Balenciaga Releases Controversial Children's Fashion Campaign, Sparking Boycotts
By: CHARLOTTE JONES/ STAFF REPORTER
Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga has once again come under fire for a controversial campaign ad.
The current artistic director, Demna, has become a magnet for controversial campaigns and scandals since they took over in 2015.
From remaking IKEA’s 99-cent shopping bag as a luxury good, Crocs with heels, marketing and selling demolished sneakers for $1,850, dressing reality star Kim Kardashian in a head-to-toe black body stocking for the Met Gala, a canceled campaign that featured a painters book including child castration, to sending models portrayed as refugees down the runway carrying trash bags made of expensive leather, the company has attracted a lot of negative attention to say the least.
Due to their most recent campaigns, the question of whether Balenciaga condones child labor and the exploitation of children has arisen. The campaign called “Balenciaga Gift Shop” featured photos of children clutching teddy bears dressed in BDSM apparel.
Five days later, another campaign called the “Gardre-Robe” was released featuring background documents that included an excerpt from a 2008 United States Supreme Court Case regarding child pornography laws. The Garde-Robe also featured Nicole Kidman, Isabelle Huppert, and Bella Hadid as models.
The conjunct theme of the two campaigns has taken the media by storm. Right-wing Fox news host Tucker Carlson helped promote a QAnon theory that, “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media.”
On November 22, Tucker Carlson spoke out to his followers stating, “Here you have a major international retail brand promoting kiddie porn and sex with children,” Mr. Carlson told viewers on Nov. 22, “and not promoting it subtly but right out in the open.”
Celebrity stars are quickly ditching their Balenciaga apparel as well as distancing themselves from the company. AnnaLynne McCord, who played Naomi on the hit tv show 90210, took to protesting outside Balenciaga’s Rodeo Drive store on Saturday Dec. 3.
Brittany Aldean, the American Idol alum, took to Instagram where she captioned a photo of her with trash bags full of Balenciaga apparel “It’s trash day @Balenciaga.”
Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Lauren Burnham, Bachelor Nation alumni, uploaded a joint Instagram video depicting them setting their Balenciaga shoes on fire with the caption of, “Won't miss ya.”
Kim Kardashian, who notably wore Balenciaga to the 2021 Met Gala, addressed the scandal as well. She tweeted, “I appreciate Balenciaga's removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again.”
In another post, she writes, “As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — and the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.”
Kim spoke about how as a mother of four children the images were, “deeply disturbing.” She believes in protecting children at all costs and that this ad crossed the line.
Balenciaga released two apologies over the campaigns following the backlash, as well as removing them from their website. The company issued another statement saying "our plush bear bags and the Gift Collection should not have been featured with children," and that all the items used as props in the second ad shoot were "provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents."
The brand also issued a lawsuit summons to the production company, North Six, and set designer, Nicholas Des Jardins, for their part in the creation of the second ad. According to the lawsuit, Balenciaga says North Six included documents in the campaign "without Balenciaga's knowledge or authorization." The company will be seeking $25 million in damages.