Balenciaga brand did not reappear on the fashion scene until 1987. The Prêt- a- Porter line for women was further expanded under various designers and major customers such as airlines or banks were equipped with uniforms.
Ten years later, a new face appeared on the scene who was supposed to help Balenciaga regain its momentum and shine. And Nicolas Ghesquière did just that. Under him, the house got back the glamour of the 50s. In addition to his futuristic and self-confident models, the designer was strongly oriented towards the designs of the founder. He understood the spirit of the Spanish fashion designer like no other and was thus able to afford new experiments with form and fabric.
In the early 2000s Nicolas Ghesquière introduced a number of bags, all of which became box office hits for the label. The first menswear collection followed immediately in 2002. Ten years later Nicolas Ghesquière left due to a legal dispute and was replaced by Alexander Wang until 2015.
Today, Balenciaga is not only popular in elite circles, but also among the youth. The brand has developed into a real street style brand with the introduction of Vetements designer Demna Gvasalia – Cristóbal Balenciaga would probably turn over in his grave. In 2016, the menswear collection under the young designer was honored for the first time in the form of a fashion show, as this was otherwise only presented digitally.
Balenciaga had suddenly become a brand for everyone. Away from the exquisitely chosen customers to the street. Which of course means nothing bad. The house has made a name for itself throughout its history and nowadays makes a handsome turnover of up to 1.025 billion US dollars.
Accessories and fragrances: other lines of the label
what many people don’t know is that Balenciaga exclusively produced perfumes and fragrances in the time between the closure and the re-foundation of the label. Although the house’s fragrance line was introduced by Cristóbal Balenciaga himself back in 1947, it is now only a small part of the company. The fragrance “Quadrille”, introduced in 1955, was the scent of the fashion world for a long time.
After Balenciaga’s retirement from the fashion world, his heirs sold the perfume business to a pharmaceutical company, which expanded it until 1986. Today, the fragrance “Florabotanica”, introduced in 2012, is very popular.
In addition to clothing and perfume, the brand carries many other popular products. Handbags and sneakers have been top sellers since the 2000s, but the label is also known for colorful printed tights. Check out the top products of the Balenciaga brand in the next points and learn more about them.
Balenciaga sneaker: unisex and colorful
Crazy shapes and shrill colours. If you’re into the unusual, Balenciaga is the place to go for shoes. The sandals with plastic and leather details designed by Nicolas Ghesquière in 2007 already caused a stir in the fashion world. Today, Balenciaga regularly sets trends with their sneakers and sets the tone in the scene.
Many of the sneakers are unisex, which is probably one of the reasons for the popularity of the shoes, which is why they are available in many sizes. Also with colors a statement is set here, because who has already completely neon colored sneakers in the closet? Nowadays, pink is not only worn by women, but men also like the special colours.
Balenciaga always manages to strike a chord with their new creations. Shoes with toes. Cool or still kind of weird? The spirits of the fashion scene will probably never agree on the special designs, but maybe that’s exactly what Balenciaga wants to achieve. It’s guaranteed that you won’t get these shoes out of your head in a hurry!
Triple S: Cult sneaker of a generation
Released in 2017, Balenciaga’s “Triple S” sneaker is arguably one of the most controversial sneakers on the fashion scene. The sneaker was designed by street style king Demna Gvasalia himself. With this shoe he makes a statement in the fashion world and pushes the current trend of dad shoes to the extreme.
Among sneakerheads the “Triple S” are highly coveted, others pass them by frowning. And supposedly rightly so – the shoe appears to be pieced together in a used look, as if it had already been worn before. The shoe is rounded off with the size information on the cap of the sneaker. With just under 800€ new price, the sneakers are in a rather upscale price range, which still does not prevent the youth to buy them.
So why spend almost 800€ for something that already looks used? Because exactly this look makes the shoe so innovative and special. Particularly popular colors of this model are the solid colors black and white, because these can be combined with everything. Those who are brave on the road go for the more colourful models such as neon pink or brightly patterned. With now countless colour combinations, the unisex sneaker holds its own like no other on the market and can be seen in every season with both men and women.
Socks on the road: Speed Trainer
A minimalist shoe that creates maximum buzz. Balenciaga’s “Speed Trainer” first appeared on the market in 2016 and created a whole new world in the sneaker and fashion scene. A shoe that looks like a sock with a sole is suddenly supposed to be trendy? If you didn’t know what to do with this shoe model at first, it quickly found its fans and supporters.
The sock trend has hit like a bomb. The seemingly simple shoe in black and white design not only impresses with the simple sporty and elegant look, it is also extremely comfortable and easy to wear. This shoe is also wearable for both men and women and is now also produced in other colors such as pink or red in addition to black and white.
Arena Sneaker: Kanye West wears them too
Kanye West loves them – so do we! The Arena sneakers by Balenciaga have become cult. The seemingly simple and monochrome shoe is the perfect sneaker for any occasion. Whether smart with a suit or casual with jeans, the Arena can be combined with everything. With a straightforward design and the finest lambskin leather, the shoe is convincing in every respect. The Arena is available in two models, the Arena Low and the Arena High. Superstar Kanye West has also discovered this sneaker model for himself and has been wearing them in a variety of colours since 2012. Convince yourself!
Not only Triple S, Speed Trainer and Arena are among Balenciaga’s most popular sneaker models. Many others like the “Race Runner”, “Runner”, “Track” or “Xpander” are among the brand’s box office hits.
With a sporty and urban design, the Race Runner, the Xpander and the Track, on the other hand, are unique due to futuristic elements paired with the vintage sneaker look. Balenciaga always manages to be trendy with their sneakers. We are excited to see what Demna Gvasalia will surprise us with next and are already looking forward to the next season!
