Monday saw several customers mistakenly believe they were in Gucci when they entered the Balenciaga store at Madison Avenue. Their mistake was understandable: The front window appeared to have been spray-painted with the word “Gucci.”
Faux vandalism was a result of the second installment to the Hacker Project series. Items were dropped at 74 Balenciaga addresses.
The drop looked like Gucci had opened an accessory pop-up in the Balenciaga shop at first glance. The bags, hats, scarves and wallets mimicked Gucci’s tone-on-tone patterns and signature green and red stripe.
But on closer inspection, they were patterned not with Gucci G’s but with Balenciaga B’s. An even closer look revealed that the metal clasp is identical to a Gucci bag, apart from its engraving that reads: “Balenciaga.”
If this is confusing, it’s meant to be. The Hacker Project was created by Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele to pose questions about luxury, authenticity and inspiration.
It is both simple and difficult to explain. The artist Jack Greer was on hand to customize shopping bags with “THIS IS NOT A GUCCI BAG” in a drippy graffiti font. For customers who wanted a bag with less Magritte and more of themselves, Mr. Greer was also tagging bags with “THIS IS [your name’s] BAG.”
In the first few hours of opening, business was steady. There were tourists, Balenciaga enthusiasts, and private couriers who flocked in and out the store. Some fans rejoiced, some shoppers scratched their heads, and several security guards who worked in the neighborhood stopped to make sure the store window hadn’t actually been vandalized.
Name: Ryan Lee
Lives in Washington, D.C.
Tell me about your kicks.
They’re Jordan Fours. I was an assistant manager at Finish Line. It turned me into a hypebeast. It got me into shoes, culture, and everything.
Is that a Gucci bag you’re carrying?
It’s a Louis bag, actually. It’s a graduation present I bought for myself. I just got my job at the University of Virginia this week after I graduated from University of Virginia in May.
What’s your job?
Economic research. To celebrate, I bought the scarf as well as a card holder.
Name: Luis Najera
Lives in Miami via Mexico City.
You’re obviously a Gucci fan with your frames.
I am. Alessandro Michele did a great job. And now they’re doing this collaboration with Balenciaga, I think it’s the best collaboration that they’ve done so far. The monogram is extraordinary. I’m going to go to Gucci now.
Are you a fashion designer?
Yamamoto design is my employer.
Tell me about your jacket.
My Commes des Garçons jacket? This collaboration also includes a brand from the U.K.
Name: Carlyn Powell
Occupation: Education administrator
Lives in Long Island
Could we take your photograph?
My Uber’s coming in one minute, but sure.
What did you think about the collaboration?
I’m loving this hacker thing. Being from New York, as soon as I saw the graffiti I was like, “That’s so New York.” And merging the two houses is so smooth.
So you don’t think the graffiti is a blight?
It’s my favorite thing. Inside, they had a man writing graffiti on the bags. It’s such a dare to do it because when it comes to our bags, we don’t want to get a mark or anything on it. But, again, it’s the graffiti that grabs me.
You are going where in this Uber
I’m heading to Penn Station and then back out to the island. But he’s still a minute away. He must be seeing the light.
Name: Nick Collins
Lives in Hell’s Kitchen
Did you rhinestone these pants?
These are not Y/Project.
I’ve been really abusing them because I can’t get over how obsessed I am with them.
Did anything in the store appeal?
I’m a stylist, so I just came to see what they had available. I’m in stores Monday through Friday all day. I see everything, so I’m kind of numb to luxury retail at this point.
What are you looking for when you’re in stores?
Our clients are looking for less widely available items — limited-edition watches, jewelry, exotic handbags. I work for a private shopping company that is based in the Middle East.
Are your clients mostly from the Middle East?
No, we’ve been operating for almost seven years so we have clients all over the world now.
Can you tell us what the name is of your company?
I can’t. Sorry.
Name: Miles DeNiro
Lives in Harlem
Let me know about the baby Balenciaga bag that you wear around your neck.
This is an ode to the old Cristóbal Balenciaga designs and the silhouettes he used to create. So it’s got history, it’s cute, but it’s too small. What can you put inside this? Literally, it’s got keys in here.
What’s this shrug you’re wearing?
A dead rabbit. I don’t know. This Ralph Lauren leather coat is vintage.
What will you do next?
Terrorizing Bergdorf. I want to scare the old ladies.
Name: Shawn Lovejoy
Occupation: See below
Lives in The Lower East Side
What brought you to Balenciaga?
I’m looking for boots. ’Tis the season. I wanted something with a little bit of funk, chunk, and heft. They make things that look like they could take down Tokyo in them.
Where are you going to go next?
I had already looked everywhere else. I could tell you where they are, but it’s a long list.
You found Prada too eccentric?
Yes, Lego blocks too.
What are you doing for a living?
It’s my last day at my job. For the last 10 years I’ve been working as a product and packaging designer for Tom Ford Beauty.
And now, what?
Sabbatical. Recenter, rebalance, refresh.
Name: Patrick Pierre
Occupation: Online marketer
Lives in Portland, Ore.
Did you carry that fanny bag?
Yes, I did.
So what’d you get?
We were sent the black and white Balenci socks. I really went in to try on the sky blue Triple S’s because I wanted to see how they felt. I’m going to buy them in a month. I’m going to budget them out.
What was your thought on the “hack?”
To be honest with you, I didn’t even notice it. My focus was on those sky blue Triple S’s. That is what I call hot.
What’s good about them?
My mentality when I arrived here was to get the speed trainers. I was standing in a postal office when I noticed a woman in speed trainers. She explained that speed trainers are a good choice for her because she is from New York. But if I’m from Portland, where it rains all the time, it’s better to go with the Triple S’s.
Name: Mikhaele Ible
Occupation: Account executive
Lives in East New York
What’s the reaction been wearing the YZY GAP puffer?
Everyone’s asking questions. They want to know if it’s warm, when you got it, that kind of stuff.
When did you get it?
It was last week.
Are you a “hypebeast”?
I don’t think so. You can’t tell because I’m wearing Kanye. But if it’s not Kanye, I don’t care for it.
What do you think about Kanye?
I like what he stands for: Freethinker, against the grain, truth-telling, even if it means you lose your freedom.
Are you planning to visit Wyoming like he did.
Name: Vincent Jackson
Lives in Los Angeles
Name: Nicole Robinson
Lives in Los Angeles
So you didn’t know anything about the collaboration?
N.R.: No, we were just walking by, and we thought someone had actually sprayed “Gucci” on their store.
V.J.: I was like, “They’re really wilding out here in New York.”
What brought your to New York?
N.R.: We came here for a friend’s birthday party. We’re leaving today.
You didn’t buy anything at Balenciaga?
N.R.: No, I’m not a fan yet. I’m trying to find the Louis store.
Name: Lamart “LJ” James
Lives in Uptown Manhattan
What brought you to Balenciaga?
I do messenger work. They sent me to the wrong place. I’ve got to go around the corner.
Did you have a chance to look at anything?
It’s not true. I was going to look at the Gucci/Balenciaga stuff, but I’m working right now.
Tell me about your mask.
This mask is great. It was actually made by the screen printer for Billionaire Boys Club.
What’s this jacket? I love it.
Zara made this jacket. Just like a canvas, paint-splattered-all-over-the-place jacket.
Source: NY Times