Recently, Balenciaga has faced widespread backlash over two separate ad campaigns featuring children.
In one of the ads for the company’s holiday collection, children posed with the brand’s teddy bear handbags—which appeared to be wearing bondage accessories including a fishnet shirt and leather harness.
As for the other campaign for its Spring 2023 collection, social media users noticed what appeared to be paperwork from United States v. Williams—the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that prohibited the pandering of child pornography—hidden behind a bag.
Last week, Balenciaga apologized for both campaigns.
“We sincerely apologize for any offence our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” the company shared via its Instagram Story on Tuesday, November 22.
“We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign,” they continued, referring to the other campaign.
“We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot. We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”
On Monday, Balenciaga—founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga—issued a second apology.
“We would like to address the controversies surrounding our recent ad campaigns. We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative,” the statement posted to their Instagram account read.
“The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”
The statement went on to say that its decision to include children holding toys with “BDSM-inspired outfits” was the “wrong choice.”
It also acknowledged it “could have done things differently” regarding its Spring 2023 campaign, confirming “a page” from United States v. Williams was featured “in the background.”
“All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents,” the brand explained, noting that the “inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint.”
Hostin, 54, shared her thoughts on all the controversy on Monday’s episode of The View, calling Balenciaga’s designs “distasteful.”
“Do you remember when Kim [Kardashian] was dressed in Balenciaga for the Met Gala?” Hostin asked, before an image of the The Kardashians star’s 2021 look popped up on the screen. “Look at that! She looked like a bat or something.”
“I don’t know what they’re doing. I don’t know if their intent is to be subversive and draw attention to the issues, or are they just making ugly things?”
She said: “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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