Balenciaga CEO: Why Alexander Wang Was the Right Man for the Job

While some in the fashion industry are wondering how Alexander Wang, who took the reigns at Balenciaga this week, will fill Nicholas Ghesquiere's very big shoes, Balenciaga CEO Isabelle Guichot said the 28-year-old designer's credentials are more than up to snuff. “We wanted someone with global thinking, a citizen of the world, and someone who could understand the digital world and the direction of fashion and retail tomorrow,” Guichot told WWD. “[Wang] had that global vision very early in his development.”
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While some in the fashion industry are wondering how Alexander Wang, who took the reigns at Balenciaga this week, will fill Nicholas Ghesquiere's very big shoes, Balenciaga CEO Isabelle Guichot said the 28-year-old designer's credentials are more than up to snuff. “We wanted someone with global thinking, a citizen of the world, and someone who could understand the digital world and the direction of fashion and retail tomorrow,” Guichot told WWD. “[Wang] had that global vision very early in his development.”
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

While some in the fashion industry are wondering how Alexander Wang, who took the reigns at Balenciaga this week, will fill Nicholas Ghesquiere's very big shoes, Balenciaga CEO Isabelle Guichot said the 28-year-old designer's credentials are more than up to snuff.

“We wanted someone with global thinking, a citizen of the world, and someone who could understand the digital world and the direction of fashion and retail tomorrow,” Guichot told WWD. “[Wang] had that global vision very early in his development.”

Indeed, Wang surprised some industry vets earlier this year when he announced plans to launch 14 new locations in Asia--with no plans for expansion in the USA, where he currently has only one store. It was probably a shrewd move--and perhaps helped win him the Balenciaga job.

According to Guichot, Wang's success as a designer not only in ready-to-wear but accessories also made him an attractive candidate, as did his curiosity about and appreciation for Balenciaga’s heritage.

"It will be a new vision; a new understanding of the brand," she told WWD. "The heritage of Balenciaga is so big. Just a part of it has been exploited, but obviously not all of it."

A new take on Balenciaga's archives is among some of the things we can expect from the brand under Wang's direction. Guichot told the trade, "‘Immediately,’ [Wang] said, ‘I want to see the archives. I want to understand the culture behind the brand.' He could have slept there almost."

As for what might change under Wang, Guichot said it's "too soon" to discuss, though she added,“[Wang] will bring his own language and vocabulary."

The main hope for Wang, however, is that he helps speed up the brand's expansion--and considering he's taken his brand from unknown capsule collection to one of New York's most important label in under seven years, Wang certainly seems up to task.

“We want Alexander to help us sustain the momentum, but also it will bring a new vision, a new understanding of the brand,” Guichot said.

As for what will happen to Wang's eponymous line, the 28-year-old will continue to design in NYC, travelling often to Paris for his new role at Balenciaga. "Designers are now nomadic people; He will be one of those nomads," Guichot said.