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Sunshine Partner with Balmain to launch their virtual Balmain Army

A Step Change at Balmain

Balmain and Sunshine began working together in November 2017, a moment that marked a step change for how the House wanted to behave under the newly appointed CMO, Txampi Diz and CEO Massimo Piombini.

"We don’t want to be the biggest, we want to be the smartest.
We want Balmain to be the intellectual and technological leaders in the industry."

Massimo Piombini, CEO Balmain

A Powerful Ambition

This was an inspiring and powerful brief for us as an agency, especially when coupled with Olivier Rousteing’s vision of ensuring Balmain is pushing the boundaries of how people can experience the House. He has a true commitment to making his world accessible, representative and inclusive; a world where anyone is welcome.

We’re at a moment in time where the level of technological advancement happening in the next 5 years, will have more of an impact on every single thing we do than in the last 50 years. Our digital worlds, profiles, behaviours and homes are becoming as important, if not more so, as our physical ones.

It is through this lens, together with Balmain, the opportunity to partner with the Virtual model Shudu and grow the Balmain Army virtually became an important, exciting and pioneering mission. A mission to ensure the virtual world, is just as representative as the physical world.

Leaning into the Fire

Shudu launched in early 2018, designed by Cameron James Wilson, to much controversy, debate and backlash. Much of this was around how appropriate her design was (she’s black, her designer is white) and whether virtual models would destroy the physical model industry.

For Sunshine and Balmain, the virtual world represents opportunity; opportunity for cultural progression and artistic expression.

Margot and Zhi were designed to complement Shudu, as artistic expressions of Olivier’s vision for a truly diverse word. Both paid homage to and were inspired by Olivier’s passion for the intersection of fashion and music.

The launch of the Balmain Virtual Army has continued to fuel the debate surrounding the use of virtual models, which as a brand is one of the most powerful places to be, especially to drive an agenda forward.

To date The Virtual Army has garnered Balmain €5.5M value of earned media and, importantly, added a powerful and poignant point of view to an important debate around diversity and representation.

This is just the beginning, the virtual world for Balmain will continue to grow and complement the physical women and men who make up The Balmain Army; a collective of people unified by a fearless spirit and open outlook.

View the exclusive article on Dazed.