- Last week, Balenciaga apologized for its recent ad campaign accused of sexualizing children.
- TikTokers have been destroying Balenciaga products on social media to protest and boycott the brand.
- One TikToker said she threw away a pair of sunglasses that retails at $1,035.
TikTokers are filming themselves while they burn, cut up, and throw away Balenciaga products in protest of the brand’s controversial holiday ad campaign involving children holding teddy-bear bags accessorized with what appeared to be bondage gear.
Balenciaga apologized and removed the ads from social media on November 22, following accusations that they sexualized young children.
In a social media statement, the brand wrote, “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.” The brand added that it strongly condemns the “abuse of children in any form.”
Online users are continuing to speak out against Balenciaga on social media following the brand’s apology. The hashtag #cancelbalenciaga has 70 million views on TikTok, where people are discussing their thoughts on the controversial images.
They are now also publicly destroying or discarding their own Balenciaga products.
One user with 65,000 followers, whose name is Gianna C. Avalos, could be seen cutting up a black leather bag, which she said cost $1,500 when she bought it from Balenciaga, in a video from November 28.
“This is basically my everyday bag. It’s not going to be anymore,” she said in the clip, as she cut the straps off using scissors.
She told Insider that she wanted to use her platform to address the issue.
“I think as influencers, it’s important not to lose sight of the gravity our voice has on the platform holding our following. We can either use that voice to raise awareness or stay silent,” she said, adding, “There is a reason why I didn’t throw away, repurpose, donate, or sell the bag. I no longer desired for this bag to have a place in our society.”
British TikToker Chloé Hennessey posted a similar video, which has received 1.2 million views, on November 27, cutting up a blue Balenciaga sweater and throwing away a number of other items she said she bought from the brand, including what appeared to be a pair of LED sunglasses that retail at $1,035 in the US that she revealed she’d purchased just one day prior.
Hennessey, who gave birth to a baby boy last year, said that as a mother, she felt it was “really disgusting to see children being sexualized and exploited like that.”
Most commenters under Hennessey’s video said they supported her decision to discard the products, but one top comment with 1,000 likes suggested that the TikToker should have donated the items instead.
“Generally speaking, I find cancel culture really annoying, but in this case, I do think it’s for good reason,” Hennessey told Insider, adding, “If I gave it to a homeless person or if I gave it to a charity, someone somewhere is still going to be walking around with Balenciaga, representing this brand.”
“I’d really feel uncomfortable if someone wore Balenciaga around me knowing that what they’ve actually done is so widely publicized,” she said.
Alexis Adjei, a lifestyle TikToker with 6,000 followers who filmed herself throwing away a number of clothing items bearing the Balenciaga logo to a viewership of 3.8 million people echoed similar sentiments in a statement given to Insider.
“It belongs in the bin,” she said, adding, “I think that anyone who is angry, disturbed, upset, or disappointed by the actions of Balenciaga has every right to feel how they do.”
Destroying products from controversial brands has become a popular form of online activism to protest and participate in a boycott against them.
In April, Insider reported that Russian influencers were cutting up Chanel bags on camera after the luxury fashion house barred them from buying its goods in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
More recently, in October, a Florida man named Danny Schiff posted a series of TikToks burning 10 pairs of shoes from Yeezy, the brand founded by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, to protest antisemitic remarks made by the rapper.
—Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) November 27, 2022
A number of celebrities have spoken out against Balenciaga in the wake of the controversy, including Kim Kardashian, who said she was “disgusted and outraged” by the recent ads on Twitter post from November 27. She told her followers in the statement that she is currently “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand, as she has previously featured in Balenciaga advertisements and has also worn the brand to red carpet events.
Kering — the French luxury goods company that owns Balenciaga — did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.