EXCLUSIVE: Balmain Launches Collaboration With Maluma

What started as a custom, codesigned tour wardrobe for shows that have since been rescheduled has turned into a full-fledged partnership. Balmain and Maluma have unveiled a limited-edition collaboration comprised of ready-to-wear clothing and sneakers, available starting today, inspired by “Miami Vice,” the Latin superstar’s love of color and “optimistic” fashion choices and Olivier Rousteing’s passion for music.

“For me, fashion could never exist without music,” said Rousteing. “So he was just the perfect match.”

On a Zoom call from his Paris office, dressed in a hoodie and baseball hat, Rousteing explained that Maluma’s music has long been one of his go-tos for dancing. They met four years ago during Paris Fashion Week, and finally worked together for the first time last summer, on Maluma’s look for the MTV VMAs.

“From that, we just exchanged texts and were like, ‘Why don’t we work together? Because your aesthetic and your vision of music can really combine with my fashion world,’” Rousteing said.

As part of the collaboration, Rousteing has put together a playlist available on Apple Music. Throughout the design process, which involved many WhatsApp messages between the singer and the designer as well as fabric samples being sent between the French atelier and Colombia, where Maluma was for part of the pandemic, Rousteing of course listened to lots of “Papi Juancho,” Maluma’s most recent album; a favorite being “Hawài,” featuring The Weeknd.

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“Working with Olivier and the entire Balmain team was an amazing creative journey for me,” Maluma told WWD in an email. “It’s been one of my goals to work with a respected fashion house on a collection, but this journey was more exciting as Olivier pushed me to design with him, and that process was like making music — connecting the dots to create an energy for the fans. The colors and styles of this collaboration were influenced by my fifth album ‘Papi Juancho,’ which had an edgy style influenced by the ‘Miami Vice’ vibe. Colors and comfort when I made this album during the pandemic was extremely important to me because I couldn’t be on tour at the time to perform my songs, but I wanted colors to give them great energy.”

Maluma wears his line with Balmain. Courtesy of Phraa

Rousteing said he was interested in working on something that would initially seem outside of the luxury French purview of Balmain.

“I know that sometimes in the typical fashion world, when you say French or luxury, sometimes it feels like, ‘do you want to bring music to that kind of French house that is from 1945?’ And, I think the reason why I did that is because basically the house is so French, and so from 1945, that for me is such an important moment to be at Balmain as a witness of the time,” he said. “Maluma, more than him being an incredible singer, I think he’s bringing a lot to the fashion community with his joy and his happiness and the fact that he’s always playing his style from different kinds of houses from around the world, mixing different cultures as well. So I think for Balmain, which is a French brand from Paris, I think the collaboration with Maluma is obviously giving to Balmain and pushing the aesthetic more internationally.”

Though having only visited Miami roughly twice in his life, Rousteing grew up “obsessed” by the oversized tailoring in “Miami Vice” and by the glamour of the city in the 1980s. The collection skews casual, with printed T-shirts in bright neon colors, a hoodie, a track jacket, a pair of sneakers, a pin-striped blazer with matching drawstring bottoms and a black-and-white striped shirt and short set.

“I love obviously black-and-white stripes because it reminds me of that ‘Miami Vice’ feeling. And the striped T-shirts and shorts are obviously what I’m wearing all summer,” he said.

Rousteing said he was drawn to Maluma’s embrace of playing with fashion, something more often found in women collaborators than men.

“Maluma is one of the few men that I worked with that when you talk about bright colors, he would never say ‘no,’ because he loves that because it’s part of his aesthetic and this is something really enjoyable for a designer,” he said.

He is open to more collaborations down the line, and sees them as ways to modernize Balmain, something he said has been part of his mission since starting at the house a decade ago.

“As a kid, I didn’t know the name of Balmain. So I want my little cousin who is 10 years old to grow up thinking Balmain is one of the biggest French houses. Thanks to music, I can make the new generation know the name of Balmain,” Rousteing said. “So I think it’s really important because music has such an incredible reach demographically, of crowd and strong community, that this is the key of the success of many fashion houses to bring the name to different generations and not just being close to Avenue Montaigne.”

Maluma wears his line with Balmain. Courtesy of Phraa

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