No One Does Scandals Like Balenciaga

    During the latest months of 2022, high end fashion company Balenciaga has been faced with a momentous scandal involving child exploitation. Their holiday ad campaign dropped in November of 2022, and featured children holding scandalously dressed up teddy bear handbags; the bears were in bondage harnesses and costumes. Shortly after this campaign was publicized, conflict broke through on social media as our hyperwoke generation partook in the trending hashtag “#cancelBalenciaga” on Twitter and TikTok. The brand’s creative director, Demna, was blamed by the media for this pedophilia and explotitiation of children. Taking action on the situation, Balenciaga removed the advertising images on all platforms, and took to Instagram to address the scandal. The brand’s Instagram story statement read, “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.” The media, however, were not satisfied with this so called “apology” from the company, claiming that “if balenciaga took this matter so seriously they never would’ve published that campaign or come up with the concept in the first place.” It’s been declared that courting controversy is what Balenciaga does best, as Demna has built a reputation in recent years for an utterly unorthodox way of marketing.

         The teddy bears were not the only controversy that resulted from Balenciaga’s holiday campaign. The campaign was initially published by the luxury fashion house and was titled “Balenciaga Gift Shop”, on behalf  of the company’s spring/summer 2023 collection. This launch was released in two campaigns, one being the ill-suited teddy handbags, and the other presenting an “office” theme which featured a photo with a page from a Supreme Court ruling of United States v. Williams in the background. This ruling judged the promotion of child pornography illegal. Balenciaga then filed a $25 million lawsuit against North Six, Inc. and set designer of the office themed campaign, Nicholas Des Jardins. The lawsuit stated that the defendants included the Williams documents “without Balenciaga’s knowledge or authorization” and as a result of the “defendant’s misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision.” Of course, the media refuses to let another scandal from the controversial fashion company slide, and deemed the lawsuit as a way for Balenciaga to free themselves from blame. Set designer Nicholas Des Jardins’ agent, Gabriela Moussaieff, claims in a statement to the Washington Post that “everyone from Balenciaga was on the shoot and was present on every shot and worked on the edit of every image in post production” and that nothing that the documents in the campaign “were obtained from a prop house that were rental pieces used for photo shoots.” Consequently, the lawsuit has been dropped. 

         Many celebrities have since then taken to social media to speak on the Balenciaga scandal, some being well-known former supporters of the brand. Kim Kardashion, who has been vocally supporting the company prior, proclaimed on Instagram and Twitter stating, “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns.” She went on to say that she has been reexamining her relationship with the company in the future.

         Although it’s not the first time Balenciaga has caused severe controversy in the fashion world and to the media in general, their recent campaigns have left the brand in a continuous fallout. The Business of Fashion has already repealed their 2022 Global Voices Award that was originally offered to Demna, stating that it held “the safety of children in the highest regard.” The media plans to move past Balenciaga and the celebrities who still furthermore support the brand in an effort to hold them accountable for their poor marketing strategies.

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