A new age promised by Balenciaga

Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga has announced a new vision for the house of the Kering group and a return to a more sober creative approach.

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto13 février 2023

Balenciaga decided to return to a more sober design after the campaign "Gift shop" scandal. Here is a model from the Balenciaga Spring 2023 collection. (Balenciaga)

In a statement last week, the designer recalled the publication of images of children surrounded by fashion objects that were inappropriate for their age, in an advertising campaign that had unleashed anger on social networks, as well as the indignation of many organizations for the protection of children's rights.

While Kering is due to publish its fourth quarter financial results on February 15, the luxury group is wondering what strategy to follow to relaunch the brand and make people forget the scandal.

The first concrete outcome was the shelving of several collaborations, including the one with Adidas and the distancing from the brand by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, who communicated to her 339 million followers to have put in brackets her collaboration with the luxury label. On November 28, Balenciaga apologized in an official statement and reacted to the accusations by removing the images and filing a complaint against the photographer - the Italian Gabriele Galimberti - and the designers of the campaign, claiming 25 million dollars in damages.

The results expected in mid-February could reflect the impact of the scandal. Note that the figures for the previous quarter (to the end of September) revealed the excellent state of affairs of the house: the Other Houses activity, of which Balenciaga is a part, posted a turnover of 995 million euros (+17% compared to the same period of the previous year) and the Kering press release specified that Balenciaga, as well as Alexander Mac Queen, took a very active part in this performance.

In 2021, the brand achieved a revenue of 1.189 billion euros (222 million euros net) versus 826 million euros (66 million euros net) in 2020 and 927 million euros in 2019, a rise of 44% between 2020 and 2021. A booming success justified in large part by the creative and provocative approach of artistic director Demna Gvasalia, who has managed to modernize the brand, now particularly popular among the new generations.

The November scandal seems to have triggered a change of direction in the marketing strategy: in his recent interviews, Demna Gvasalia announced for the next Fashion Week a more sober runway show, focused on the core values of the brand created by Cristóbal Balenciaga in the late 1910s, abandoning the provocative approach.

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