Not three weeks into January, and the fashion world is already moving and shaking. This morning, Rhuigi Villaseñor, the founder and creative director of L.A.-based streetwear brand Rhude, was announced as the next creative director of Bally. It’s a big move for the 171-year-old Swiss company, which hasn’t named a new creative director in five years. Villaseñor succeeds Pablo Coppola, who helmed the brand from 2014 to 2017; in the interim, designs have been collectively led by its heads of footwear, accessories, and ready-to-wear.
“I entrust Rhuigi, a talented visionary, to continue evolving the contemporary relevance of our brand and accelerate growth while preserving Bally’s core values,” Bally CEO Nicolas Girotto said in a statement. “Having acutely followed Rhuigi’s ascent I am excited by how his natural creativity and energetic spirit have made him one of the industry’s greatest idea generators and community builders.”
But even more importantly for the clothes that will be created, Villaseñor lives and breathes luxury. He loves beautiful cars, killer watches, and Birkin bags. “I grew up having interest in all the things that I thought were luxurious because I’m coming from the perspective of an immigrant,” the designer, whose family emigrated to the States from the Philippines in 2001, told GQ last year. That perspective has always been a throughline for his process—in the fall, Rhude surprisingly partnered up with kitchenware brands Instant Pot, Corelle, and Pyrex for a capsule collection dedicated to Villaseñor’s mom, Teresita. Same goes for the new appointment. “As a brand that is very dear to my heart, Bally has been worn in my family from generation to generation, from my grandfather to myself,” the designer said in today’s statement. “I have always admired the Swiss approach to luxury, its discreet representation of excellence, and symbiotic openness and care for the environment.”
Rhuigi at the brand’s SS22 show in Los Angeles.
Compared to other luxury competitors, Bally has made a rocky transition into fashion’s Instagram age. (For whatever the numbers are worth, Bally currently has 568,000 followers on the platform, while Gucci and Louis Vuitton each have 47 million.) Bally, whose legacy is in leather shoes and accessories, is the last remaining major luxury name owned by JAB Holding Company, the German investment conglomerate owned by the Reimann family, which also holds stake in an array of global food enterprises including Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, and Pret a Manger. Appointing the designer behind a luxury streetwear brand inspired by old-school Americana, with a high-flying fan base that spans NBA tunnels, courtside seats, and concert arena stages, could be exactly the boost the European heritage brand is looking for.
High fashion’s top brass have really been settling into a “if you can’t beat them, join them” stance with streetwear over the last few years, so much so that Villaseñor at Bally isn’t even the only news on the docket today. French luxury conglomerate LVMH also announced that it was acquiring a minority stake in Aimé Leon Dore, the New York-based streetwear brand that is French in accent aigu only (the brand and its designer Teddy Santis were born in Queens, and the name is an amalgamation of the French word for love, Santis’s father’s name, Leon, and his own full name, Theodore) whose popularity has transcended local hype (see: the perpetual line in front of its Mulberry Street flagship) to the point where former President Bill Clinton recently, bafflingly, wore an ALD sweater in a video he posted to Twitter. Indeed, LVMH was early to the streetwear-appointee game, naming the late Off-White founder Virgil Abloh as Louis Vuitton’s men’s creative director back in 2018. Since then, the luxury group has appointed fellow pioneers to top positions elsewhere in their portfolio, including 1017 Alyx 9SM co-founder Matthew Williams at Givenchy in 2020, and A Bathing Ape co-founder Nigo—a mentor to Abloh and among the godfathers of the genre, so to speak—at Kenzo this past fall. News of the acquisition, GQ’s fashion critic Rachel Tashjian pointed out, arrives three months after LVMH heir and Tiffany exec Alexandre Arnault wore an ALD suit to an industry party. Between Rhude and ALD, two brands redefining American sportswear, there’ll certainly be more notable spottings to come.
Source by www.gq.com