According to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Fashion Global, Balenciaga is one of the top movers in the luxury fashion brand Index, demonstrating an impressive 28% growth in percentile rank over the past year. The growth, in part, is due to the release of the Triple S sneaker, which heightened brand buzz across social media and increased traffic to the site.
However, the secret to Balenciaga’s growth might be more than just the release of a trendy sneaker. Since Demna Gvasalia took the reins as creative director, Balenciaga’s aesthetic has completely reinvented. A quick glance at Balenciaga’s Instagram will give you a peek into their creative direction. Dubbed “wacky,” “bizarre,” and “quirky,” Balenciaga’s social channels look like the exact opposite that you’d expect from a fashion powerhouse.
Mirror selfies are quite frequent, and a number of cat pics. Forget hashtags — not a single post has a caption. Unlike traditional luxury brands, Balenciaga has no desire to portray a carefully curated vision of perfection. Whereas most brand accounts in this sector, like Dior, share behind-the-scenes images along with “shoppable” posts, featuring branded hashtags to showcase their new line, Balenciaga lacks that campaign-oriented branding. Instead, they only share their collections in their story highlights, a different strategy than its competitors.
Despite the unconventionality, Balenciaga’s Instagram has seen dramatic success, garnering a higher engagement rate than its contemporaries at almost 1%. In comparison, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton receive an average of 0.3%, a measly third of Balenciaga’s engagement.
Ultimately, Balenciaga’s social strategy is in response to a cultural shift in the luxury market. Balenciaga pokes fun at the whole disease of pretentiousness and elegance infecting the fashion industry; there’s a sense of imperfection and authenticity that internet-savvy Gen-Zers can relate to, who contribute to around 60% of Balenciaga’s sales.
Balenciaga’s differentiation move has upended norms in the luxury industry, boosting engagement rates a result. However, the longevity of the strategy remains to be seen. This leaves followers wondering: does Balenciaga’s success re-define high-fashion on social media today, or will the explosive hype soon dissipate, forcing the brand to find new ways to remain relevant?