How Balenciaga Won Men's Fashion In 2017

Now officially the world's hottest fashion brand, here's how Demna Gvasalia turned Balenciaga around

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In new data findings released by Business of Fashion and Lyst that analysed 65 million consumers' annual search habits, it's been revealed that Balenciaga is officially the hottest brand of 2017, solidifying the French fashion house's reputation as the world's most powerful tastemaker.

With a strategy that's bold, knowingly-ironic and extremely limited in distribution, Georgian Creative Director Demna Gvasalia - who succeeded Alexander Wang in 2015 - has turned one of fashion's old guard into the name to beat (and mimic), with each new collection sparking a landslide of high street imitations that ape its sell-out puffa jackets, 'Ugly' trainers and conspicuously-branded streetwear.

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If you still don't quite get why Balenciaga is such a big deal, here are the biggest reasons behind its king of modern cool status.

The Triple S

Love them, loath them or long for them in the dark recesses of midnight, the 'Ugly Trainer' trend is a fully fledged T H I N G that looks set to continue well into 2018, with Balenciaga's Triple S the most coveted of all artfully unaesthetic sneakers.

Chunky, misshapen, attention-grabbing and expensive (£595, please), the Triple S has confounded all expectations and, in the process, become almost impossible to buy at retail. A pretty incredible feat considering their challenging design and month's rent price tag.

They're memorable, though, which is the whole point.

Being Ahead Of The Oversized Curve

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While every other brand in menswear is now experimenting with its own long-sleeved and wide-legged aesthetic, Balenciaga's signature oversized puffa jackets, eighties-shouldered blazers and aforementioned disproportionate trainers have given it a platform at the forefront of the shift away from slim and skinny men's clothing.

Sure, most of it might only be viably wearable for 0.01% of the population (or however many fashion bloggers and 'influencers' there are in the country), but to create change and momentum in fashion, you need your risk-takers to coexist alongside your more traditional tailors and designers.

That way, everyone gets what they want... even if you hate ugly trainers.

Smart And Subversive Branding

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Whether it's ironic logos that riff Bernie Sanders' doomed presidential campaign or enormous stamps that cover the back of entire items, Balenciaga's bold branding strategy has clearly paid off.

In 2017 (and the foreseeable future) which designer you're wearing is one of (if not the) biggest signifiers of style and status, as proven by Supreme's logo-flooded collaboration with Louis Vuitton and the graphic-heavy emergence of Virgil Abloh and his massively popular streetwear brand Off White.

Along with a penchant for smart branding, Demna Gvasalia has also turned the label's runway shows (usually predictable showcases) into their own talking points; seating glacial fashion types in grey-carpeted and halogen-lit rooms made to look like the average, depressing office for one show, and beneath the tree-lined canopy of Paris' Bois de Boulogne park for another, where the models were made up of actual families.

Contrived? Maybe a bit, but it all serves the wider purpose of getting and keeping people talking, which is precisely why we're discussing Balenciaga as the year's biggest brand.

@FinlayRenwick

Key Pieces

Paris-Embroidered Bomber Jacket, £1,250, matchesfashion.com

Triple S Trainers, £595, balenciaga.com

Brown Double-Breasted Wool-Blend Tweed Blazer, £1,445, mrporter.com