PARIS – Balenciaga has apologised after it was accused of sexualising children in its advertising.
The fashion label has deleted photos that featured children holding teddy bears that were clad in what appeared to be bondage gear after the images generated outrage on social media.
As of late Tuesday, Balenciaga was still trending on the topic of fashion on Twitter.
“We sincerely apologise for any offence our holiday campaign may have caused,” said the Kering-owned brand on its official Instagram account. “Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children,” it said, adding the ads have been removed from all platforms.
Balenciaga also apologised for displaying “unsettling documents” in the campaign after one of the photos appeared to show an excerpt from a court ruling involving child pornography.
The company said it is “taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items” for its spring 2023 photo shoot.
“We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being,” it added.
Balenciaga appointed the single-named designer Demna artistic director in 2015. Under his creative leadership, the brand’s popularity soared as it launched sneakers such as the Triple S, which are instantly noticeable for their exaggerated size.
The brand also became recognisable for its aesthetic that features models wearing sunglasses at night, black hoodies and broad-shouldered jackets.
The latest campaign, shown on its Instagram account, features model Bella Hadid and actresses Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert in an office setting. The brand frequently deletes photos from its account and replaces them with new ones.
Although Kering does not break down the annual revenue for Balenciaga, HSBC estimates it generated about €1.76 billion (S$2.5 billion) in sales in 2021, according to its April report.
Kering’s biggest label, Gucci, made €9.73 billion for the same period, according to its annual results.
The controversy comes during the holiday shopping season, a crucial moment for fashion brands. Balenciaga also made headlines earlier this month after quitting Twitter. BLOOMBERG