How Balenciaga Became a Big Name in Sneakers

In case you don’t know much about the history of Balenciaga, its full name in 1919 when it was founded in San Sebastian, Spain was The Cristobal Balenciaga House of Haute Couture. The founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga, was born in Spain in the Basque Country. By the time 1937 rolled around, Paris had become Balenciaga’s home. The House of Balenciaga was launching its very first perfume in 1946, which very quickly started attracting much of the same acclaim as Balenciaga’s famous couture pieces. Today, the Balenciaga brand is owned by Kering, which is a French multinational conglomerate. The Balenciaga designs are skillfully guided by the company’s very talented Creative Director, Demna Gvasalia.

A Fashion Innovator

Cristobal Balenciaga was a true fashion innovator who brought about the radical alteration of the fashionable female silhouette back in the mid-twentieth century by creating clothing that possessed both grace and fluidity. Unlike most couturiers of that period, he had the ability to cut, drape, and fit all of his own muslin patterns that were then called “toiles”. He gained serious respect all over the fashion world for his knowledge of construction and technique as well as his perfectionism, which was at all times unflinching.

Humble Beginnings

Born on January 21, 1895, in a small fishing village called Guetaria, Cristobal’s early life involved spending many hours at his mother’s side while she was working as a seamstress. When he became a teenager, he met the Marquesa de Casa Torres and she became his first client as well as his mentor. She sent him to Madrid to receive formal tailoring training. Then, as the most prominent female figure in their small town, she proudly wore Cristobal’s creations for all to see.

Early Success

Cristobal then found amazing early success in Spain and opened branches of Elsa, which were his initial boutiques, in Barcelona and Madrid as well as San Sebastián. It was quite the fashionable seaside resort at the time. His popular and fashionable designs were, in fact, favorites of the Spanish royal family and other aristocrats. Then, the Spanish Civil War came along and he was forced to close his boutiques in Spain, so he moved the entire operation to Paris.

Fluid Lines

Once he was established in the world’s fashion capital, he joined the ranks of established couturiers like Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel, Mainbocher, and others. Everything that he created was a departure from the then-popular curvaceous hourglass shape promoted by designers like Christian Dior. Balenciaga’s designs favored lines that were more fluid, allowing him to greatly change the way clothes were relating to women’s bodies. For example, the waistlines became dropped and then raised again regardless of the natural waistline of each woman wearing it. His many famous clients included Marella Agnelli, Mona von Bismarck, Gloria Guinness, Bunny Mellon, Hope Portocarrero, and Pauline de Rothschild.

The Balenciaga Brand of Today

Now, fast forward to today when a number of Balenciaga creations can still be seen in designer collections worldwide. That’s not surprising since he had been teaching fashion design classes that were the inspiration for designers like Hubert de Givenchy and Oscar de la Renta. You could even say that Cristobal Balenciaga is definitely among the most inspirational designers ever. So, why did the company go in the direction of over-priced sneakers? Why not? Sneakers are big sellers and command high prices just for the designer name and logo that they carry. And now, the Balenciaga brand is a major player in the world of pricey sneakers. Step aside Air Jordan, Balenciaga is here to stay!

Made in Italy

Take the Balenciaga Men’s Arena Leather High Top Sneakers for example. They offer Balenciaga design and superior quality with a leather exterior and leather insoles. They’re lace-up sneakers that are made in Italy. Then there’s the Balenciaga chunky Triple S sneaker, which runs a grand in price per pair and beyond for men and only slightly less for women. If you asked consumers why they spent that kind of green for a pair of sneakers, you’d probably hear some of them say that it’s the great fit but most will probably tell you it’s the designer name that they bought them for. Either way, beware of imitations because they’re everywhere. If someone’s selling Triple S sneakers from Balenciaga for a couple of hundred bucks, well, you know the old saying. It’s definitely too good to be true and they’re undoubtedly fakes.

Sneakers of the Future?

So, although Balenciaga is best known for an accessory called “the motorcycle bag”, could the brand end up being best known for expensive trendy sneakers in the years to come? Only time will tell.


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