IN DEMNA'S SHOES: BALENCIAGA'S FOOTWEAR EXPLAINED
It’s safe to say that Demna Gvasalia, now choosing to be known as ‘Demna’, has made quite an impact on fashion since his start at Balenciaga in 2015. In less than a decade, the Georgian designer has not only led a prestigious fashion house but streetwear culture itself with his avant-garde creations. This is most apparent in footwear as Balenciaga has been driving trends since the debut of their Triple S and Speed Trainers back in 2016. Many are quick to question Demna’s unique shoes, but every trainer, boot, and sandal has a story under its sole. Keep reading to learn more about your favourite Balenciaga footwear as GIULIO delves into the creative mind of Demna below.
The Track Trainer
First spotted in Balenciaga’s autumn/winter 2018 presentation, The Tracks follow Demna’s hallmark to elevate the functional as their caged shape and breathable Gore-Tex material derive inspiration from that of sturdy hiking shoes. The trainers may not have dominated our social feeds in the same way as The Speed in 2017 but their design was never meant to shock. As the world became desensitized to outrageous fashion trends, Demna refined his early sneakers to make silhouettes like The Tracks that whilst more practical, keep us excited.
The Cagole Boot
Sleek and covered in spikes, The Cagoles are the sharpest addition to the Balenciaga roster since Demna debuted them in summer 2022. These boots may be in their infancy, but they take inspiration from a Balenciaga bag that’s been around since the early noughties, The City Bag. Designed by Nicolas Ghesquière in 2001, its soft leather shape was respectfully reinterpreted by Demna two decades on to create Le Cagole Bag. Demna then decided a pair of matching boots was much needed, leading us to The Cagole Boot we see today with just as many studs, buckles and tassels as its predecessors.
Women's Cagole Leather Ankle Boots
|Women's Cagole 90mm Boots|
The Triple S Trainer
Also known as Balenciaga’s take on ‘Dad trainers’, The Triple S was impossible to ignore back in 2018 with influencers, celebrities, and probably your best mates all sporting their super-stacked soles. Despite this, The Triple S Trainer still attracted criticism but Demna was quick to defend them in a WWD interview stating “It was a proportional exercise of footwear, not any kind of a gimmicky play with what was ugly or not ugly in shoe design”. This explains their oversized silhouette and gives us a glimpse into Demna’s experimental, nonconforming mindset.
The Defender Trainer
Just when you thought Demna couldn’t create a chunkier trainer than The Triple S, he conjured up The Defenders in 2022 with tyre-like soles covered in studs. We can gather some insight into Demna’s design process with the help of the WWD interview in which he admits his preference for large footwear and how a blown-up sole can signify stability and masculinity, “oversize, it’s my territory” he declares “I definitely intend to defend what is my design territory.” As for The Defender’s similarity to military vehicles, we can assume that Demna’s interest in utilitarianism was behind it.
|Men's Mesh-Nylon Defender Trainers||Women's Mesh-Nylon Defender Trainers|
The Croc Sandal
We could not talk about Balenciaga’s footwear without mentioning their controversial collaborations with Crocs™. Demna first sent the polarizing platforms down his 2018 ready-to-wear runway to the disgust, confusion or excitement of Balenciaga’s front row. The reviews may have been mixed, but the reasoning for this questionable collab was Demna’s interest in moulding and rubber. In an interview with Vogue he explains that “these kinds of techniques and working with these kinds of materials is very Balenciaga” so whilst some may find his Croc Sandals absurd, they do reflect the brand’s boundary-breaking history.
The Speed Trainer
Now for a knitted shoe that really needs no introduction, Balenciaga’s Speed Trainer. Essentially socks mounted on rubber soles, the shoes were inescapable in 2017 and many still regard them as Demna’s most impactful moment at Balenciaga. Not much has been written on their design but we know from the time they were made that Demna was new to Balenciaga and wanted to make the couture house more appealing to streetwear fans. This was also the time when minimalism and athleisure trends were taking off which might explain The Speeds sleek yet sporty shape. Entirely new and proof that comfort and luxury could coincide, it’s no wonder the trainer’s gained the traction that they did.
Women's Speed 2.0 Knit Trainers
He may shy away from media attention which can make it hard to explain his avant-garde shoes, but Demna has always believed in their ability to attract a new generation of luxury fashion followers to Balenciaga. We’ll leave the designing to Demna but for a guide to Balenciaga’s sizing, check out GIULIO’s here.