Balenciaga is at the center of controversy following the release of a concerning campaign. While the luxury fashion house has since pulled the ad, consumers have been left troubled by the interpreted messaging.
In images released in support of the label’s spring 2023 collection, young children are seen posing with stuffed animals that are dressed in BDSM-style attire. Additionally, there are wine and beer glasses present alongside a kid in one shot.
The visual was quickly met with criticism, with social media users expressing their disappointment via Twitter. “Balenciaga is very much cancelled in my eyes, I don’t care what explanation they come up with. Don’t mess with children,” read one tweet.
A different critic expressed: “When Balenciaga hires you to shoot their new look book you show up to find a toddler laid across a sofa with wine glasses bondage gear arranged around them, you walk away. Period.” A third tweet read: “Wait, shouldn’t Balenciaga have their bank accounts closed, get banned on social media, stores temporarily shut down, and all celebrities condemn them first?”
Others pointed out that some ads allegedly even featured “very purposely poorly hidden court documents about ‘virtual child porn.’”
Balenciaga officially removed the campaign on Tuesday, November 22, and issued an apology. “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused,” read the statement, per CNN. “Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”
“I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been shocked and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns,” the Skims founder, 42, wrote via Twitter on Sunday, November 27. “But because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened.”
She continued: “As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period. 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.”
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