From GCDS’s One Piece two-piece to Balenciaga’s Simpsons merger; animation is having a moment.

By Juno Kelly.

Yesterday, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia (rarely one for a generic runway show) opened the brand’s Paris catwalk with a new 10-minute mini-episode of the Simpsons, whereby the usually dowdy family donned Balenciaga. “Walk a runway? It’s so superficial!” complained a dolled-up Lisa before prancing down the catwalk. Her dad Homer later followed in one of the brand’s staple red puffer jackets, while a cartoon Kim Kardashian, shielded in red lycra, looked on from the front row. 

The film was refreshingly self-eviscerating. It lightly mocked the brand’s high price point and wasn’t remotely precious in its showcasing of Balenciaga’s staple designs (see Homer’s jacket setting fire). The show was unsurprisingly a hit, and perhaps more importantly in the current climate, Instagramable (even if its reign on our feeds was stymied by the platform’s brief collapse). 

In a similar nod to the animated world, Italian brand GCDS collaborated with One Piece on its SS22 collection. One Piece is a wildly popular Toei Animation series now on its 994th episode, based on a manga comic series of the same title by Eiichiro Oda. The line consists of a tasseled two-piece featuring lead character Straw Hat Luffy’s face, a shirt with the mermaid Princess Shirahoshi brandished on the front, and myriad subtle references that the show’s infamously fanatic fanbase will likely appreciate. 

However, although Balenciaga and GCDS’s cartoon collaborations were undeniably clever, meshing cartoons with fashion is not a novel concept. Intentionally kitsch cartoon-themed T-shirts saw mass popularity in the ‘90s. And cartoons even had reigning moments in high fashion: the Blonds New York championed Disney Villians in their SS19 runway show, Jeremy Scott sent a model down the catwalk in a head-to-toe Spongebob ensemble for Moschino’s Fall ’14 offering,  Joyrich previously drew inspiration from The Simpsons, and Opening Ceremony Mickey Mouse

One can, however, argue that these collaborations were never as commercially savvy as Balenciaga and GCDS’s latest offerings. Balenciaga’s Simpsons episode saw Gvasalia’s avatar casting Springfield’s residents in a Paris catwalk to make Balenciaga more accessible. Having an episode of the popular show air alongside his usually exclusive real-life runway undoubtably had a similar effect. Meanwhile, the mutually beneficial partnership between One Piece and GCDS will likely see One Piece stans refreshing the brand’s website impatiently waiting for the collection to drop, while fashionistas may just load up an episode of Japan’s most famous anime.

Film and television have long held sway over fashion–an influence that has only strengthened alongside streaming platforms’ increasing ubiquity. However, unlike live-action shows where designers and fans mirror characters’ styles, animations allow for ample creative collaboration. We can only speculate what will come next. Perhaps Burberry meets Bob’s Burgers?


Images courtesy of GCDS and Balenciaga.