Selling tea pots and lunch boxes, Balenciaga hits the market with a (rather unaccessible) gift shop, just in time for Christmas – and its giving polemic.
It’s Christmas season and Balenciaga knows it. Because not everyone can afford a 2 grand priced jacket for the holidays, Balenciaga has ventured into the world of homeward, pet goods and general gift-giving galore with their latest gift shop.
But there’s an issue. The children used for the campaign, shot by photographer Gabriele Galimberti, were photographed alongside plush bears in BDMS-like outfits, and empty wine glasses – an act which to many seemed to glorify the abuse and exploitation of children. Mastermind and face of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia, has already taken it to Instagram to apologise for their campaign, which many are seeing as overly sexualised.
Besides the controversial use of children for the campaign, the actual products and general marketing stunt, as anything that Balenciaga does, is quite ingenious. Launched at the precise right time, the Balenciaga Gift Shop brings the luxury high end into the realm of more accessible goods, which also happens to headline since it’s a rather unusual stunt for a fashion brand of its genre. Funny how we’ve dared to use the word accessible, when we’re looking at lunch boxes priced at 650EUR – but you get the gist of it.
It’s not a first for a fashion brand to delve into homeware. We have become accustomed (and even appreciative) of things like Zara Home or H&M Home, and it isn’t necessarily a first in terms of luxury household names. However, it is interesting the way Balenciaga has named it a “gift shop” as opposed to a homeware line. It is almost as if Demna Gvasalia was trying to see how much he could get away with, bringing luxury to its most insane “normalcy”, but retaining the price tag. We can’t help but think of Warhol and his Heinz tomato soup cans as an undeniable reference.
With the stunt, Balenciaga is looking to do much more than to bring homeware into the brand’s portfolio. It is also looking to diversify its clientele, to none other than children, and pets. Dog vests in leather and leashes mimicking a measuring tape (we’re particularly fond of this one), mean your pet could be sporting 1000EUR worth of pet-accessory goods – which is just about the most Balenciaga thing we could have possibly thought of.
As always, the nudge towards capitalism and pop culture seeps into the brand’s designs. Their tea-pot and plates feature a Balenciaga logo in blue which is eerily similar to that of the Hilton hotel chains, and they also feature rimmed gold champagne glasses with a Stella Artois resembling logo, as well as cushions with Fred Perry-like graphics. Satire at it’s finest.