When SKIMS and Fendi teamed up to drop a mega-successful collaboration, I was sure we’d see Kim Kardashian wearing exclusively Fendi for the next few months. So when she started making appearances in head-to-toe Balenciaga at the same time? Something seemed amiss. At first, I thought she was campaigning for Balenciaga to be the next luxury collab partner for SKIMS, but her ties to the brand seemed deeper than that. Fendi must’ve been pissed, but Kim was Team Balenciaga—before and after things with Kanye West went sour.
With Kardashian’s Balenciaga era in full swing at the end of last year, she turned heads in several now-iconic outfits, from a wedding look at West’s Donda tour to her masked black ‘fit for the Met Gala (which she attended alongside the brand’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia). Everything in the mogul’s massive closet that wasn’t Balenciaga gathered dust as she embraced a new kind of sexy, one heavily reliant on form-fitting yet modest garments.
In October, a slew of monochrome pink Balenciaga looks bookended her hot-button SNL hosting gig—and at this point, fans started noticing that West, too, was wearing more and more Balenciaga. Half-jokes about the brand sponsoring their divorce flooded the fashion set’s social media pages, with many using it as a case study in branding, partnership and celebrity influence.
Kim and Kanye are characters, no doubt about it. But would they really work with a fashion brand to “sponsor” their divorce? Still, the bevy of Balenciaga looks kept coming, and their wardrobes were too cohesive to be coincidence.
Then, the couple’s breakup took a turn for the worst, with West regularly calling Kardashian out on social media, putting her on blast for her parenting skills and her rumored new relationship with (who else?) Pete Davidson. At this point, West made the semi-strange decision to find a new girlfriend to thrust into the spotlight, and decided on Julia Fox of Uncut Gems.
After meeting on New Years, Fox wrote an article for Interview detailing a New York City “date night,” complete with a signature West wardrobe upgrade.
West is occasionally credited for revamping Kardashian’s style during their relationship, so for him to gift Fox an entire wardrobe (on a third date!) is strangely not all that surprising. “Ye had an entire hotel suite full of clothes. It was every girl’s dream come true. It felt like a real Cinderella moment,” Fox told Interview.
After West signed off on her new look, Fox was spotted in a lot of Balenciaga—which, of course, only furthered the connection between the brand and the iconic couple’s breakup. What would be next, Pete Davidson as the brand’s new face?
Not quite. To no one’s surprise, Balenciaga announced Kardashian to be the new face of the brand—and after posting the announcement photo, the brand proceeded to wipe the rest of their Instagram clean. Perhaps the fresh start to their feed is symbolic of Kardashian’s fresh start sans West?
Just three days after the announcement, West has taken to Instagram to express frustrations regarding Kim allowing their daughter, North, to post on TikTok.
Balenciaga will likely never officially confirm or deny the sponsorship of West and Kardashian’s breakup, but the connections feel too obvious to ignore. The question is: Did doing so pay off? I’d argue yes.
The Le Cagole XS bag Kardashian poses with in the campaign is slated to replace their Hourglass bag as the next It Bag of 2022, and the brand’s former best-known handbag, the City Bag, is experiencing a secondhand revival, now the must-cop bag on sites like The RealReal, Rebag and more.
Bottom line? Kim and Kanye’s marriage might have ended in divorce, but it also ended in one of the most major (alleged) brand deals in fashion history.