OPINION: Balenciaga needs to be held responsible for their advertisements

People should stop buying from Balenciaga to hold them accountable. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/UNSPLASH

The luxury fashion brand Balenciaga has received harsh backlash for their recent ad campaigns, and rightfully so. 

These ads and their implications were horrific, and the company needs to be held responsible. Celebrities, fans and everyone else must stop purchasing from Balenciaga permanently, and not let them sweep this under the rug with money and PR.

Balenciaga released two holiday ads on Nov. 16, as reported in a Nov. 29 timeline by People

The first ad showcased the brand’s new teddy bear handbags. These images depicted young children holding stuffed animals that were covered in leather straps, harnesses, collars and a fishnet shirt. Balengiaga quickly deleted these images, but they were reposted by the New York Post in a Nov. 28 article.

There was no reason for children to be anywhere in these ads. Creating teddy bear handbags covered in this type of attire is already a very unnerving and questionable choice, but to then depict them being held by children is disgusting. 

The second campaign looked fine at first glance. It features a plain-looking black and white handbag on a desk surrounded by papers. Upon closer inspection, however, one of these papers contained information from the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, United States vs. Williams.

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that offers to engage in the exchange of child pornography were not protected under the first amendment right to free speech, according to the First Amendment Encyclopedia.

Balenciaga wiped their Instagram clean and released an apology for both ads on Nov. 28. They claimed that they never meant to include child abuse in their ads and that they take full responsibility for their “errors.”

This wasn’t simply an oversight. A major fashion house like Balenciaga would have creative directors, web designers, managers, photographers and more all looking over their work. There can be 10 to 20 people working on a single photoshoot for a fashion brand, according to Sewport, a website dedicated to helping those in the fashion industry further their careers. 

The decision to include children and documents about this case was a conscious choice, many people had the chance to step in and no one did.

There is more controversy that the brand has yet to acknowledge.

The ad with the court case documents also included an image with a book by Michael Borremans. Borremans is an artist famous, in part, for his crude, disturbing images of toddlers, as stated in a Nov. 29 article by the New York Post.

The brand shouldn’t be allowed to wait out this controversy and go right back to making millions of dollars. They have shown a clear pattern of using these terrible themes in their advertisements, and the only time they issued an apology was when they were at risk of losing profits. 

Everyone needs to hold Balenciaga responsible and stop purchasing from and supporting a brand that takes advantage of children in their advertising.