Balenciaga, a giant French luxury brand has pissed off the fashion community in China. The company has found itself in the middle of a social media storm over its “offensive” ads. According to Sup China, Balenciaga created a new collection of handbags specifically for the Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentines Day. The “Hourglass” bags are designed with some Chinese phrases embroidered on them such as “I love You.” But the bags turned out to be a dud with most netizens calling them tacky and ugly. Nothing too bad considering how high fashion tows the thin line between ugly and beautiful.
However, when people saw the promotional images for the collection, they flipped. The pictures show Chinese models in what looks like dated attire. The people were offended because they did not want China to look backwards like older generations.
“The ad campaign is downright ugly and tasteless,” one commenter said. “It reminds me of the style used by photography studios in rural China in 1990s.”
While others said the images were made to insult and troll Chinese people over their fashion sense.
“The images were created for nothing but to make us feel uncomfortable!” another said. “The goal is to troll us and make fun of us. I see no reason to buy this offensive handbag when there are plenty of high-end brands out there. Don’t let Balenciaga profit off something that makes Chinese people the butt of the joke.”
Luckily for Balenciaga, not everyone shared those negative feelings. Some attributed the aesthetic used to designer Demna Gvasalia who regularly used the “ugly” look. Furthermore, the pro Balenciaga commenters even said they liked the handbags.
“Speaking for myself, I don’t think it’s tasteless,” one said. “It’s very Chinese and I like the vintage retro vibes of it. I believe many young Chinese people like me also think being a little tacky is now fashionable.”
At least Balenciaga didn’t do overtly racist ads like Dolce And Gabbana. People boycotted the brand and it is unclear if the company recoverd in China yet.