Currency talks: Kimye for Balmain
Today the world has been treated to yet another Kimye story, with Kim K sharing pics from the Balmain menswear campaign she stars in alongside hubby Kanye, on her instagram account. While waking up to a Kardashian story is something I (and the rest of the world) am now well accustomed to, this story is definitely a bit of a conversation starter for me, as it raises the question as to what exclusions apply to exclusivity in fashion these days? Traditionally, high end fashion houses (especially the european ones) have always operated on a level far above the rest of the world in a place were only a very select few people were welcome. This select few usually involved a handful of models, elegant movie stars and god like musicians while the rest of us looked on in admiration and aspiration. The houses held the power with their limited edition lines, custom made gowns and select clientele which allowed them to regularly say "Thanks but No thanks" to those who weren't quite the right brand fit, forcing these hanger-oners to take matters into their own hands (remember the Daniella Westbrook Burberry fiasco). But pretty quickly, this all appears to have changed thanks to social media and the worlds seemingly relentless hunger for pop culture.
It was not even 3 years ago that Kim & Kanye hooked up, and in that short amount of time we have all watched her transformation from the tacky velvet-sweat-pants-loving, hair extension queen to the designer dripping, couture wearing PFW front rower we now all know her as. Ironically though, 3-4 years ago I feel fairly certain that Kimmie would have most likely been very swiftly turned away from a Paris designer show, I can imagine seeing Kris Jenner quietly muzzled behind her while they were both shoved back into their white hummer and sent on their way, Vogue editors shaking their heads muttering in French. Today however, both Kim & Kris (and any other Kardash/Jenner relative) sit front row, wear only couture and now, we are being presented with a new campaign from Balmain (easily one of the world's most high end and exclusive labels) which features the Wests, obviously because they are such long term dear friends of designer Olivier Rousteing. I think they met about 3 weeks ago, or maybe it's 4 who can be sure.
Anyway so whats this all about? Well my fine friends, I can tell you it's all about Currentcy. 3-4 years ago, your value was still most likely your $$ worth while today your value is without a doubt your reach, which makes Kim K the Bill Gates in this new world order. These exclusive fashion houses have for their lifetime managed to remain comfortably in control & above the popular culture juggernaut, however this year they have succumbed, not because they want to but because they have to. Sadly, a main double page spread on the inner cover of Vogue just can't cut the cheese like a Kim K insta post. A shit hot groundbreaking RTW collection featuring new technologies and fabrications won't grab a headline like Kim K 'breaking the internet' with her butt, so it seems that some of these houses are adopting the 'If you cant beat em join em' philosophy.
But where does that leave these labels? Don'g get me wrong, I don't mind Kimye at all, in fact I appreciate Kim's sartorial growth but Balmain (to me) has always been my fav out-of-reach label, even more so than Chanel (which thanks to certain bloggers and a plethora or cheap knock offs has it's own branding battle to fight #cheap), so exclusive that even the exclusive peeps can't get at it, but now, while they may get a zillion regrams and their hashtag might trend for a day or so, long term, what will this new Kimye campaign do for the brands perception? Will it increase their sales by accessing a larger audience or will it lower their tone? It remains to be seen, but for me, the whole concept is a bit of an OFI (that's opportunity for improvement for those unaware). The shots on the other hand, are beautiful, massive kudos to lensman Mario Sorrenti...
All pics via Style.com