30 November 2022

TikTokers are destroying Balenciaga products after BDSM ad backlash – but what does this actually solve?

While the notion of destroying Balenciaga’s products may seem like an appropriate clapback in theory, overall, the act is clearly only bringing more publicity to the luxury fashion house – and we all know how much they love attention.

A woman has destroyed almost £2,300 worth of Balenciaga clothes over the brand’s controversial ad campaign involving children clutching ‘BDSM’ teddy bears. 27-year-old Chloe Hennessey filmed herself cutting up a Balenciaga hoodie that retails for approximately £600. Not stopping there, she also binned a Balenciaga T-shirt, a pair of sunglasses and a pair of trainers.

Her decision came after the Spanish-headquartered luxury fashion house ran two controversial ad campaigns involving children and bondage-inspired accessories. The fashion house has since apologised for both ads and removed them from its social media. Balenciaga has also filed a lawsuit against production company North Six for its role in creating one of the ads. But is this no holds barred approach really necessary? Will £2,300 worth of slashed clothes really affect a multimillion-dollar business? Most likely not – especially as the price paid for the products has already lined the brand’s pockets. 

The idea of burning products in protest is, of course, nothing new. Just recently, Kanye West fans were seen burning pairs of Yeezy’s in response to the rapper’s anti-semitic comments – while football fans have been burning jerseys in protest against player transfers for decades.

While the notion of destroying Balenciaga’s products may seem like an appropriate clapback in theory, overall, the act is clearly only bringing more publicity to the luxury fashion house – and we all know how much they love attention. 

Since Hennessey uploaded that clip, several users have followed suit, with one influencer, Tegan Kline, ditching her £260 Balenciaga AirPod case – and croc-embossed handbag selling for £3,000. “The rest of my Balenciaga will be tossed as soon as I get home,” Kline promised in the caption. While some may argue they’re bringing attention to the scandal, most of the damage to Balenciaga has already been done. With major stars like Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian already denouncing the brand, we doubt destroying already purchased products will result in sleepless nights for Demna.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of sustainability. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to prove that cutting up thousands of dollars worth of clothes is not the most sustainable of actions. When consumers throw away clothing, not only does it waste money and resources (it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce a cotton shirt), but it can take over 200 years to decompose in landfills, according to waste charity WRAP. “The absolute worst thing we can do with any unwanted clothing is dispose of it in the bin, even the most threadbare item,” said Cristina Sabaiduc from WRAP

Arguments could be made that reselling or donating the clothes would still contribute to marketing Balenciaga, but is that just a small price to pay in the name of sustainability? Clearly, when brands make errors such as this, they should be held accountable. But, as mentioned previously, when your solution negatively contributes to a global issue, are you providing a positive outcome? Most likely not. 

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit Balenciaga

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