Balenciaga inspired by Sanders

A model (left) in an outfit featuring a logo reminiscent of the emblem that United States Senator Bernie Sanders (above) used in his Cinderella campaign for the Democratic nomination.
A model (above) in an outfit featuring a logo reminiscent of the emblem that United States Senator Bernie Sanders used in his Cinderella campaign for the Democratic nomination.PHOTO: YOUTUBE
A model (left) in an outfit featuring a logo reminiscent of the emblem that United States Senator Bernie Sanders (above) used in his Cinderella campaign for the Democratic nomination.
A model in an outfit featuring a logo reminiscent of the emblem that United States Senator Bernie Sanders (above) used in his Cinderella campaign for the Democratic nomination.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • At Balenciaga's runway show during  Paris fashion week, designer Demna Gvasalia drew inspiration from an unlikely source: United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

Models emerged on Wednesday in clothes featuring logos reminiscent of the now-famous emblem he used in his Cinderella campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Three red and white waves (the original Sanders version had just two) underlined the Balenciaga name, complete with the year marked next to it, on such items as pins and jackets.

The final look had a giant scarf bearing the logo.

Most brands want to stay away from politics, fearful of any pushback that would label them partisan and draw the ire of angry crowds. This has been particularly true of late, following a vitriolic election and the inauguration this week of Republican Donald Trump. 

But Balenciaga, it seems, does not care.

Gvasalia's collection drew from corporate themes and office wear, using both its own name and the banner of parent company Kering on the clothes.

The Sanders "tribute" presents a certain level of irony, as the Vermont senator campaigned against opponent Hillary Clinton on a platform assailing corporate greed.

But then again, millions of Sanders supporters - who are still raw from his loss, revelations that the Democratic National Committee actively worked against him and a perceived lack of fair media coverage - include some target demographics for Balenciaga (read: urban, money to spare).

The benefit of going political may have clearly outweighed any cost.

It is impossible to stay totally out of current events, but Balenciaga seems to have found a creative way to hit on the global zeitgeist without alienating a chunk of its shoppers. It may have hit upon a strategy that other retailers could emulate as Mr Trump takes office.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'Balenciaga inspired by Sanders'. Print Edition | Subscribe