Balenciaga apologies for using children holding ‘bondage’ bear bags in latest advert


Balenciaga’s Christmas campaign has landed them on the naughty list.

The Spanish luxury label came under fire on social media for having toddlers holding teddy bears wearing bondage gear in its 2022 holiday gifting campaign, which Twitter users branded “totally inappropriate.”

Lensed by renowned photographer Gabriele Galimberti, The Gift Shop campaign was supposed to be a statement on the giving and receiving of gifts, inspired by the revered photographer’s own “toy story” photography series.

As well as the teddy bears in question – which first debuted at Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 runway show in Paris, where bruised and bloodied models carried the plush-toy-come-handbags down the muddy catwalk – the campagin also featured a studded dog bowl, branded glassware and logo-heavy cushions.

"We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.” Balenciaga wrote in a statement posted via Instagram Story on Tuesday. “We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms," the company added.

A separate advertisement to promote its collaboration with Adidas, which social media users have confused as being part of the contentious holiday campaign, has caused further uproar. The photo features a Balenciaga handbag laid atop a stack of documents that beady eyed individuals have spotted refer to the Supreme Court case, Ashcroft v Free Speech Coalition. In this 2002 case, the court struck down a portion of the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA), which meant that virtual child pornography would now be protected speech.

“I cannot believe Balenciaga just – who signed off???? Who’s idea was it even because they need to be in jail. This is concerning. Horrifying,” wrote one user about the discovery.

In another statement posted to Instagram, Balenciaga commented on the court documents in the ad campaign. “We apologise for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign,” the company said. “We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring ‘23 campaign photoshoot.”

“We strongly condemn the abuse of children in any form,” they continued. “We stand for children safety and well-being.”

So far supermodel Bella Hadid has since deleted her post of her recent Balenciaga x Adidas campaign, while the brand itself has deleted all its social media posts. Pressure is also being applied to social media star Kim Kardashian, who has long been associated with the luxury house, to do the same.