A week and a half ago it was confirmed that Alexander Wang will be stepping down as creative director at Balenciaga, after having directed since December 2012 after his predecessor Nicolas Ghesquière left for Louis Vuitton.
The report sent out on July 31 by French consortium Kering, owner of Balenciaga, only confirmed what had begun as a series of rumors that were later corroborated by the North American magazine Women’s Wear Daily, just days before the official accouncement.
After it happened, both parties took action. The North American designer opened his flagship in London, located on Albermale Street (Mayfair), one of his largest stores to date; while the fashion house accounced the search for a successor, and the balance is tipping in favor of selecting an existing member of the maison.
There has been much speculation regarding the motives behind the designer not renewing his contract with the fashion house, but the most popular is the tight schedule of Alexander Wang, who manages his own line and secondary line T by Alexander Wang, and it is said that the search for an investor in his firm has been reduced to one.
It’s possible that this event could be seen as significant for many in this moment, and how could it not be, if this calls into question the strategy employed by some fashion houses when they hire talented, well-known designers (in some cases, creators of their own lines) as members of their team.
In contrast to this stategum we can find its opposite, in which they opt to promote a member from inside the firm, not very well-known in the industry but highly familiar with the brand’s philosophy and who has sufficient experience to be able to manage it and bring it to the next level. The most clear example of this tactic can be found in two brands belonging to the French consortium: Balenciaga (Alexander Wang) and Gucci (Alessandro Michele). If both have successfully benefitted their respective houses in different aspects, with regard to earnings, the difference is clear.
Could it be that the future of fashion houses will depend on what has come to be known as the Michele effect? In which a member of the company, with deep knowledge of the firm, can inject something new into the brand and take it to the next level. Or will everything depend on the selection of a well-known designer capable of adhering to the identity of a fashion house, carrying it to new heights without completely filling it with their personality and at the same time they are in charge of their own firm, without generating confusion between the collections they produce for both, finding a balance between them? Will the future faces of the high couture fashion houses be able to maintain their legacy and be up to par with the demands and tastes of the consumers in this very changeable society?