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August 30 2014

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Balenciaga: What’s China Got To Do With It?

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By now, Alexander Wang’s appointment at Balenciaga is old news, but the question of why he was chosen still has the industry buzzing. One argument runs that he’s got a hip young international following and that his contemporary-cool approach to dressing could prove an interesting new direction for the super-luxury brand. (His proven ability to create It bags doesn’t hurt, either.) Another, espoused by Suzy Menkes in the IHT and propelled by Karl Lagerfeld’s recent endorsement, puts the California-born Taiwanese designer’s roots in China at the center of the dialogue.

Should they be? Given luxury fashion’s rapidly expanding consumer base in China, it’s not surprising that many have gravitated toward the latter argument. But that it’s not surprising doesn’t mean that it’s especially logical or fair. Last night, PPR CEO and chairman François-Henri Pinault had his say, in an interview with CBS’ Rebecca Jarvis. “Alexander Wang is young and he has a very universal culture. He is American with Chinese roots. His family is based in Shanghai. He has a very strong talent not only when it comes to accessible product, but his talent could also be adapted for couture at Balenciaga,” he said. When asked if Wang’s family ties were a key factor, he responded with a definitive “No.” “It is a mixture of value that Alexander will bring. It was really [a matter of] let’s find the right talent, the right skills, the right profile for the reality of the brand.”

To see Alexander Wang’s Pre-Fall 2013 collection, new on Style.com today, click here.

Photo: Charles Eshelman / FilmMagic

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