Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia apologized for what he said was a "wrong artistic choice of concept" after the luxury fashion brand was criticized over an advertising campaign that featured young children posing with teddy bears that appeared to be dressed in BDSM costumes.
"It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them," he said in an Instagram post on Friday. "As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period."
Many people slammed the holiday campaign as inappropriate and harmful to children. In another Balenciaga ad, there was an excerpt from a 2008 Supreme Court case that upheld federal statutes about pornography that includes minors.
Some social media users responded by posting TikTok videos of themselves destroying their Balenciaga purses and shoes. Kim Kardashian, who often works with the company, said in a series of tweets that she was "disgusted and outraged" over the ad. She told her followers that she is "currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand."
Gvasalia went on to say in his Instagram post that he needs to learn from the controversy and "engage with child protection organizations to know how I can contribute and help on this terrible subject."
I apologize to anyone offended by the visuals and Balenciaga has guaranteed that adequate measures will be taken not only to avoid similar mistakes in the future but also to take accountability in protecting child welfare in every way we can," he wrote.
Balenciaga issued a separate apology last week and suggested that the images displayed in the ad campaign were not approved by the company and threatened legal action against any content creators behind it.