Fashion has always drawn inspiration from the wider cultural landscape — in the words of Balenciaga artistic director, Demna, “music is a big part of my life and is an integral part of Balenciaga’s culture.” Demna created Balenciaga Music as an acknowledgement of this ongoing inspiration and to share his favorite artists and their influences.
The Balenciaga Music project has recently been expanded to give fans “a more personal and complete music experience” via exclusive content and interactive technology.
By scanning a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip embedded into limited edition Balenciaga Music merchandise, purchasers can access a track called “Patterns,” composed exclusively for the Balenciaga customer by English music outfit Archive. The interactive T-shirts and hoodies are also printed with Archive’s full discography.
In addition to the exclusive track, Archive have also curated a seven-hour playlist populating a new Balenciaga Music hub on balenciaga.com that links to multiple streaming services that can be accessed globally.
Earlier this year, LMVH Group house Dior linked its own NFC chip connected B33 sneakers to a “personal secure” Web3 platform where purchasers could access utilities and “dedicated services,” such as on-chain certificates of authenticity and information on the manufacturing process.
However, Kering owned Balenciaga has shunned Web3 tech, parking the project in the more established domain of Web2.
The Balenciaga initiative is a partnership with EON, a leader in Web2 digital ID technology which creates and manages the link between physical products and digital twins, hosted via its secure Product Cloud.
According to EON founder and CEO Natasha Franck, the experience enables “a direct and exclusive connection between physical products and the creative inspiration of art and music behind them.”
“This collection spotlights the infinite possibilities that the EON Product Cloud provides for brands to capitalize on products — going beyond product traceability to turn products into new media channels that enable brands to drive multiple transactions through singular product.”
The Balenciaga activation is enabled by the same kind of security technology brands use for traceability and authentication.
Notably, EON tech powers Chloé Vertical, an initiative from the Richemont brand that enables customers to access detailed traceability information about their products by scanning a QR code or NFC chip via their smartphone. It also connects shoppers directly to the secondary market through an ‘instant resale’ partnership with Vestiaire Collective.
While an on-chain aspect need not be more complicated for the consumer in that it can be deployed backend, in many cases it still creates a psychological barrier to entry. So if the desired outcome can be achieved without blockchain, it currently makes sense to use existing Web2 channels and meet the customer where they are.
In the early days of Vetements, the brand Demna founded with his brother Gurum Gvasalia almost 10 years ago, an installation for the fall 2015 collection featured audio recordings for each item which explained the story behind it. The intimate connection generated between listener and garment might well have been a precursor for Balenciaga Music.