Balenciaga Is Premiering New Music Via Merch

LET THE MUSIC PLAY: Where there is new music, there is often merch — including chez Balenciaga.

Widening its Balenciaga Music project beyond playlists, the French brand has commissioned an exclusive track that’s only available via a near-field communication or NFC chip embedded into the tag of limited-edition T-shirts and hoodies. (The chip can be scanned with a smartphone to access the content.)

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“Patterns,” a new 8.5-minute track from English band Archive commissioned by Balenciaga, launched Monday. The associated clothes bear a minimalist A graphic on the front and, on the back, a list of Archive’s full discography. The group has released 12 studio albums spanning a variety of genres, including electronic, trip-hop, post-rock and progressive rock.

According to Balenciaga, Archive has never collaborated with a fashion brand, and the Paris-based fashion house has never premiered music via a product.

A T-shirt from the Balenciaga Music | Archive line of merch.
A T-shirt from the Balenciaga Music | Archive line of merch.

In tandem with the release comes a seven-hour playlist selected by Archive, and meant to be played on shuffle rather than a specific order. It can be found on Balenciaga’s website under a new music tab that links to multiple streaming services. There are tracks from the likes of Blur, Joy Division, Jane’s Addiction, Marvin Gaye, The Orb, Moderat and Missy Elliott.

According to Darius Keeler, a founding member of Archive, Balenciaga shares its yen for “individuality and innovation.”

Demna, Balenciaga’s artistic director, characterized music as a “big part of my life and an integral part of Balenciaga’s culture.”

He added that Balenciaga Music was created in 2020 to “share my favorite musical artists and their personal tastes and influences. We have now expanded this project to give a more personal and complete music experience with exclusive content and interactive technology.”

Balenciaga previously released playlists compiled by Demna, Rammstein, RuPaul, Aya Nakamura, Acid Arab, Pink Martini and Jay-Jay Johanson, usually in tandem with merch.

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