Kim Kardashian 're-evaluating' Balenciaga relationship after controversial ad campaign
Fashion mogul weighing ties to brand over what actions they 'take to protect children'
Kim Kardashian stated she is "re-evaluating" her relationship with Balenciaga after the Paris-headquartered brand posted an advertising campaign depicting children alongside stuffed animals dressed in bondage gear.
Kardashian, who has had a close working relationship with the fashion house for years and is currently a brand ambassador, on Sunday tweeted that she was "shaken by the disturbing images."
"As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand," she wrote, "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."
As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.—@KimKardashian
Balenciaga's troubles began early last week, after its holiday ad campaign was criticized for what many took to be implied sexual content. Shortly after, Balenciaga pulled the campaign and posted a statement to the company's Instagram profile addressing the ad's creation.
"We sincerely apologize for any offence our holiday campaign may have caused," read the statement. "Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms."
Hours later, others discovered partly obscured text in another, unrelated photo for the fashion house's spring 2023 ad campaign. That text was from a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling related to child pornography, leading the brand to issue a second apology for "displaying unsettling documents in [the] campaign," and announce intentions to take legal action —seeking at least $25 million US in damages — against the production company and set designer behind that shoot.
Soon after, Balenciaga completely purged its Instagram, deleting all photo posts and leaving only "story highlights," including the recent statements.
Elsewhere, the photographer for the original teddy bear shoot issued a statement, saying he had been the target of online "lynching," despite the fact he had no say in the products or props featured in the photoshoot.
"I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither [choose] the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same," photographer Gabriele Galimberti wrote.
"As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to [light] the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style. As usual for a commercial shooting, the direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer."
Before his work with Balenciaga, Galimberti had developed a popular photo project, Toy Stories, that saw him travel around the world to document young children posing among a grid-like layout of their toys. Balenciaga is not pursuing legal action against Galimberti, as it is with those behind the spring campaign.