Issue 4 out now!

Balenciaga’s alternative to the traditional fashion show is a streamable simulated experience. 

By Juno Kelly. 

This week, fashion juggernaut Balenciaga threw its hat in the ring in the competition over who can come up with the most innovative alternative to the historically indomitable real-life runway show.

Georgian Creative Director Demna Gvasalia’s offer? An interactive video game, set 10 years from now, in an apparently COVID-free world. The cybernetic experience, titled “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow,” consists of a virtual realm that pivots around the concept of human destiny, depicting a stark alternative to our current reality, complete with a commentary on fast fashion and the sheer magnitude of the environmental crisis, oh, and a hidden rave. 

Although Balenciaga’s approach has historically favored tangible, brick-and-mortar immersive experiences, including a runway surrounded by a moat, a faux Balenciaga parliament/assembly, and a ‘90s-esque snow mountain, Gvasalia has never shied away from technology. The brand’s FW18 offering saw high-tech computer-enabled tailoring for women and men, with bodies undergoing 3-D scanning, while their SS19 show saw a blitz of computer-generated imagery strewn across the stage, at the hands of a collaboration with technological existentialist, Jon Rafman.

A streamable video game showcasing the collection (made up largely of Alien-shaped anatomic sunglasses, NASA/PS5 logos, and asymmetrical construction) was therefore a natural progression for the brand, one that would quite possibly have occurred sanś the strain on in-person experiences inflicted by COVID-19. Balenciaga’s streetwear audience is very much a part of the internet generation. Gvasalia  evidently caught onto the fact that technology lies at the core of hype culture. 

Play the Balenciaga video game here: