It's Official, Alexander Wang Is Leaving Balenciaga

Who’s up next?

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The next spring/summer 2016 collection will be Alexander Wang’s last for Balenciaga. The creative director is leaving the French fashion house, reported WWD this morning, halting rumours that began earlier this month when Balenciaga’s parent company Kering announced it was in talks over Wang’s contract. 

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The news is not that much of a surprise. Wang’s stewardship of the Balenciaga brand started in December 2012 when Nicolas Ghesquière left to take on Louis Vuitton. It was hoped that the cool kid of New York Fashion would be able to inject Balenciaga with something that even Ghesquière couldn’t give the brand – a kind of commercial street-sport, off-duty style that has long underpinned the success of Wang’s eponymous label. But during his less than three-year tenure at the storied French house, Wang struggled to give the brand either pioneering fashion or an identity that was easily distinguishable from his own hugely successful line. According to Business of Fashion, Balenciaga generated sales of £212 million in 2014, less than 3% of Kering’s total revenue.

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Above: Balenciaga AW15

Wang’s departure is another example of whether it is possible for a designer to straddle two important brands in today’s fast-paced luxury fashion world. With a collection to produce every six to eight weeks for both houses, plus accessories collections and all the requisite advertising campaigns to direct, and new stores to open, is there any wonder that Wang wanted to half his workload?

Above: Alexander Wang AW15

For that very reason, it is unlikely that Kering and Balenciaga will be looking for a star name with an established own-name label to replace Wang. Far more likely, is that they will look behind the scenes, inside their own design studios or that of rival luxury brands’ to find their new designer.

It is therefore much harder to predict who the next Balenciaga designer might be. But rest assured, he or she will most likely be unknown, someone along the lines of Alessandro Michele, the backroom designer who worked at Gucci for 12 years, before heading up the brand and turning Gucci’s fortune around

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