Balenciaga: the punishment doesn’t fit the crime

Gen Z won’t let the fashion brand get away with this one

Kathrine Hamdan 3 Min Read

Mother always warned me never to talk to strangers. Little did she know it wasn’t the strangers on the street she would have to worry about, but a global fashion brand with millions of customers and followers – 14.3 million on Instagram to be exact.

And that’s after it came under fire for its holiday campaign featuring young children holding teddy bears in bondage leather ensembles, surrounded by bottles of alcohol, wine glasses, cigarettes and – the disturbing cherry on top – Supreme Court documents that upheld a law criminalizing child sexual abuse images.

So, my question is, why hasn’t Balenciaga been punished yet?

While the brand has apologized for the campaign, which it took off its social media channels, it continues to be allowed to post on Instagram. That’s the same platform that banned former athlete and internet personality Andrew Tate for his so-called misogynistic comments.

Does that mean Instagram doesn’t care enough about the children to punish Balenciaga in the same manner? They’re not alone in their lack of action.

Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, have not even boycotted the brand, and instead, the reality TV star is taking her time to “re-evaluate” her relationship with it, “basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — and the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children,” the mother-of-four said.

She continued: “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.”

How does she expect Balenciaga to take action towards protecting children when she clearly isn’t doing so herself?

Or maybe, just maybe, she’s waiting to cash in on her next paycheck from the brand she’s highly associated with, before she actually makes an announcement worth reading. After all, she is believed to be paid multi-million dollars for her work with Balenciaga – so it seems to be all about the ka-ching for Kim.

This isn’t to mention that she only put out a statement days after the brand came under fire, and only because Kim herself was being berated by her fans for staying silent. So Kim, if you want to keep profiting off of Balenciaga, at least just be honest about it. There’s enough that’s fake about you already.

You’re not doing so well, sweetie. 

While Balenciaga has published a statement on its Instagram account promising to take actions such as donating “a significant fund for grants to organizations so that we can help make a difference in protecting children,” we are yet to find out what those organizations are, or exactly how much it’s going to donate. It also said it has “appointed a best-in-class agency to assess and evaluate our content” but has not revealed that agency. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound good enough to me.

Balenciaga is still very much in fashion – but not for Gen Z 

Perhaps the brand doesn’t feel the pressure to act fast, as unfortunately, many celebrities are yet to comment or speak out against it. While Bella Hadid, one of Balenciaga’s current brand ambassadors, has deleted a few posts wearing Balenciaga from her Instagram, her reaction falls short compared to her support towards other causes. Others who have remained quite include actress Nicole Kidman, singer Dua Lipa, and model Naomi Campbell. 

Yet nearly 50 students at the American University in Dubai said they’d be ashamed to wear Balenciaga, in a survey and interviews conducted by Frankly last week.

So, if the average person can decide to boycott Balenciaga, why can’t celebrities? Oh right – the money. At least Gen Z have the guts to stand up for what’s right. 

“It’s wrong in every way and apologies from Balenciaga won’t do anything. So far, it looks like the brand is on the verge of cancellation to the point where it’s absurd to find an excuse or somehow justify its actions,” one student tells me.

“Any celebrity who will try to convince people this campaign was just a mistake is full of sh*t and they got a lot of money to speak up, meanwhile they don’t really care, cause sh*t is corrupt,” he said.

Another one said: “It’s disgusting to see the lengths fashion companies [go to] in the name of ‘art’ and making money,” while one student said: “It’s shameful what they did, especially since they’re a big [global] brand.”

It seems Gen Z care more about the children than these celebrities do – and they certainly don’t think the punishment fits the crime. Needless to say, Gen Z isn’t here for the bare minimum – and neither should you. Periodt.

*Periodt is Gen Z slang, which is a more intense version of “period,” to signify the end of a conversation or emphasize a point being made.