Balenciaga’s parent company, Kering, doesn’t seem to have learned from its previous marketing scandal featuring toddlers holding teddy bear accessories wearing bondage gear, and is now facing backlash for one of its other subsidiary brands' latest ads.
Last week, Gucci posted an Instagram photo featuring former One Direction singer Harry Styles.
The photo caption reads: “a performance piece starring Harry Styles and the Gucci HA HA HA collection,” and features Harry Styles wearing oversized sunglasses, yellow wide-leg pleated trousers, loafers, and a white shirt with an angry pink teddy bear on it.
Although the outfit on its own is uniquely hideous, the photo sparked outrage for including a tiny mattress in the background that appears fit for a toddler.
Critics, according to Fox News, quickly saw parallels between Gucci and Balenciaga and called the companies out on Twitter:
The collection, according to Evie Magazine, “was created by Alessandro Michele and Harry Styles” and is described in more detail in an Instagram highlight featuring photos and clips of the collection.
In one of the highlights, Michele admits that his inspiration for the capsule is owed to the idea of creating a “dream wardrobe” for Harry Styles, “starting from small oddities that come together in childlike visions.”
The inclusion of inappropriate and sexually explicit symbols in fashion campaigns is no coincidence, given the manpower and capital that goes behind large-style marketing campaigns like this one.
Which begs the question, why are luxury fashion houses like Balenciaga and Gucci launching campaigns that normalize the exploitation and sexualization of children? And why aren’t more celebrities and influencers boycotting them when they do?
According to Yahoo! News, neither Kering nor Gucci has responded to the backlash.