Balenciaga is in a lot of trouble with not only the fashion community but others around the world. The brand was on the road to becoming the “it” brand of the year, but some slip-ups may have them looked at poorly for time to come.
Balenciaga had been getting slammed last year in 2022 on social media and online publications for its recent 2022 “Gift Collection” campaign. One campaign featured toddlers holding toy bears with leather bondage. The other campaign in an office setting incorporated books that referenced a court case on child porn. Because of the outcry from the world about these campaigns, Balenciaga issued an apology and is currently suing the production company and set designers for the campaign that included child porn.
Balenciaga’s most famed ambassador, Kim Kardashian, has condemned the brand for their controversial ad campaigns. Since then, Kardashian has not been seen wearing the brand. Furthermore, with cancel culture so crucial in today’s society, many people on social media outlets such as TikTok have been seen throwing away/ destroying their Balenciaga items.
On Instagram, Balenciaga Creative Director, Demna said, “As much as I would sometimes like to provoke thought through my work, I would never have the intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period.”
Everyone, including myself, is thinking, “what is Demna’s next move?” The designer said things would be taken into consideration so the brand could avoid mistakes in the future. If things don’t lighten up for Balenciaga, will Demna leave the Spanish fashion house and return to his original brand, Vetements? I’m sure that’s a brand you haven’t heard of in a while and if you have never heard of it, let me give you a little inside scoop on the once-famed streetwear brand.
Streetwear has always been a pivotal aspect of fashion since the mid-80s. Logomania, oversized clothing, and the edge seem to gravitate to the world of fashion lovers. A brand that heavily contributed to this phenomenon was Vetements.
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In 2016, Vetements was the brand to watch and follow. They created a style that, at the time, was riveting and sought-after. The Switzerland-based brand inspired a whole new genre that is still being used today in the streetwear community. The brand’s edgy appeal opened doors to a broad audience that still reminisces on Vetements hype in the 2014 through 2016 era. Demna Gvasalia, who now goes just by Demna and is the creative director of Balenciaga, co-founded the brand with his brother Guram in 2014.
Vetements went against the fashion grain when they appeared in the ‘fashion verse’. Demna and his brother decided to have runway shows in the earlier years of the brand in unconventional and unusual settings that were not always commonly used. Of course, those attributes contributed to fashion insiders turning heads and beginning to pay more attention to the brand. Because honestly, who wouldn’t be curious about a brand that hosts a runway show at a sex club?
To push the fashion envelope a little more, Vetements stopped showcasing collections on the regular fashion schedule and began to stage shows, not on a “runway.” Runway shows started at the Vetements Switzerland headquarters, causing buyers to not be in a traditional setting when looking for pieces for their department store. Vetements showed that you do not have to follow the standard fashion industry rules and still succeed in the business.
Vetements opened people’s eyes during their Fall/Winter 2015 runway show at the Le Dépôt sex club. But what made the brand mainstream across all social platforms was their spring/summer 2016 collection (might I add, 2016 was the year of creativity, newness, and fun. I do not think I have ever experienced a time like 2016.) The fashion show in Paris had a Vetements clothing piece that included the DHL logo. Yes, a standard logo that we have all seen before made a brand mainstream in streetwear. It was different and something you typically did not see on the Paris Fashion Week runway. Vetements made sweatpants, hoodies, and satirical clothing High Fashion.
The hype around Vetements led many celebrities such as Rita Ora, Rihanna, Kanye West, Kendall Jenner, etc. In the following spring-summer 2017 season, the streetwear brand collaborated with 18 brands, such as Levi’s, Juicy Couture, Dr. Martens, Reebok, Canada Goose, and more. This gained the brand even more popularity in the fashion industry.
Demna was always the Creative Director of Balenciaga while working with Vetements, but he officially left Vetements in 2019 to devote all of his time to Balenciaga. It seems to someone like me he took a lot of his style and aesthetics from Vetements to Balenciaga, which left Vetements in the dust. The interesting streetwear/ high fashion vibe gravitated those Vetements lovers to Balenciaga.
Balenciaga was on track to becoming the high fashion brand of the year, but that soon faded after their campaign scandal. If things do not improve for the Balenciaga brand, will Demna leave and take his talents back to Vetements? If he does, will this hurt the brand even more since the departure of Demna from Vetements ? and what is ahead for Balenciaga?
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