Balenciaga launches ecommerce site: “It’s almost like a daily magazine now: it has to be really alive”

Ever since reading WWD’s article earlier in the week, I have been checking and rechecking the Balenciaga website. It has now relaunched. Working with Wednesday-London, Balenciaga has created a site that marries a high spec retail experience* with engaging brand history, including archive images and (soon to come) video.

The site looks beautiful: clean, serene and totally on brand with Nicolas Ghesquiere’s precision-perfect aesthetic. There are complete product ranges including runway ready-to-wear, accessories, fragrance and online exclusives. With an emphasis on quality, products are photographed in multiple ways and can be zoomed for close-up detail. As Ghesquiere told WWD, “It’s very serious. I love that as a perfectionist. I think it’s great to show how much we work on the quality.”

Not being an online shopper, I was keen to see the additional content. Low on text, high on imagery (no coincidence, we all know time-poor fashionistas prefer to ‘read’ pictures rather than words), Balenciaga promises more than 3000 pictures and 200 videos and as well as the now-standard (but no less compelling) behind-the-scenes videos of shoots and shows, Ghesquiere plans to commission exclusive videos from artists and photographers. The heritage images are gorgeous, including amazing illustrations and designers’ sketches from as far back as 1937. These really underscore the craft and history of the brand, something that does not often come across in most luxury heritage brand sites (or if they do, it’s usually disappointingly dry and corporate).

Things are getting very exciting now the major international brands are beefing up their etail operations. Interestingly, Dolce & Gabbana launched their etail site in the same week that they also go on sale at Netaporter and Mr Porter. Jean-Paul Gaultier has also relaunched its site this week. Alongside the site itself, Balenciaga plans to up its fan engagement with increased Twitter and Facebook activity. I can’t wait to see how it does this as Ghesquiere has admitted he uses the internet for research and information rather than social networking. Somehow I don’t see Ghesquiere becoming quite as prolific a tweeter as Stefano Gabbana but time will tell…

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*it’s currently equipped for ecommerce in the US, France and UK.