Balenciaga storefront
Source: Getty Images/Gabriel Olsen

Who Owns Fashion Brand Balenciaga? Controversial Ads Spark Outrage

Danielle Letenyei - Author

Nov. 28 2022, Published 3:29 p.m. ET

Edgy fashion brand Balenciaga is facing criticism regarding a couple of its recent advertisements that seem to glamorize child pornography. One of Balenciaga’s holiday ads depicts children playing with teddy bears that are wearing bondage harnesses and other gear.

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In another ad, the brand’s popular Hourglass handbag, which sells for $3,450, is pictured on a desk among a bunch of papers, one of which is a printout of a U.S. Supreme Court case involving child pornography laws, The Washington Post reports.

The brand has since apologized and pulled both ads. The company has also filed a lawsuit against the production company and set designer responsible for the handbag advertisement.

Balenciaga ad
Source: Balenciaga
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Who owns Balenciaga?

Balenciaga is owned by the French multinational corporation Kering. Kering owns other luxury brands, including Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.

The Balenciaga brand has been around since 1919, when it was founded by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The designer reportedly created clothes for the Spanish royal family and other aristocrats. After the Spanish Civil War broke out, Balenciaga moved his fashion design business to Paris.

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During World War II, Balenciaga’s fashion house was one of a few that were allowed to continue operating during the Nazi occupation of France, the Independent reports. The designer reportedly created dresses for the wife of Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco, a Hilter ally.

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Balenciaga’s designs were also worn by Jackie Kennedy, Queen Fabiola of Belgium, and socialites worldwide.

Balenciaga eventually closed his fashion house in 1968, and it seemed that the brand would fade away after his death in 1972. Then the French company Jacques Bogart acquired the rights to Balenciaga and resurrected the brand.

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Who is the current designer of Balenciaga?

In 2001, Kering bought the Balenciaga brand. Since 2015, Georgian-born Demna Gvasalia has been the chief designer and creative director for the Balenciaga fashion brand.

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Kim Kardashian Is “Re-Evaluating” Her Connection With Balenciaga

Long-time Balenciaga fan Kim Kardashian says she is “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand after being “shaken by the disturbing images” in the recent advertisements.

“As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard, and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period,” Kardashian tweeted on Nov. 27.

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Balenciaga Apologized for the Ads

Officials with Balenciaga have issued several apologies for the ads, the most recently posted on the brand’s Instagram page early on Nov. 28. The brand takes sole responsibility for the bear ad and says the plush bear bag collection should have never been featured with children.

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However, Balenciaga representatives blame the "reckless negligence" of the producers of the second ad for including unapproved documents from the child pornography case.

“We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background, and we could have done things differently,” Balenciaga stated in the Instagram post. “We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative. The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”


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