Balenciaga Sparks Outrage Over ‘Ugly’ Bags for Chinese Valentine’s Day

Balenciaga has come under fire yet again — this time in China for what social media users are calling “tacky,” “gaudy” and “tasteless” handbags.

In time for the Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qixi Festival) on Aug. 25, the French fashion house launched a new collection of bags that featured various expressions of love, including “He loves me,” “You love me,” “I love you” and “I love me.”

Promotional images for Balenciaga’s new bags surfaced on its official page on TMall last weekend.

The bags, however, were introduced in a series of ads that featured visual elements reminiscent of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Unfortunately, this did not sit well for many Weibo users, who deemed the promo as simply unattractive.

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“He Loves Me”

Some worried that Balenciaga might be thinking that China’s fashion scene is behind the times.

“The ad campaign is downright ugly and tasteless. It reminds me of the style used by photography studios in rural China in the 1990s,” one Weibo user wrote, according to SupChina.

“You Love Me”

Meanwhile, others questioned whether the company was actually trying to insult Chinese people.

“Balenciaga’s campaign in Europe this year follows a post-apocalyptic theme made using exceptional artistry and technique, revolving around the idea of being able to imagine the future yet lacking the courage to accept it,” one Weibo user commented, according to Mothership. “Take the European promotional campaign and put it together with the Chinese campaign. Only an idiot would believe that the French didn’t mean to insult us with this.”

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“I Love You”

The limited-edition items, built on Balenciaga’s iconic Hourglass bag, are priced at 13,900 yuan ($2,000). This led others to speculate that the company could be pulling a prank.

As of this writing, the hashtag #巴黎世家七夕广告 土# (“Balenciaga’s Qixi-themed commercial is tacky”) has generated 230 million views and 24,000 posts. It even sparked an online poll that showed 57% of some 13,000 respondents saying that the ads were “unacceptable” because they are “too tacky.”

“I Love Me”

The ads have drawn similar reactions on Twitter.

“Oh dear Balenciaga, is that background 240p? What is happening with the font? I can’t believe these are designs by a luxury brand,” one user wrote.

Balenciaga is far from being the only luxury brand to cause a stir among Chinese social media users. In 2017, Dolce & Gabbana sparked outrage after portraying China as an “underdeveloped” country.

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More recently, the French fashion house faced a backlash for allegedly appropriating a Vietnamese designer’s master’s project for an Instagram post.

Feature Images via Balenciaga

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