Balenciaga lands on the earth of craft

Latest news stated that Balenciaga is going to create a factory in Tuscany, following the example of other brands, such as Prada’s industrial headquarters or the “École de l’Amour” launched in 2018 by Gucci in Scandicci (FI).

Arts and crafts have always been the flagship of Italy, especially in the surroundings of Florence and the big fashion houses know it very well. It is not a surprise then to hear Balenciaga’s decision to allocate the production of leather goods in a huge laboratory on the Renaissance hills of Cerreto Guidi (FI), on the ashes of an abandoned local manufacture.

Artisans will be trained and bred in a place where history, traditions and beauty speak for themselves. The big move is happening in the New Year (2021) and could represent a true godsend in a very critical period, speaking of culture, innovation and most of all employment, more than three hundreds of jobs.

Finally, the Italian artisanal know-how encounters the French style of haute couture and the ardour of its Spanish founder. In fact, in the 60s, Cristóbal Balenciaga was the first star in Paris to shine beside Christian Dior. Maybe the tide is turning again in their favour, as the financial positive results may portend. But the history of Balenciaga, acquired by the Kering group in 2001, went through several controversies after the death of its founder in 1972. The reopening of the brand in 1986 in the name of a more streetwear style was apparently the furthest thing from the original brand image that always refused the prêt-à-porter.

As a declaration of not to forget the vast heritage of the House, Balenciaga collaborates with Google Arts and Culture platform, where users can explore online the museum’s collection and browse through the different digital exhibitions and shows. At the end, the change of horizons embodies the natural rebellion of a designer, Cristóbal, who was not a puppet of the fashion system, but was always forward. The brand has started a new chapter in 2015 with the current Georgian creative director, Demna Gvasalia, who is also founder of Vetements with which he wanted to subvert the strict rules of high fashion with ironic items and the art of kitsch. In 2018 he won the Accessories Designer of the Year award.

The consecration of 10.000 square metres of artisanal district in Italy is a clear sign that something is cooking.

By Alessandra Busacca