Gone are the days where ‘futuristic fashion’ conjures silver space-age mini dresses and white gogo boots à la Austin Powers and Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey. For Demna Gvasalia, fashion’s future will look like the clothes we already own—but recontextualised. This idea of how humans will dress in the far future is a question designers have always enjoyed entertaining, but no speculation has felt as plausible as Gvasalia’s this spring/summer 2021 at Balenciaga.
The guiding light for this season’s virtual show was this very question of how we’ll be dressing in the year 2030—a not too distant future. He was interested in the clothes that we’ve owned for ages, literally. The shoes your dad claims are “older than you”; the college hoodie that saw you through multiple late nights; the oversized t-shirt that only sees the light of night when it’s bedtime; the garish recyclable shopping bag you got for free at the grocery store. These are the clothes that Gvasalia envisions us repurposing and re-wearing in a decade’s time.
Gender binaries were tossed out the window, too, with zero compliance with what we would normally deem womenswear or menswear. It’s not an unthinkable proposition. For all that the fashion industry is great at—creativity, experimentation and fantasy—lies a myriad of practices that could be challenged, reimagined and rebuilt. That’s exactly what Gvasalia did with Balenciaga’s clothes this season: according to a press release, 93.5 percent of the materials in this collection are either upcycled or certified sustainable, with the support of the Kering Group. Since his Vetements days, Gvasalia has long mastered the art of irony and kitsch, and this collection was a clear demonstration of that skill.