French fashion house Balenciaga‘s recent advertising campaign has sparked criticism on social media over accusations that it featured inappropriate imagery involving children.
The label drew criticism in recent weeks over two separate online campaigns. The first was a campaign advertising a gift collection that launched last month. It featured a handbag in the form of a stuffed teddy bear in bondage-style straps that was held by children.
A second campaign was for the label’s Spring 2023 collection. It was set in an office and included papers featuring text from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling related to child pornography.
Amid the storm of criticism Balenciaga’s creative director and chief executive officer both have issued an apology.
“I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids,” creative director Demna Gvasalia, who goes by Demna, said in a message posted on Instagram.
Separately, the Kering-owned label issued a statement signed by CEO Cedric Charbit outlining new internal processes, including naming an “image board” to evaluate content.
In a statement issued earlier Balenciaga apologized and said that investigations into the ad campaigns were ongoing. It said the papers featuring the legal text on child pornography were props from a third party, and that it had filed a complaint against the inclusion of the “unapproved documents”.
Charbit however revealed that the label had decided not to pursue litigation.
“I want to personally reiterate my sincere apologies for the offense caused and take my responsibility,” said Charbit.
Consumers also bombarded some of Balenciaga’s partners, like adidas, and famous endorsers, including reality TV star Kim Kardashian, over their connections to the brand. Amid the backlash, Kim Kardashian has said she is “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand after she was left “shaken by the disturbing images”.