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Brief Published: 18 Nov 2021

Gucci x Balenciaga’s Hacker Project Evolves Brandalism

Gucci x Balenciaga, Dover Street Market, LA

Questioning authenticity, appropriation and branding within luxury fashion, Gucci and Balenciaga’s Hacker Project comprises 74 in-store pop-ups worldwide, alongside social media communications and a podcast. From self-referential soundtracking to simulated direct messages between the two houses’ creative directors, we dissect the key aspects of the much-hyped launch.

The stablemates’ project (both are owned by French luxury conglomerate Kering) forms the second part of a ‘hacking’ collaboration between the two brands, which sees them riff on one another’s design codes for their collections. The first part was Gucci’s A/W 21/22 Aria collection, launched this spring.

The Balenciaga-led part of the Hacker Project sees it take over 74 Balenciaga and Gucci stores worldwide. Interiors feature Gucci’s classic ‘GG’ print on curtains and carpets – but with the ‘GG’ substituted for ‘BB’. Meanwhile, aluminium displays (typical of Balenciaga’s store architecture) have been acid-treated to resemble scrubbed graffiti, while plate glass windows are plastered with ‘Gucci’ in giant graffiti-style black lettering.

While both brands publicised the new collection across platforms including Instagram and TikTok, their styles were divergent, in keeping with their signature vibes. Balenciaga published cryptic, monochromatic TikTok clips of models answering a knock at the front door wearing the new collection. Meanwhile, Gucci posted highly coloured maximalist images and short videos, all soundtracked by Gucci-themed songs from artists including American rapper Gucci Mane. Each brand also linked to a Spotify-hosted podcast episode featuring their creative directors, Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia.

Spring’s Aria collection saw Gucci’s Michele riffing on both Balenciaga’s designs and those of Gucci’s former creative director Tom Ford, famed for reviving the label during his 1994-2004 tenure. Both Ford and Michele are known for ‘ripping up the rule book’, which informed the Aria and Hacker Project concepts.

Aria – the term for a solo operatic performance – was an ironic nod to the collection’s combined Gucci/Balenciaga design codes. It was accompanied by a simulated direct message exchange, publicised on Gucci’s Instagram stories, giving insight into the rationale behind the collaboration.

For more, see Frenemy-Based Brand Building.

Gucci x Balenciaga
Gucci x Balenciaga