The Gucci x Balenciaga pieces in the latest Gucci show feel gauche. Here are some cooler collaborations to shop
Gucci presented their first collection of their centennial season on April 15th through a fashion film.
The collection, entitled "ARIA," was replete with references to designers, trends, and pieces past. Notably, the collection also featured a collaboration with Balenciaga.
Both members of the Kering group (aka the Gucci Group) — one of the two major fashion conglomerates alongside LVMH — Gucci and Balenciaga are always battling for the top spot amongst luxury brands. With this collection, Gucci combined elements from Balenciaga in a process Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele described as "hacking."
In a conversation posted on Gucci's Instagram stories, Michele talks about his inspiration for the collection, saying: "Gucci becomes for me a hacking lab, made of incursions and metamorphoses ... I have plundered the nonconformist rigor of Demna Gvasalia and the sexual tension of Tom Ford."
Officially, this means the bi-logo pieces were not part of a collaboration between Michele and the Balenciaga creative director, Demna Gvasalia, but rather part of an experimental project by Gucci.
But fans and fashion critics are wondering if the experiment paid off or if it comes across feeling like a desperate grab for attention and relevance. "ARIA" uses references to other brands to create new takes on timeless shapes, but also to capitalize on the hype and fanbases of the other designers.
Fashion critic Luke Meagher of the popular YouTube and Instagram, Haute Le Mode, said of the Gucci x Balenciaga pieces: "On one hand, this collection is kind of genius, because customers will probably clamour to buy these 2 in 1 luxury products, on the other it speaks to the almost 'clickbait' nature of what the fashion industry has become."
Many agreed with this sentiment, finding the collaboration a desperate, gauche combination of name brands feeding into logomania.
While some of the pieces showcase the combination of shape and form that both houses are known for, resulting in some interesting pieces, most of the products amount to not much more than fodder for logomania.
Highsnobiety describes the collaboration as a "power play," saying that it mostly amounts to a show of "how the two brands can (and will) ultimately unite to maintain their cultural grasp with two hands instead of one."
Other brands have had success with official collaborations like "Louis Vuitton x Supreme" and "Dior x Air Jordan", so it seems that Michele is vying for the same kind of attention — when really all he has to do is design another androgynous look for Harry Styles (a la Met Gala 2019) and we're all good.
Despite the projected success of the dual logo pieces, the logomania fodder does not impress us. So many smaller brands are doing so much more with collaborations, which might be on a smaller scale than the industry giants, but which are much more refreshing, creative, and demonstrative of what fashion can do.
Union Los Angeles x Noah
Union Los Angeles, helmed by streetwear mainstay Chris Gibbs, is a boutique store which started in New York and is now based in LA. The carefully selected brands and products remain true to Chris's own aesthetic, which he describes as "unapologetic Blackness."
The store has had its share of high profile collaborations — including not one, not two, but three different takes on the Air Jordan, all of which resell at above $1k. Their most recent Jordan collab was almost derailed by the pandemic, but thanks to Gibbs, it culminated in a "Spread Love" campaign supporting Black businesses in LA.
They also just announced a collaboration with Noah, one of the most coveted and classic streetwear brands, for a collection called "Truth Dare Dream."
They described their project by saying they are: "DARING to ask 'Was Beethoven Black?'" DREAMING of a world where Shakespeare could share her prolific works as her true self without fear of ridicule and backlash due to the prevailing misogyny. And highlighting the TRUTH of Dumas, who was a French, but whom's father was Haitian and mixed. Through these designs we wanted to have poke fun but we also wanted to be able to do so while also reminding people of the marginalized histories of countless people we will never know because they were born a woman, or black or gay at the wrong place or the wrong time."
Some of the proceeds go to Watts Conservatory of Music, an organization working for better access to the arts within marginalized communities.
Something Special Studios x Newark Boys Chorus School
Something Special Studios is a creative agency based in New York and LA who do partner with other brands and agencies to create content and projects.
They describe themselves as "built on a studio model of collaboration [to] create things that reflect the shared vision of everyone involved." While they have done work for major brands like Nike and Converse, as well as luxury brand Khaite, one of their most recent collections is a charitable partnership with the Newark Boys Chorus School.
The Newark Boys Chorus School is the only urban chorus school in the nation, providing an inimitable, tuition-free experience for students of color in Newark, New Jersey. SSS now has a merch collection adorned with the NBC'S logo, with all proceeds going directly to the school.
Aime Leon Dore x New Balance
Aime Leon Dore is one of the most popular up and coming brands in New York City. You can't walk past their flagship store in Nolita without seeing a crowd of fashion people taking photos under their awning or of their branded coffee cups at their in-store cafe.
Creative director Teddy Santis, who is now also Creative Director at New Balance, has been making the shoe brand cool again since before his new post at the company. With many collaborations from shoes to merch under their belts, the New Balance x ALD collabs always sell out and find themselves on resale sites at astronomical prices.
Most notably, their International Friendship Through Basketball campaign donates to community basketball organizations.
Brother Vellies x Sephora
Brother Vellies is a Brooklyn based brand by award-winning designer and activist Aurora James. In partnership with artisans in Nairobi, Kenya, James uses Brother Vellies to create luxury goods that support the crafts makers in communities she is inspired by.She recently released a collaboration with Sephora: the Doodle Bag, handmade in Mexico. The bag uses premium materials, and James recently posted about her appreciation for Sephora's support for her company the 15 Percent Pledge, which urges big businesses to give 15% of their shelf space to Black brands.
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