Balenciaga blames production company for controversial ad

Balenciaga blames production company for controversial ad

The luxury fashion brand says it plans to sue the production company for $25-million (R424-million). 

Kim Kardashian for Balenciaga
Kim Kardashian for Balenciaga/ Instagram (@kimkardashian)

Balenciaga has apologised for two controversial ads making headlines around the world and plans to take action to prevent something similar from happening again. 

The popular designer brand came under fire in recent weeks after sharing a clothing ad that showed children carrying teddy bears that appeared to be wearing BDSM-style bondage attire. 

Another ad was also thrust into the spotlight when eagle-eyed online users spotted court documents in the background that reference a child pornography case. 

The French-owned luxury brand issued a second apology on Monday.

"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 company said. 

Balenciaga added that both campaigns "reflect a series of grievous errors" for which it takes responsibility.

"The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what some have labelled BDSM-inspired outfits. Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been featured with children. This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone." 

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Balenciaga also addressed the controversy surrounding the second ad that featured documents from the Supreme Court ruling 'United States V. Williams' 2008

"All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents. They turned out to be [real] papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama. The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint."

The company says it takes "full accountability" for its "lack of oversight and control". It has vowed to put new measures in place to ensure better validation steps during the creative process. 

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Balenciaga is also taking legal action against the production company it says it hired to create one of the ads for its spring/summer 2023 collection

North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins - who worked on the ad featuring the court documents - are facing a $25-million (R424-million) lawsuit. 

Balenciaga says the production company "included certain documents in the campaign photographs, including an excerpt from a court decision upholding a criminal prohibition against child pornography" without its knowledge.

The fashion brand has been accused of passing the buck, with many saying that it would have had to approve both ads regardless of who it hired to create them. 


The hashtag #cancelbalenciaga continues to trend on social media. Stars, including Nicole Kidman, Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian, have been called out for not denouncing the brand. 

Kim issued a statement on Sunday saying as a mother of four she is "shaken by the disturbing images", but believes Balenciaga understands the "seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again." 

Bella Hadid has reportedly deleted pictures from Balenciaga’s spring 2023 campaign that featured on her Instagram page. 

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Main image credit: Instagram/Kim Kardashian for Balenciaga campaign 

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