Is Balenciaga cancelled?

If we are being honest, Balenciaga isn’t usually my style, but I appreciate every fashion house for its heritage and history.   Balenciaga recently has been promoted incessantly by the Kardashian’s and for me that has cheapened the brand.  The Hourglass bag has also been the ‘it’ bag of 2021 and going into 2022 also making it very common and no longer desirable for me.  These are all my beliefs and feelings before the controversy, but since, I’m just glad I was never invested in the brand!

The new campaign that has been released has caused so much trouble that #cancelbalenciaga is the biggest trending hashtag this year! With people taking to TikTok to cut their bags and clothes and posting it to show how disgusted they are with the brand.  The question lies, was it a mistake? Or was it clever advertisement? Are people now talking about the brand more than ever?

The campaign included pictures featuring children holding teddy bears in bondage harnesses and costumes, which caused many to accuse the brand of condoning child exploitation and paedophilia.  This was enough to start the hash tag, but when you look deeper into it, it’s much worse than first meets the eye.  In another campaign that was released in November 2021, a handbag was photographed over copies of what appears to be court papers protecting against child pornography.  At the time this caused conspiracy theories and was a huge talking point which was very quickly heightened with the new campaign.  This has to be the most extreme shock factor advertisement that I have ever seen! Have they gone too far?

Graffiti on a Balenciaga store front

The creative director Demna Gvasalia hasn’t made any comment about the court papers but has apologised for the recent campaign on his Instagram.  “As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period.” The designer guaranteed steps will be taken to “avoid similar mistakes in the future” and protect children’s welfare.   The brand has also set up a fundraising page for protecting children in an attempt to make amends.

Kim Kardashian was forced to apologise for the brand as she is known for being its greater supporter, wearing it to lots of events and featuring it on their show.  “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns,” she wrote. Her statement went on to say she is currently re-evaluating her future relationship with the brand, “basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with.”

So where does this leave them and how did it get this far? 

When I look at the history of the brand, I feel very sad.  I think the brand should have held the creative director responsible, let him go and rebranded.  I think that would have been the only way to save the name. Designers become so obsessed with creating statements these days that they forget the beauty of the clothes and the craft that should be shown through adverts.  People only remember the impact of the campaign and the catwalk, they never remember the designs anymore.  I’ll be interested to see where Balenciaga go from here.


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