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Balenciaga drops $25M lawsuit

by Malou Talosig-Bartolome

Luxury fashion Balenciaga has decided to drop the US$25 million lawsuit against the production company and set designer behind one of its ad campaigns that used legal papers on child pornography.

“Balenciaga has decided not to pursue litigation,” Cedric Charbit, president and chief executive officer of Balenciaga, wrote in a statement posted on Balenciaga Instagram account. 

Third apology

This is the third time the luxury brand has made a statement on its biggest fashion faux pas for series of ad campaigns that feature children holding teddy bear clad in bondage gear and a purse atop a US Supreme Court ruling on child pornography.

Their first statement was an apology, which some critics described as “half-hearted.” A few days later, it issued another statement, apologizing profusely for the error and taking a legal action against their production contractors, North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins.

In this third statement, Balenciaga CEO said they will institute more “control” measures “with the objective to learn from our mistakes as an organization.”

“I want to personally reiterate my sincere apologies for the offense caused take my responsibility,” Charbit said.

Control measures

One of the control measures they will institute is to nominate an “image board” within its organization. The image board will be responsible for evaluating the “nature of our content from concept to final assets, including legal, sustainability and diversity expertise.”

“On the external side, we have appointed a best-in-class agency to assess and evaluate our content,” Charbit said.

They have also started training on “responsible communication” across our teams.

Engage child advocates

“We want to learn, help and contribute to protect children,” Charbit said. “Together with my team, we will go on ‘listening tour’ to engage with advocacy groups who aim to protect children.”

Charbit added that Balenciaga has also set aside a “significant fund” for grants to organizations “so that we can help make a difference in protecting children.

Balenciaga’s parent company Kering is worth US$15.65 billion. Aside from Balenciaga, the French luxury group also includes Gucci, Saint Laurent and Sergio Rossi.

Demna says sorry, takes responsibility for ‘wrong artistic choice of concept’

Meanwhile, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia has also issued an apology for the fashion campaign featuring photos of two young girls holding stuffed teddy bears.

Demna, who was named one of the most “influential people in the world” in 2022 by Time Magazine, said he is taking “responsibility” for the “wrong artistic choice of concept.’

“It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them,” Demna said in his Instagram post.

“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,” Gvasalia said.

Like Charbit, the Georgian fashion designer said he would engage with child protection organizations to “learn from this (mistake), listen and engage… 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.

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