Until recently, you could not open a fashion magazine without one or more pages being devoted to the Balenciaga brand. After a controversial ad campaign with teddy bear slavery, the Spanish fashion house is under fire and the brand is boycotted worldwide.
The world (fashion) was shocked on November 16 when Balenciaga launched its new spring campaign. Children play the main role in this. In their hands, they have a teddy bear, wrapped in a SM leather suit. The bear in this case acts as a bag.
According to the accompanying press release, the campaign, titled Game History, on “gifts people find and collect”. The designs for the new fashion line were inspired by this idea.
Even more dark details can be found out in the photos. People are also seen lying next to court documents, which are about a child pornography case. In addition, teddy bears have black eyes. This would be a reference to the biblical figure of Baal, a weather god to whom children sacrifice animals (and who looks a lot like the devil). A devil and other macabre figures can also be seen in the background.
The campaign was the subject of discussion on social media. The consensus is: this campaign cannot and must be removed as soon as possible. In a few days, more than 130,000 tweets about Balenciaga are posted. With the hashtag #boycottbalenciaga, people are calling for the brand to be blacklisted and have already bought Balenciaga’s throwaways. “This is a deliberate strategy to gain attention and controversy,” read one of the comments.
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The fashion house comes with one after a few days answer and takes the campaign offline. “We sincerely apologize. Our bags should not be shown to children,” the fashion house said in a statement.
The brand went even deeper into the dirt and even took legal action. According to Balenciaga, these photos should never have been taken. “We will take action against the party responsible for creating the photo series that allows these items to be included in the photo shoot,” the brand wrote.
This refers in particular to the court papers from the photographs. “We condemn any form of child abuse,” the company said. It is unclear how the photos managed to reach Balenciaga’s online channels.
Gabriele Galimberti, the campaign photographer in question, also made himself heard. He said the idea for the campaign did not come from him. “The only task I gave them was to take the concept to conceive in a picture. As is usual in the work of a photographer.”
nonetheless, he thinks the fuss is exaggerated. He speaks of a “lynching”. “This smear campaign is aimed at a completely wrong target and it distracts from the real problem, which is caused by real criminals.”
Then Kim Kardashian managed to stir things up further with a photo of her wearing Balenciaga boots. A striking choice, since the hashtag #boycottbalenciaga is trending at the moment. Her followers say the reality star has “sold her soul”.
The choice of brand is striking for another reason. Kardashian’s ex Ye recently saw her collaboration with the fashion brand fall apart. The rapper’s anti-Semitic statement was the reason for Balenciaga to cut ties. But now the fashion house itself has suffered a dent in its image, and the question is whether it can still be polished.