What Ive Got: Balmain X H&M

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Balmain is a luxury French heritage brand that was established in 1945 with the help of Christian Dior. Pierre Balmain soon became known as a “King of French Fashion” post World War II, outfitting hollywood stars of the time. Because resources were heavily rationed at the time, hemlines were shortened which gave birth to the “New Look,” one, much more masculine with defined shoulders and utilitarian styles. After Pierre Balmain’s death, a series of designers took over the house, pushing the label into an increasingly elaborate and flashy aesthetic. In 2009, the company was revamped with the introduction of 28 year old Olivier Rousteing. Under Rousteing’s creative direction, the brand maintained the structural masculinity of it’s heritage, however also engaged in the glitz and sex that defined 1970s disco. Over the past few years Balmain has gained popularity amongst a younger demographic as an aspirational brand. Olivier Rousteing is known personally as a social media superstar, a role few designers of luxury brands are comfortable carrying. Balmain has used social media celebrity such as through dressing the Kardashians and the Hadids to inspire its future customer. The collaboration that made Balmain even more of a household name was the Balmain X H&M collaboration. Balmain was initially met with much criticism that a collaboration with a ‘fast fashion’ brand could cheapen the caché of the house, however their rationale in engaging in the venture was to promote the exact opposite. A Business of Fashion article explains, “for a luxury brand like Balmain, the secret to manufacturing desire exists in the tension between being highly visible and highly exclusive at the same time. The H&M collaboration ‘will make the Balmain customer see how everyone wants Balmain but can’t have it,’ the company’s chief executive officer, Emmanuel Diemoz, recently told The New Yorker.” With the collaboration line selling out minutes after its release and pieces being sold on secondary markets with 10x markups, it is safe to say the collaboration achieved Balmain’s desirability goal.

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