Balenciaga shoes: other models
Besides sneakers, high heels and sporty models, Balenciaga has a range of other shoe models. Bathing slippers for the summer, boots for the winter and even football shoes can be found in the brand’s range. Both the Balenciaga slides with the brand’s logo and the football boots are available in the brand’s usual black and white, but also in bright neon colours.
A very special collection was the collaboration of Balenciaga with the cult shoe brand Crocs. Garden shoes and high end fashion? You’re probably wondering how that’s supposed to go together! In a quirky way, it does. Squeaky green heeled Crocs make the perfect mix of quirky and classic. Crocs in bright colors like yellow are taken to a new level of street fashion with a platform sole.
Clothes: bestseller of street style
As a now established street style label, Balenciaga sets trends not only with sneakers, but also with its clothing. Oversized cuts, techwear, stylish outdoor clothing and muted colors dominate the collections. Comfortable cuts and cosy pieces are worn as favourites, such as hoodies and T-shirts with the brand’s well-known lettering.
Here, the unpretentiousness of the designs is particularly striking, with as little effort as possible to as much profit as possible, seems to be the motto here. The simplicity of the Balenciaga brand is what makes the pieces so special and generates the hype. But also leather jackets belong to Balenciaga’s most popular products. Here we have collected the most popular products of Balenciaga for you.
Must Have: Balenciaga Hoodies
Hoodies by Balenciaga are a must-have for every wardrobe. Whether stars like Hailey Bieber or influencers like Xenia Adonts, the hoodie by Balenciaga is often seen on the street. Often the sweater is decorated with logo lettering or statement print. Cozy and stylish at the same time, the hoodie is a super basic piece for your wardrobe!
Balenciaga T-shirts: for animal lovers
“I love Cats” and “I Love Dogs” is the name of some of Balenciaga’s statement shirts. A fun idea, but still a bit childish? Apparently not, because street style icons love this look. The t-shirts with the pictures of funny four kittens in really bad quality, are sold and bought from 450€ upwards.
Even “Baby Yoda”, the child from the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” by Disney has already made it on a Tshirt. In general, Balenciaga T-shirts are one of the most popular pieces in the fashion scene. The brand’s lettering is emblazoned on seemingly every other shirt, be it on the chest or as a backprint on the back. The mostly plain and simple shirts, which are often unisex and also available in many colors, can also be combined simply super! Whether as an oversize trend or with a suit, these t-shirts are something for everyone!
Balenciaga Bags: It Bags Since The 2000s
Nicolas Ghesquière first introduced handbags for women at Balenciaga in the early 2000s. The model City became so popular in a short time that waiting lists had to be introduced. Even today, Balenciaga bags are an integral part of the fashion scene. From the Motorcycle Bag to the now popular “Ville Bag” and “Hourglass Bag”, they come in a wide variety of colours and sizes. With the “Explorer Bag” Balenciaga bags are also represented in the men’s collection. Check out our overview here!
The new It Bag: Balenciaga’s Hourglass Bag
The semicircle at the bottom of the bag is its signature. It stands for Balenciaga’s typical hourglass silhouette, which can be found in many garments such as coats. The bag owes its name “Hourglass Bag” to this silhouette.
The all-rounder for every day: Ville Bag
The “Ville Bag” is a universal and simple bag. Its semicircular shape is not really innovative, but the lettering emblazoned on the front. Everyone can see that this bag is a designer piece that cost a lot of money. Because of this and because of its practical and easy handling without many closures, this bag is very popular.
Collaboration of giants: Gucci x Balenciaga
Enthusiasm goes through the fashion world- Hard to believe, but true! For the first time in the history of high fashion, two luxury labels are teaming up to collaborate on a collection. We are used to high end labels collaborating with cheaper outdoor labels or other streetwear brands to create exclusive collector’s collections. On the other hand, it’s not very unlikely, since both brands belong to the luxury group Kering.
Gucci x Balenciaga has created something brand new. Called “Aria” by Gucci, this innovative collection showcases the mix of the labels’ two core essences. Gucci’s anchoring in equestrian sports paired with Balenciaga’s street style aesthetic with the intention of going to a party. The brand logo prints of the two labels round it all out. A wild mix? It sure is. But see for yourself in this video!
Brands like Balenciaga: Gucci & Givenchy
Here we have put together some similar brands for you or you can have a look at our fashion brand list where you can see all the big labels at a glance.
Givenchy: Haute Couture, Perfumes & Friendships
In fact, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy were good friends, as already mentioned. Both brands were created at about the same time and have had to assert themselves in a similar zeitgeist. So there are certain parallels. To better compare the influences on each other, you can read this article on Givenchy.
Gucci: Timeless Designs, Fragrances & Cosmetics
What do you associate with the luxury fashion house? Is it the Marmont bags and the world famous fragrance Gucci No. 1? World stars like Harry Styles or Iggy Pop sit on the audience benches to admire the latest fashion collections by Gucci. Fashion that is later worn by fellow singers like Rihanna or Jennifer Lopez. Get to know the label that adorns the wardrobes of your favorite stars. Immerse yourself in the world of Gucci and learn everything about fashion shows, style, bag collections and even the founding father Guccio Gucci himself.
Many other fashion brands: XXL List
You are enthusiastic about Balenciaga and want to get to know more brands? Then take a look at our XXL Guide and get to know the top fashion brands in the world.
Extravagant haute couture. Refined prêt-à-porter. Fine sportswear and innovative accessories. The world’s most luxurious fashion brands inspire millions of people and fashion lovers with their exquisite collections every year. They camp out in front of stores to snag limited edition specials, stand on the streets of Paris during the highly coveted Fashion Week, and sit wide-eyed in front of televisions to watch the latest and hippest runway shows. Here is the ultimate fashion brand guide.