Louis Tomlinson x Balenciaga: "A Common Language"

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Louis Tomlinson is known for the strong online relationship he has with his fans. He regularly communicates with his Louies through Twitter, Instagram, and more. Louis has used social media to build an online community and culture for his fans. It comes as no surprise, then, that Balenciaga - one of the staple brands in his wardrobe - is designed by "one of the first designers to truly understand internet culture".

Demna Gvasalia began at Balenciaga in 2015 and ever since, he has been lauded as the "outlier fashion designer". He's the designer that sends platform clogs, designer Ikea bags, and triple-soled sneakers down his runways. His clothing gains attention as internet memes, but quickly turn into the season's hottest trends. In a world of excess and materialism, his work is known both for its meme-ability, and its playful irreverence.

 Louis Tomlinson meeting fans in a Balenciaga turtleneck.

Louis Tomlinson meeting fans in a Balenciaga turtleneck.

Louis has a particular penchant for collecting Balenciaga's speed-knit sneakers. They're the anti-shoe, essentially a pair of socks with soles. Though underestimated by fashion critics and bloggers alike, the sock sneaker became the defining footwear of 2017. It's been referenced in Top 40 tracks, memed across every networking site, and worn by countless celebrities.

This is a common theme for Balenciaga's stand-out items. Under Demna's direction, the decades-old fashion house is still somehow an underdog that comes out on top again and again with out-of-the-box pieces inspired by the internet and everyday life.

Louis typically sticks to Balenciaga's subtler menswear - clean lines and silhouettes. But almost every Balenciaga piece he wears contains a bit of Denma's trademark winking irony; an aside to those versed in current internet culture.

Louis has worn a Balenciaga hoodie from a collection that was inspired by Bernie Sanders' political campaign logo. It's no coincidence that Demna drew inspiration from Sanders, who was arguably the popular candidate among America's youth.

 Louis Tomlinson in a Balenciaga hoodie (pictured with collaborator Bebe Rexha)

Louis Tomlinson in a Balenciaga hoodie (pictured with collaborator Bebe Rexha)

In Amsterdam, Louis wore a sweatshirt emblazoned with "femme fatale" and 90s heavy metal iconography - a callback to the music that today's youth grew up with.

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Fans were even quick to spot the underlying meaning in a Balenciaga-designed "Homme" sweatshirt that Louis wore to a day of promo. "Homme", of course, is interestingly close to "Home" - the name of a fan-favorite One Direction song that Louis co-wrote.

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It seems intentional that Louis chooses to consistently wear clothing from a designer who's so ingratiated in internet culture. Just as Louis communicates with his fans through social media, his clothing sometimes feels like an extension of that communication.

Like Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, perhaps Louis employs "widely-understood pop cultural signals as a common language" in his clothing to subtly nod to the world around him. As a fan, it's fun to see that Louis' clothing often reflects the internet culture that Louies engage with every day.

Special thanks to the team at LT Fashion Archive for sourcing Louis' clothing.