Balenciaga is in the eye of a storm after two of its recent ad campaigns were accused of “sexualising children”. Following this, the luxury fashion house issued an apology. It is also suing its production company, North Six Inc, for $25 million. A few pictures showed children posing with plush teddy bear bags with bondage-themed elements. In photos from another Balenciaga ad campaign, the company had photos that featured Supreme Court documents on a child pornography case.
Balenciaga has removed all the controversial photos and has issued a detailed apology on Instagram.
While taking full responsibility for the photographs and ads showing children with bondage-themed bags, Balenciaga pushed part of the blame of the second ad on a “third party”, evidently North Six Inc. This particular photoshoot used court papers from the 2008 Supreme Court case, United States v Williams, as props. In the final ruling of the case, the US Supreme Court has criminalised the pandering of child pornography. The ruling reiterated the constitutionality of the PROTECT Act. The PROTECT Act is a federal law that raised the punishment for sexual exploitation and other forms of child abuse.
In the apology posted on Instagram, Balenciaga said that they were assured by the “third parties” that the props used in the photoshoot were fake office documents. It attributed the inclusion of these documents in the photoshoot to “reckless negligence” and revealed that the company had filed a complaint regarding the same.
Kim Kardashian, one of Balenciaga’s ambassadors, said that she is outraged by the campaign and is current reevaluating her relationship with the brand. “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,” Kim wrote in a series of tweers.
I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened.— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) November 27, 2022
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.— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) November 27, 2022
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.— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) November 27, 2022
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 — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) November 28, 2022
Social media users are unhappy with Balenciaga’s apology with many alleging that the claim that they were in the dark about certain aspects including the Supreme Court documents being in the photographs is a farce. Some users have highlighted the multiple stages of approval in place for a campaign like this to pass as evidence of the company being forewarned about what they were doing.
It is time for OUTRAGE over BALENCIAGA!!! Of course, THEY KNEW about every detail of that ad campaign. It requires approval at multiple levels. Their $25M lawsuit against the photographer is theater. PASS ALONG THIS STORY!!! PROTEST BALENCIAGA!!!— Jessica Faith (@jfmaclean) November 26, 2022
Balenciaga has issued this statement. I’m sorry but you knew what you were doing when you did it. It was your full intention to do so. Taking it down and deleting it isn’t going to help you. You are disgusting, nasty, and not worth the money! You’re done! #cancelbalenciaga pic.twitter.com/wT7g9yNUj3— Steph 💞 (@Steph_1776) November 22, 2022
#CancelBalenciaga has been trending on Twitter with people expressing their outrage at the “disgusting” and “sick” imagery they propelled.
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