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Kim Kardashian demanded Balenciaga take action after double controversy over child exploitation ads—it seems they listened. Here’s what they’re proposing

Fortune 11/30/2022 Alice Hearing
Kim Kardashian attends the 2022 LACMA ART+FILM GALA © Michael Kovac—Getty Images for LACMA Kim Kardashian attends the 2022 LACMA ART+FILM GALA

Balenciaga has bowed to the pressure of Kim Kardashian after the star called on them to take action over their latest controversial ad campaign that featured children holding teddy bears dressed in what appeared to be bondage outfits.

Then a second campaign featuring Bella Hadid caused a further stir after the images used in it, meant to depict a “business environment,” featured real legal documents in the background relating to a court case about child pornography.

Images from the campaigns in question were promptly deleted by the luxury fashion brand after they drew widespread outrage, and an apology was issued on their Instagram account.

But it wasn’t enough for many. The brand continued to trend on Twitter for several days amid calls for celebrities who work with Balenciaga—a list that includes Kardashian, Hadid and Nicole Kidman—to sever their relationship.

Kardashian under fire

As a high-profile face of the brand, Kardashian came under fire for failing to comment as soon as the controversy broke.

The mother of four broke her silence on Sunday and slammed Balenciaga on Twitter, claiming that she had waited because she “wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand how this could have happened.”

She said that she was “disgusted and outraged,” and “shaken by the disturbing images,” and added that “any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period.”

While Kardashian said she believes the company is taking measures to ensure such an incident doesn’t repeat, she revealed that she was also reconsidering her relationship with them, citing their “willingness to accept accountability” and any future actions they might take as having an effect on her decision.

What’s next for Balenciaga?

Shortly after Kardashian’s statement, Balenciaga doubled-down on their remorse.

In a Instagram post Monday, the brand reiterated its apology, gave more detail on their side of the situation and set out a list of actions they would take as a result.

“We strongly condemn child abuse; It was never our intent to include it in our narrative,” the statement said, citing “a series of grievous errors.”

Balenciaga also confirmed that the documents in the second campaign were from a Supreme Court ruling, and were provided by a third party that had told them in writing that they were fake. Again, the brand said they take full accountability for the “lack of oversight” and “reckless negligence.”

As a result, the fashion brand said external and internal investigations are ongoing, and promised that as a first point of call they would revise the organization's “collective ways of working.”

Balenciaga also intends to “reinforce the structures” around their creative processes, validation steps, and introduce new controls so that nothing similar would happen again.

Lastly, they said they would build a relationship with child protection organizations, adding that they are keen to learn from their mistakes and make a contribution.

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