The French brand keeps making products that push all of social media’s buttons, and that serves the company very, very well.


Ah, Balenciaga: at it again. Pushing all those social media buttons and getting everyone het up to such an extent that they have just become complicit in making an item in the men’s collection a veritable phenomenon simply on the back of an Instagram post.

When will we stop swallowing the bait? One moment there’s a picture online, and the next it has spawned 1,000 memes — all of which lead back to the source, and all of which play right into the hands of the very canny designer Demna Gvasalia.

He understands as well as anyone how to ride the hype cycle and bend the free-floating and often indiscriminate desire of the digisphere to use fashion as target practice to his own advantage.

I am speaking, of course, of the T-shirt shirt, a menswear product from the Balenciaga Fall 2018 collection that is exactly what it sounds like: a cotton T-shirt twinned to a cotton button-up shirt in complementary colours that can be worn with the long-sleeved shirt draped on the front, or the T-shirt draped off the back.

It costs $1,290 and is currently available to order. It’s not quite two-for-one, but close. It’s in the same family as the Double Shirt (a short-sleeved button version with the long-sleeved one that costs $1,490)

And it has a sibling in the spring women’s collection (a version that costs $1,690 is sold out at the Balenciaga store online), though no one seems to have registered any outrage about that one yet.

In collection context, the T-shirt shirt could be seen as smart, pointed commentary on our conflicted relationship with the whole idea of smart casual dressing and obsession with becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg by shedding the corporate uniform.

But on its own in various Instagram posts, with a young man looking serious and pouty while draped in multiple empty sleeves, it went viral on tides of self-amused commentary about fashion’s ridiculousness.


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