Earlier this week, Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing announced a collaboration between Balmain and H&M through his Instagram account, during the Billboard Awards in Las Vegas. This collection is both the result and start of a movement. The concept of high fashion brands for high street stores is not a new one. There seems to be a new high-low collection every season; from Lagerfeld to Wang, it's reasonable to say every major high fashion brand will have its spotlight in everyday retail. But what sets the Balmain collaboration apart is its publicity. Never before has social media played such a major role in a designer collaboration.
Social media has been making high fashion and celebrities ever more accessible to the everyday person, and the fact that Rousteing announced this major event through Instagram signifies social media's influence even more. Thanks to this new accessibility to the exclusive world of fame and fashion, the boundaries between the insiders and the outsiders are subsiding. The social hierarchies are diminishing. Things are changing and this time is a true renaissance in its own respect. Both ends of the spectrum are leveling out; the top is being brought down, but the bottom is rising towards the realm of the top, both sides ending up in a gray area somewhere in the middle, somewhere between famous and not.
For fashion houses, social media can act as a savior of sorts. I hate to say it, but before Rousteing, Balmain was just another Parisian fashion house - beautiful but not exactly distinguished. Olivier Rousteing brought a young spirit back to Balmain, a youth that can only be brought from one of its kind. Balmain, at least in design, has been thriving under Rousteing, and this has to be partly due to his distinctive use of social media. This shows designers, and the world, that brands can be turned around and, indeed, saved, all (or at least mostly) thanks to social media.
Because of Olivier Rousteing's hashtag abundance history, it was not surprising that this collaboration has its own custom tag: #HMBalmaination. The Balmain "army" is a term and tag Rousteing has used before for campaigns and shows, but the idea now is that the small, elite army will be turned into a nation. Balmain will become available to practically everyone (there's about 2,472 H&M stores worldwide), a huge step from the regular, small circle of elite. This hashtag allows average people to join in on what they've only witnessed from the social media accounts of their favorite celebrities. With the influence of social media, one can truly can create a nation.