Inside Balenciaga FW17 with Nordstrom Men’s Designer Buyer Dan Drewes
Legendary Spanish luxury house Balenciaga is experiencing new life under the creative direction of Demna Gvasalia, who took the reins in 2015. He brought his singular aesthetic, a kind of warped normcore luxury, and it’s a hit. Our current offering is already a favorite of celebrities like A$AP Rocky.
Previously known for his controversial, logo-riffing brand Vetements, Gvasalia operates in the designer world but seems skeptical of it, even opposed to it. He’s interesting to watch as a consumer and a cultural spectator.
For more insight, we turn to our men’s designer buyer Dan Drewes to explain what Gvasalia is up to in fashion, and take us through our current Balenciaga selection.
Please note: we sell men’s Balenciaga shoes online, but men’s Balenciaga clothing is sold in-store only. Shop Balenciaga in person in our Seattle, Vancouver and Aventura locations, and in Toronto at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. You’ll also be able to find Balenciaga at Nordstrom in Manhattan once our first men’s-only store opens there in spring 2018.
SHOP: Balenciaga online
What has Balenciaga been about for men’s historically, and what changed in the transition of creative directors from Alexander Wang to Demna Gvasalia?
Before Wang, Balenciaga wasn’t on most men’s radars. They’ve had more presence in women’s. Wang is a streetwear favorite, and to see an elevated version of his style was exciting. He designed the Arena, still one of Balenciaga’s most-loved sneakers. Eventually Wang went back to his own line and Balenciaga brought in Demna. It could be argued that there’s almost no continuation now from the original Balenciaga as it was under the founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga. Demna brought his own ideas and now has this massive fashion house behind him.
His style is anti-luxury in a way, very normcore, driving the counterculture. He does stuff nobody else does: he brought the ’90s power suit back and other designers copied him. His crazy fits and hoodies are normcore style, but he takes them to extremes. With Balenciaga he’s doing what he does with Vetements, too, which is take everyday items and give them an edge.
Talk to me about the white hoodie. What is Kering?
The parent company for Balenciaga. They never do merch. They’re the ultimate luxury company that owns several of these designer brands. So for them to do merch is almost too low-class, and that’s what Demna loves about it. It’s like something you’d get at a conference.
And this raincoat?
We did this for a couple stores in a camel color. Demna will take an odd fabric like this shiny rubber and make a pedestrian piece, but with strange details and amazing finishing touches. It ends up like a super-luxury take on a rain slicker.
And this vest?
If there is any nod back to Cristóbal Balenciaga as a designer, it’s this. The back of the bottom of the vest has a downward arc, and the front goes up, and that’s a reference to the famous C shape of early Balenciaga dress designs. When you see it from the side, it’s really apparent.
And then this Bernie Sanders campaign-referencing merch … what’s the deal with it?
The trend of clothes that look like merch is a real thing. It got more popular with Kanye West, who took concert merch and made it into a well-designed product. And then the Bieber merch designed by Jerry Lorenzo blew up. Helmut Lang is doing it now too, with Shayne Oliver–designed tees that look like concert tees. The styling here is really cool, with the tees and hoodies over the flannels. The flannels have pockets inside the shirt. The model doesn’t have his hands in his pants here. It’s unusual.
And, finally, what’s happening with this sweatshirt? Is it gold?
That is a bleach dye. A very ’90s logo, a very normcore fit, doesn’t feel super “fashion.” We loved the vintage look and the throwback nod. Customers are already feeling this one a lot. A lot of celebrities have been wearing it, including A$AP Rocky.
Photos by Indigital Images