“MUSIC IS is a big part of my life and is an integral part of Balenciaga’s culture,” said Balenciaga artistic director Demna. Announcing his intentions behind the house’s newest side-venture: Balenciaga Music, Demna said the aim was to share his favourite musical artists “and their personal tastes and influences.” Expanding on these two creative loves, the newest collection from Balenciaga now comes with its exclusive soundtrack, a first for not just Balenciaga but a luxury fashion brand. 

The collection of hoodies and t-shirts is part of a collaborative merchandise drop with legendary British trip-hop group, Archive, and features the group’s 12 studio album discography and branding as design elements. Here’s where it gets interesting: each garment is equipped with a NFC (Near Field Communication) chip. When scanned, the chips unlock access to a new 8.5-minute song, ‘Patterns’, exclusively composed by Archive for Balenciaga Music, and a 7-hour playlist.

It’s important to note that ‘Patterns’ is encrypted, cannot be shared and is not available on any other streaming platform. It can only be accessed via this Balenciaga x Archive merch drop. The playlist, however, which is designed to be played on shuffle, is part of the new Balenciaga Music hub and can be found here and on major platforms, like Spotify and Apple Music.

This technology, known within the industry as a digital product passport (DDP), has the ability to be updated and tinkered with overtime, and so there’s plenty more room for further use cases—beyond the information around provenance or access to exclusive social media-style content, as we’ve seen in the past. Demna himself has hinted at his interest in the expansion of this technology and music: “We have now expanded this project to give a more personal and complete music experience with exclusive content and interactive technology,” he said.

Digitally enhancing physical goods so they can open up portals or have fresh digital identities is an interesting move within luxury specifically, as not only does it help with combating counterfeit items, but offers something really special and exclusive in exchange for a physical good. In a way, this is at odds with what we’ve seen in recent years, where purchasing a digital good offers access to a physical one, or even simply just a loyalty program. 

“Balenciaga has always stood for individuality and innovation, qualities that we’ve always tried to keep at the heart of Archive’s creative process, too,” said founding Archive member Darius Keeler—noting that Archive has never worked with a fashion brand before. “So, when the opportunity came along to collaborate on this exciting project, it seemed like a perfect fit. I think the track that we’ve created is something very special.”


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