“The Hacker Project” is possibly the most innovative designer cross-over that the fashion world has seen to date.
In recent months the fashion industry has seen various designer collaborations, from Fendi X Versace, Fendi X Skims, and more recent, Tiffany & Co X Supreme. However, Gucci and Balenciaga have taken the concept of collaboration a step further, creating “The Hacker Project”.
Andres Christian Madsen, British Vogue’s fashion critic, calls the project the “most bullet-proof merchandise of the social media-driven fashion era”, as the concept sees the two fashion houses take on each other’s classic designs, re-writing (or hacking) the metaphorical code, and making it their own.
In April 2021, after abandoning the conventional seasonal releases, creative director Alessandro Michele showcased Gucci’s first collection of the year titled “Gucci Aria”. The title in itself is an ironic nod to its association with Balenciaga, as the definition of aria is a solo in an opera.
“Gucci Aria”, along with new Gucci designs, presented the re-working of some of Balenciaga’s most notable designs. The white runway lined with flashing cameras saw Balenciaga’s iconic city bag made with Gucci’s infamous floral, and the classic beige GG patterns, 2018 Triple S sneakers, donning the GG pattern, and padded hip, hourglass blazers with both the GG and Balenciaga pattern.
Gucci’s Instagram account called the project a way of “exploring ideas of authenticity and appropriation within the fashion industry”.
Two months after the “Gucci Aria” showcase, Balenciaga released their Spring ’22 collection in which we were given an insight into Balenciaga’s take on “The Hacker Project”.
Creative director Demna Gvasalia takes Gucci’s signature beige, GG print canvas and redesigns it with a BB logo. We see Balenciaga embellish a Gucci tote with the words “THIS IS NOT A GUCCI BAG” spray-painted across it. Similarly, the popular monogram GG belt is seen instead with a gold BB.
What makes “The Hacker Project” unique to a collaboration is the fact that they did not advertise it as Gucci X Balenciaga, a singular collection. Instead, each house introduced the pieces by incorporating them into their collections on the runway. By doing this, it makes “The Hacker Project” not so much a unified collaboration but rather a statement.
If you look at Fendi X Skims for example; it was advertised as a collaboration. The two brands showcased the collection as a collection in itself as opposed to being incorporated into the Fendi or Skims SS22 line. The collaboration was then sold at www.fendiskim.com – again a collaborative site. If we contrast this to “The Hacker Project”, each house sold their re-worked pieces on their own sites.
In an industry where you may view other designers as your competition, and have a fear of being unoriginal, “The Hacker Project” takes this fear and flips it, creating not only a new kind of process of design but also a new way of collaborating.