BALENCIAGA

“Balenciaga’s SoHo Strategy”

Company History
Balenciaga is a fashion house founded by Cristobal Balenciaga, a Spanish designer born in the Basque Country, Spain. He had a reputation as a couturier of uncompromising standards and was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior. His bubble skirts and unique, feminine ultra-modern shapes were trademarks of the house. The House of Balenciaga is now owned by the French multinational company Kering. Balenciaga’s current creative director is Alexander Wang.

The Challenge
Balenciaga opened its first store outside of Paris in 2003 in the Chelsea gallery district neighborhood of New York City. Since then the Chelsea boutique has built a following and a multi-million dollar business of quite a significant size for a “destination” store. As part of the global retail strategy of the company, in 2011 Balenciaga signed a lease for a second location in Manhattan set to open on Mercer Street in November 2013. A team of MBA students from Columbia Business School worked with trans-disciplinary students from Parsons New School for Design to develop an effective launch strategy for the new Balenciaga Mercer Street boutique.

“SoHo Le Dix Events Strategy”
The team sought to develop a launch strategy that was entirely new and different – something that had never been done before. But, they also wanted to remain true to Balenciaga’s positioning and create concepts that spoke to the codes of the house. They began by researching the history of the Balenciaga brand, competitor marketing campaigns and recent store openings, parallel industry trends, and new creative directors at various fashion houses. Furthermore, the team wanted to do something that would appeal to and engage the five personas that currently interacted with the brand.

After weeks of due diligence and ideation, the team devised an ambitious launch strategy based on Balenciaga’s rich heritage. The final strategy incorporated the following concepts:

  • Art installations – marble designs projected on to bare walls across SoHo would begin appearing 10 days before the boutique opening.
  • Street net – a light projected diamond lattice street net connects the women’s and men’s boutiques.
  • Engraving – every guest at the launch party creates a custom engraved Le Dix bag tag.
  • Ten videos – videos featuring Balenciaga product and brand codes appear one at a time, every week on a Balenciaga.com sub-site for ten weeks after the boutique opening.

The Team
Anna Bajenov, Parsons New School for Design, Strategic Design & Management
Abbas Jamali, Parsons New School for Design, Strategic Design & Management
Phillip Wyatt, Parsons New School for Design, Integrated Design
Amy Xiaotian Zhang, Parsons New School for Design, Fashion Design & Society
Ijeoma Arum, Columbia Business School, Retail & Management
Melissa Foo, Columbia Business School, Marketing & Entrepreneurship,
Sara Huneke, Columbia Business School, Retail & Marketing
Matt Wilkes, Columbia Business School, Retail & Marketing