NEW YORK — Reality TV star and social media titan Kim Kardashian said she is “reevaluating” her involvement with luxury fashion house Balenciaga after apologizing for ads featuring children holding teddy bears wearing what critics called slavery equipment.
The French brand, part of luxury group Kering, last week withdrew the photos from its spring/summer 2023 ad campaign. Two of them showed small children holding handbags in the shape of teddy bears, which wore black leather straps with silver studs.
Internet commentators noticed that another photo from a Balenciaga-Adidas ad collaboration showed printed documents from a US Supreme Court ruling on child pornography.
Following the revelation, Balenciaga filed a $25 million lawsuit against the company that produced the ads, according to reports.
“As a mother of four, I was shaken by the disturbing images,” Kardashian, a celebrity ambassador for the brand, wrote on Instagram late Sunday, adding that she had spent the past few days talking with the Balenciaga team “to understand pt. myself how this could have happened.”
“The safety of children must be held in the highest regard and any attempt to normalize child abuse of any kind should not occur in our society – period,” she wrote.
“Regarding my future with Balenciaga, I am currently reevaluating my relationship with the brand,” the star posted on her account, which has 74 million followers.
Last week, Balenciaga posted an apology on its own Instagram account.
“Our teddy bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” the post said.
They then posted another apology, this time addressing the ad that featured court documents referencing child pornography laws.
“We apologize for displaying disturbing documents in our campaign. 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,” the post said.
The New York Post reported that Balenciaga filed a $25 million lawsuit against production company North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins.
Amelia Brankov, a lawyer for Des Jardins, said there was “certainly no malicious scheme”.
“As Balenciaga knows, numerous boxes of documents were simply obtained from a prop house as rental items,” she told AFP.
“Furthermore, representatives from Balenciaga were present at the shoot, supervising it and managing the papers and props, and Des Jardins, as set designer, was not responsible for the selection of images from the shoot,” the lawyer added.
For Balenciaga, which apologized again on Monday following Kardashian’s comments, the controversy comes at a bad time.
She ended her partnership with Kardashian’s rapper and designer ex-husband Kanye West last month after West, also known as Ye, posted an anti-Semitic tweet and appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt with the slogan “White Lives Matter”. ,” a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter racial equality movement.
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