If you’ve even taken a glance at the fashion headlines in the past year, you’ve probably seen or heard the name Balenciaga at least a few times. The Italian designer brand has been stirring up quite a fuss with its controversially expensive sneakers. Despite the unconventional design, there’s no shortage of proud customers posting foot selfies while bragging about the price point on their new pair of Balenciagas. Meanwhile, many skeptics and critics have taken to social media and blogs with insults, complaining that the entire line is hideous and over-priced.
So, what are the three factors that allowed this company to do what few other sneaker brands have done before?
1. A Boldly Distinct Look
First, we can safely say that there are very few sneaker lines in the history of the world that have taken such a bold approach to being unique. Most of the design looks normal until you get to the excessively bulky sole that protrudes backward from the heel. While it might seem over-the-top to some, it definitely provides the advantage of making the shoe impossible to miss.
The popular high-end retailer SSENSE says that Balenciaga sneakers have almost inexplicably climbed to the top of their best-selling list. That’s a notable achievement considering the fact that SSENSE carries more than 120 of the world’s most loved designer shoe brands.
2. Shoe vs Sneaker
There have been plenty of bloggers and sneakerheads trying to justify the high price of Balenciaga with different arguments, but the one that seems to make the most sense is the shoe vs sneaker debate. Balenciaga sneakers are actually crafted using shoe-making processes, which apparently cost much more to facilitate than standard sneaker-making processes.
One blog even used the shoe vs. sneaker comparison to explain the difference between a $1,000 pair of shoes and a $100 pair of sneakers. Regardless of whether any of this actually plays into Balenciaga’s bottom line, the masses of satisfied customers certainly seem to be okay with this explanation.
What’s in a Name?
Other than design and marketing, the brand name also seems to lend itself towards opulence. Let’s imagine for a moment that Balenciaga was called “Joe’s Sneakers.” Do any of us think that people would be lining up to pay $1,000 for Joe’s Sneakers? It’s possible but unlikely. Names of Italian, French, or other foreign origin tend to do better for luxury brands.
The name also gives the impression that fine craftsmanship is put into the shoe in Italy. While this is still true for much of the shoe’s components, some of the construction is being done in China to accommodate the global demand.
Being Part of a Wave
Ultimately, the ongoing success of Balenciaga may have nothing to do with esthetics, pricing, or even the fancy name. Instead, it seems that a slew of musicians and actors have become ambassadors for this brand, mentioning it relentlessly in songs and sporting the shoes in countless Instagram posts.
That kind of social suggestion is usually enough to create momentum for any upcoming designer brand, but the sheer luxuriousness of the name itself may also be helping to attract more surfers to this latest wave.