Backlash Erupts Against Balenciaga's Ad Campaign Sexualizing Children

The 100-year-old ultra-luxury fashion house founded in Spain has seen unprecedented backlash for its controversial ad campaign.

What happened: Balenciaga created a highly controversial ad campaign for the holiday season. The photo shoot featured different child models with teddy bears in BDSM apparel. After public outrage, the campaign was removed only to be replaced with one that included case documents about child pornography, books depicting naked children covered in blood and occultism, and the diploma of a real-life child molester.

From the books in Balenciaga's ad campaign set

Why it matters: Although celebrities like Kim Kardashian have expressed disappointment with the recent photoshoot, this isn’t Balenciaga’s first depiction of child exploitation. The brand recently displayed bloody baby accessories in their runway show and worked with stylists like Lotta Volkova, whose Instagram features child abuse art.

High fashion: Another high-profile fashion brand, Gucci, which is owned by the same parent company as Balenciaga, was in the spotlight in recent years after the Gucci heir sued her family for sexually abusing and grooming her since she was 6.

Public response: As the legacy media picked up the story, Balenciaga apologized, claimed that the props in the photoshoots were unintentional and unapproved, and moved to sue the production company responsible. Many are unconvinced by these statements, considering how much effort and attention to detail is involved in the industry.