Balenciaga’s Cédric Charbit on Moving from Hype to Timelessness

This year, Balenciaga proved that building hype doesn’t have to come at the expense of timelessness — a common misconception, especially in fashion. Chunky dad sneakers and sweatshirts emblazoned with logos can be sold alongside little black dresses and classic tailoring.

“I often say we redefined luxury,” Cédric Charbit, the brand’s chief executive, said at BoF VOICES. “We became a platform where anything is possible.” Varied activations, from a special episode of “The Simpsons” screened at the end of the brand’s show at Paris Fashion Week to a couture exhibition at the Tank Museum in Shanghai demonstrate the “elasticity” of the brand, a key to its success, said Charbit.

In 2021, the 103-year-old brand continued to shape the discourse, reactivating its legacy in haute couture while forging a new path in digital fashion with a partnership with the gaming platform Fortnite. Looking ahead, Charbit said he sees the metaverse as vital to the future of marketing and commerce as today’s consumers become more “active participants” in the brands they follow, announcing the formation of a new business unit dedicated to virtual fashion.

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“Right now the climax of interaction with a luxury brand is that you click like, or comment or buy something,” he said. “I think we can get to a next level.”

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