Did We Really Need $1,450 Balenciaga x Under Armour Hoodies?

Balenciaga released its collaboration with Under Armour. Who is it really for?

A $1,450 Balenciaga x Under Armour zip-up hoodie. via Balenciaga

Was Balenciaga x Under Armour really necessary? The short answer, “no.” The world did not need a $795 Under Armour T-shirt. But let us explain. 

Creative director Demna has established Balenciaga’s parody-fueled approach to luxury fashion for the better part of a decade for various projects. Marge Simpson walked down an animated runway in Balenciaga. Potato chip bags have been made of leather and turned into clutches. Crocs have been converted into heels. Demna has consistently taken the suburban lifestyle, the typical wardrobe of the everyman, and showed us that pretty much all of it can be “fashion” if you recontextualize it. Balenciaga collaborating with a sportswear brand like Under Armour almost feels like taking the joke one step too far.

Yes, Under Armour fits the bill for “suburbia core.” The Maryland-based brand may not be part of the style conversation the way competitors like Nike or Adidas are, but if you walk down the street, chances are you will see an Under Armour logo on someone. The kids that play on your local AAU baseball team probably yearn for the new color of UA hoodies as we do for a Supreme box logo. Stephen Curry, one of the biggest athletes on the planet, has an entire sub-label with the brand. It has a foothold in the sports market (shocking for a sportswear brand, right?), but it still isn’t actually all that cool. So who is this Balenciaga stuff really for? 

Items like the hoop earrings—3D versions of Under Armour's “UA” branding cast in silver—and belt buckles are semi-interesting because they’re things that Under Armour would never make on its own. Even so, an Under Armour customer isn’t going to buy that. They aren’t dropping $1,450 on a hoodie that they can buy for $70.

And Under Armour holds no weight in the fashion world, no matter how ironic some aggressively marked up T-shirts or silver earrings might be. Its uncool reputation is one it just can’t seem to shake, despite some one-off efforts over the years. Even ASAP Rocky couldn’t help. So what Balenciaga customer outside of Baltimore is going to make sure that some $1,200 Under Armour sweatpants are in their wardrobe? Irony can only go so far. It almost feels like Balenciaga is making a joke at Under Armour’s expense, but Under Armour thought it was being invited to the party. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Under Armour try to earn some cool points by working with a big name in fashion. In 2016, it tapped Belgian designer Tim Coppens to be the creative director of its lifestyle-friendly Under Armour Sportswear line. There was a collection with Palm Angels full of bright orange workout gear in 2019. Its short-lived partnership with ASAP Rocky resulted in a chunky sneaker inspired by the Osiris D3 in 2018. The conversations they started dissipated shortly after each respective release. This latest attempt aligning with a luxury fashion house like Balenciaga will likely be no different, aside from a few memes that hit the timeline, although Under Armour is probably hoping it will do a bit more than that.

Balenciaga has also already done this more effectively. In 2022, it released an entire sportswear collection with Adidas complete with tracksuits, Three Striped-takes on the Triple S sneaker, and hoodies embroidered with Trefoils.

One could argue that we didn’t need that collaboration either, but at least Adidas has the cultural cachet that might have enticed some people to buy it. Adidas tracksuits and Shelltoes have become organically entwined with fashion throughout history. Under Armour never has. Balenciaga and Adidas made a bit more sense. The Trefoil and Three Stripes are iconic logos. I just can’t see that same customer being excited to go buy a giant T-shirt with Under Armour’s interlocking “UA” on it. 

The Under Armour capsule, and Spring 2025 presentation in Shanghai that it was revealed in, is Balenciaga’s latest attempt to repair its reputation following the much-talked-about controversy centered around a 2022 campaign. Some people seem ready to move past the incident. Others aren’t so quick to forgive. But it does seem like Balenciaga is moving forward, business as usual, with its ironic takes on fashion and grand runway shows. And while it’s what many of us have come to expect, it goes against what Demna said the brand would be doing post-controversy back in February 2023. He told Vogue: “I will have a more mature and serious approach to everything I release as an idea or an image. I have decided to go back to my roots in fashion as well as to the roots of Balenciaga, which is making quality clothes – not making image or buzz.”

To Demna’s credit, some of the Spring 2025 collection leans this way. Suits are made playful through exaggerated proportions, but still wearable. A classic black leather trench coat is styled with sock sandals that give the look a more contemporary feel without relying on gimmick. Puffers slung over shoulders and transformed into large bags felt fun without being a joke for the sake of making one.

But then you see a platform sneaker so aggressive that it makes the Triple S look normal, hoodies that look like they raided the closet of someone addicted to Monster Energy, or a pair of skin-tight Under Armour pants and you’re reminded that some old habits are hard to break.

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