Balenciaga’s child ad scandal to Kanye West’s antisemitic meltdown: The 7 biggest fashion industry fails in 2022

As if rising costs from the Russian-Ukrainian war, supply chain disruptions from the pandemic, and a looming recession didn’t make 2022 difficult enough for the fashion industry, many clothing retailers are looking ahead to 2022. I just made it a little more difficult. PR nightmare.

In fact, this was the year fashion’s three-step dance failed. The public reacts to the embarrassing failure with anger and boycott. And Brand responded with a blushing apology and a well-deserved reversal, often accompanied by executive resignations and a plummeting stock price.

Holly Brunskill, managing partner at London PR agency B. The Communications Agency, explains:

“Fashion brands have long been controversial,” she adds. “But today, we underestimate the voice and knowledgeable consumer.”

Here’s a roundup of the most notable failures and their brand reactions.

Do not boycott Russia #BoycottUniqlo

At the start of the Ukraine war, which saw many brands hastily pull out of Russia, Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo took a little too long to act.

Both fast-fashion rivals Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Zara Inditex suspended sales in the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, but Uniqlo owner Tadashi Yanai, president of Fast Retailing told local media outlet Nikkei that clothing is a necessity and that “Russian people have the same right to live as we do.”

Anger quickly spread across social media under the hashtag #BoycottUNIQLO, prompting Fast Retailing to reverse its decision days later and temporarily suspend operations in Russia. Stock price drop??

Balenciaga very expensive and very trashy sneakers

Never afraid to be controversial, Balenciaga released a limited-edition shoe this year that was shredded, stained and graffitied to look “totally destroyed” by artist Leopold Duschmann. 100 pairs of unique high-tops His sneakers were pierced using “many knives, scissors and texturizing punches in his paper” and stained with a variety of polishes and teas.

If selling the ripped and destroyed shoes didn’t cause enough controversy, Balenciaga was selling each pair for a whopping $1,850.

Rising inflation has pushed luxuries like new sneakers out of reach for many, not to mention the astronomical prices Balenciaga was asking for, and the shoes have angered consumers and activists alike. rice field.

Livia Firth, founder of the Green Carpet Challenge and sustainability activist, wrote on Instagram with a photo of the shoes, saying, “Part of me is completely offended. ‘Buying something so destroyed.’ is not an insult to the people I met in person who wore shoes like this because they couldn’t afford even a basic meal.”

A Balenciaga press release suggested that worn-out shoes last a lifetime.

Shoes sold out after release.

Brandy Melville’s Little Paris Door

A small brand controversy that has attracted a lot of people has to do with the tiny Paris door that went viral on TikTok in 2022.

Brandy Melville is a youth brand, but has often been criticized for its one-size-fits-all policy that doesn’t fit all teen sizes. . But in one store in Paris, Brandy Melville took it a step further and actually implemented this policy in architecture with doors less than a meter wide. TikTokers went all the way to the door to prove they had to turn sideways to enter.

Door’s TikTok has garnered millions of views as people comment on the shameless filtering of people allowed into the store. did.

Brandy Melville did not respond to the online controversy.

Kanye West.

Kanye West’s downfall began with a controversial October 3 Paris fashion show, when Kanye sent models down the runway in White Lives Matter shirts. – Jewish rant.

The biggest brand involved in the Ye controversy was Adidas.

On Oct. 22, shortly after Ye was banned from Twitter and Instagram for supporting anti-Semitic views, Balenciaga removed him as a customer.

A few days later, “I can say something anti-Semitic, but Adidas can’t put me down. So? So?”

“Given the basis for Yeh’s recent comments, and the fact that his words have stirred up anti-Semitism, Adidas has no choice but to act to protect its reputation and show its customers that it is on the right side of morality. There was none,” Global Data manages. Director Neil Sanders wrote at the time.

The German sportswear giant relied on West’s Yeezy brand for 10% of its sales before the breakup became public, according to Morningstar analysts.

Following the divorce, Adidas had to slash its full-year earnings forecast and cut net income from continuing operations from €500 million to €250 million ($252 million).

But the split was arguably worse for West, as Adidas was Yeezy’s main source of income. has evaporated.

