The world’s hottest two brands are part of a collaborative initiative that saw the opening of temporary storefronts globally on Monday. In Canada, the highly anticipated Gucci x Balenciaga ‘Hacker Project’ includes a dedicated standalone store on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto open for two months, the takeover of the SSENSE store in Montreal, and distribution at two Holt Renfrew stores.
Globally, the Hacker Project includes 74 activations in major centres with a mix of standalone stores and shop-in-stores depending on the market. The pop-ups offer cross-branded ready-to-wear, shoes, bags and accessories — Balenciaga pieces were reinterpreted with Gucci ‘codes’ which is said to be a nod to counterfeit culture, branding and logomania. Signature silhouettes including Gucci’s ‘Jackie’ bag and Balenciaga’s ‘City’ were redesigned in a merging of monograms and prints, for example. We’re told that pieces are limited edition with some being numbered “X/250”.
In Toronto, the former Diesel retail space at 92 Yorkville Avenue (next to Chanel) was transformed over several days into a storefront with an illuminated Balenciaga logo and Gucci spray painted over the doors. On Sunday, the ‘Gucci’ doors had been vandalized with pink spray paint and everything had to be removed prior to the Monday opening. The space saw renovations to create the main-floor pop-up space which includes one side dedicated to the collaboration and the other housing new Balenciaga items. The Toronto storefront will remain open until January 15, 2022 we’re told. First Capital REIT owns 92 Yorkville Avenue as well as several other properties in the neighbourhood.
The Toronto store was able to secure a specific black “BB” monogram duffle bag, number one of only 250 according to a representative who spoke with Retail Insider.
In Montreal, the SSENSE store in Old Montreal saw a ‘takeover’ on Monday for the new Gucci x Balenciaga collection. Montreal-based SSENSE is considered to be one of the world’s leading upscale multi-brand retailers with a focus online as well as the Montreal multi-level storefront.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vancouver market did not get a splashy Gucci x Balenciaga pop-up despite robust sales for both brands in the city. The Hacker Project collection was launched at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, as well as at the Holt Renfrew store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
According to the Q3 2021 Lyst Index, Balenciaga was ranked as the world’s most popular brand while Gucci was ranked second. Balenciaga is having a fashion moment — the brand returned to haute couture after 53 years, launched a Fortnite collaboration, and teamed up with Kanye West on the launch of his Donda album. Recently the brand showcased its fashion collection in cartoon format at Paris Fashion Week via popular television program ‘The Simpsons’.
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