Did Balenciaga Achieve Perfection with the Track 2?

Superturf Sneakers


Balenciaga is no stranger to controversial design. If you’re looking for fashion that packs shock and awe, few have mastered the craft quite like Demna – $1.8K trash bags? Platform Crocs? Denim Pants-Tops? And that’s barely scratching the surface.

While Balenciaga apparel takes the cake where these boundary-testing designs are concerned, it’s certainly made a habit of crafting divisive footwear. Season-to-season, the brand gives less of a fuck, offering up sneakers, shoes, and boots that split wigs or demand a cult; few, however, have been quite as masterful as the Track 2.0.

For me, Balenciaga footwear begins during Wang’s short tenure at the house’s helm. Back then, 2013-15 specifically, it was the original Race Runner silhouette that dominated the market. You’d be hard-pressed to move across London’s highstreets or boujee restaurant and bar locations without spotting countless pairs of the characteristical mesh and neoprene sneakers.

They had a good run as an alternative for Valentino’s Rockrunner, but in retrospect, especially when you consider the sneakers designed under Demna’s reign, this was a pretty generic, bland sneaker.

Once the house changed house, its sneaker offering was to undergo a drastic makeover.

The first real head-spinner landed in the form of the super chunky, stacked Triple S in 2017, which combined molds from three different sports; running, basketball, and track & field. There’s no denying that the design was furiously over the top, and even in today’s market remains as such, but it showed that Balenciaga was willing to take risks under Demna, and these risks paid off.

Despite those that fell on the side of confusion and disdain towards the silhouette, it quickly rose to cult status in high-fashion and hip-hop circles, becoming an era-defining design.

What followed in 2018, however, was the beginning of Demna’s perfected take on Balenciaga footwear. This, of course, was the arrival of the first iteration of the Track. Conceived as a balance of hiking and athletic inspiration, this arrived in line with the industry’s growing fascination with Gorpcore, making it an instant hit.

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The sneaker showed great potential yet still looked somewhat elementary. Any kinks that remained would soon be ironed out with the arrival of Track 2.0, which saw the silhouette’s fabrication, shape, and unmistakable chunky sole refined and elevated.

Much like the Triple S, the Track 2.0 was adopted across the board. Once again, you didn’t only find the silhouette amongst celebrity, high-fashion, and streetwear circles, but littered in high frequency across major city streets.

Leaning closer to a design more aligned with ASICS’ archive (a cherry-picking that many have criticized Balenciaga for), the silhouette felt distinctly more athletic than hike, which resulted in a far more luxurious finish than its debut model.

Clearly, it remains a success as it remains online and in-store at Balenciaga, as well as luxury retailers like FLANNELS, on a seasonless basis, with new colorways regularly introduced.

Where I saw the potential for improvement in the first Track, I feel that the silhouette reached its absolute peak with Track 2.0. These feelings were only emphasized with the arrival of the third in the trilogy, which stripped the sneaker of its iconic layers and open-air portions in place of a somewhat minimal mesh upper.

Compared to the first two iterations of Track, this design lacked the drama that Balenciaga sneakers are known for (you need only look at the Defender, X-Pander, or Drive), cementing the 2.0 as the best of the series.

While the house’s sneaker success has continued with the Runner, which once again seems to lean into some ASICS inspiration, it doesn’t quite match the fine-tuned perfection achieved with the Track 2.0.





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