H&M calls itself sustainable

Sustainability activists have always paid attention to the fashion industry and its very public promise to reduce its carbon footprint, even though the industry’s emissions continue to rise each year.

So when fast-fashion brand H&M launched its ‘Conscious Choice’ apparel line and released an environmental scorecard labeling its apparel as more sustainable than others, people got it right. I immediately checked to see if

After the Quartz article found that H&M grossly misrepresented these claims, H&M shoppers sued the company for misleading and deceptive marketing.

The proposed class action complaint alleges that H&M’s advertisements were “designed to mislead consumers about the environmental properties of its products,” and that the company “misrepresents the nature of its products and that consumers I paid a premium to pay a premium price with a strong belief,” he added. They buy clothes that are truly sustainable and eco-friendly. “

H&M has since launched an investigation into the allegations and has removed the Sustainability Scoresheet from its website.

The Rolling Stones thought their $1 shirts were ethically made

Just a week after announcing a merchandise deal with Chinese fast-fashion giant Shane, the Rolling Stones urged representatives to immediately terminate their contract when a shocking documentary emerged about labor violations at Shane’s factories. I requested.

British channel 4 documentary Unspoken: Inside the Shein Machine Workers at Shein work 16-hour days, have one day off a month, and earn about 4,000 yuan ($572) a month to produce hundreds of garments each day for online retailers. was reported to have been Shein later refuted these allegations, saying he would invest $15 million to improve conditions at the factory.

A spokesperson for the band said, “Having learned of the recent revelations regarding the treatment of workers in the supply chain, we do not want to be associated with Shane,” confirming that the licensing agreement was terminated immediately.

Created to celebrate the group’s 60th anniversary, the collection featured clothing and accessories priced between $1 and $5.

Balenciaga goes too far with child exploitation

Last year, the worst and most self-harming nightmare in public relations was the Balenciaga child exploitation controversy.

Balenciaga launched its holiday gift campaign in late November, featuring child models carrying teddy bear bags dressed like bondage gear in their usual controversial style.

After a photo shoot went viral for inappropriate placement of a child using BDSM imagery, keen observers of the brand began revealing props centered around child abuse in Balenciaga’s previous campaigns.

In a Garde-Rose photoshoot featuring Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert, Twitter and TikTok users rallied to the U.S. Supreme Court’s inquiry into whether child sexual abuse image laws restrict free speech. I found a copy of the lawsuit. One of Balenciaga’s £2,800 handbags.

In the background of another shoot, we could see the coffee table book Fire from the Sun, a collection of paintings by artist Michael Borremans depicting images of naked infants.

Conspiratorial ties to child sexual abuse sparked outrage online, with the hashtag #cancelBalenciaga trending on Twitter and TikTok.

Balenciaga scrambled to control the damage, hastily canceled the campaign and apologized. In an Instagram post, the brand admitted to “a series of grave errors for which Balenciaga was responsible” and filed a $25 million lawsuit against the team behind one of the shoots.

Brand ambassador Kim Kardashian announced that she was “re-evaluating” her relationship with Balenciaga, writing, “As a mother of four, I am disturbed by the disturbing image.

Many wanted Balenciaga’s parent company, Kering, to fire director Demna Gvasalia for condoning pedophilia and exploitation of children.

Since 2015, Demna has taken Balenciaga to remarkable heights, from having models walk the runway through a fake snowstorm at the peak of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, to creating the gorgeous IKEA and Rays potato chip bags, to Crocs. He was behind other controversies, such as making him wear heels.

But he’s also been instrumental in Balenciaga’s recent smash success, with his surreal, post-modern style propelling him to the top of the hottest brands list every year since Balenciaga’s debut.

Demna just apologized and it was over. In his message online, he wrote: It was inappropriate to let children advertise something that had nothing to do with them. “

How can I avoid these failures in the future?

For your brand to perform better in the new year, it’s a good idea to get to know your brand and its values ​​before it hits the spotlight to make sure it gets seen.

“Brands must slow down to avoid making similar mistakes. Take the time to assess your core values ​​and the expectations and concerns of your customers and wider audience,” says Brunskill. .

“This industry moves at a faster pace, trends and prestige than ever before. Yes, but for trust and trust, honesty, clarity and accountability are a good place to start,” she concludes.

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