Balenciaga’s tape bracelet sparks debate: ‘Thought this was a joke’

Another Balenciaga accessory has stirred controversy online

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Wednesday 06 March 2024 15:36 GMT
Balenciaga London store vandalised after controversial campaign

Balenciaga’s newest collection includes a tape bracelet, which has divided viewers since its debut.

In a recent TikTok video from Paris Fashion Week, popular account @highsnobiety asked viewers if they would buy Balenciaga’s new bracelet, inspired by the Scotch tape sold at your local hardware or office supply store. From the fashion house’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection, the accessory is a bigger part of the collection’s utilitarian aesthetic.

The collection played with a haphazard, dishevelled theme. Dust bags were used for tops, and clear tape was wrapped around some looks. Meanwhile, the final look was a design constructed from heaps of underwear, bringing a whole new meaning to outerwear. Balenciaga has continued to maintain its tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, but some critics said they weren’t in on the joke.

The bracelet in question looks just like a regular roll of clear tape, however, it is branded with the Balenciaga logo and “adhesive”.

Internet users were appalled that a major fashion house would simply turn a regular household item into something meant to be an ironically chic accessory. To many, it felt like the brand was continuing to try to make poverty an aesthetic or look, with one person writing: “Rich people want to feel poor so bad.”

“Balenciaga just been dropping the junk drawer every year,” another person added, while someone else joked: “I just bought one... but it’s from a small indie brand called Scotch.”

One person admitted that they thought the bracelet was a joke until they “saw the Balenciaga writing,” while another person said: “I swear this whole brand is just a big inside joke.”

This isn’t the first time the brand has turned regular, everyday items into a sartorial choice. In 2022, the brand unveiled the “world’s most expensive trash bag” for its Autumn/Winter 2022 collection that year. It made its mark during a dramatic show that had models strut through an indoor snow storm and clutching their Trash Pouches, reportedly inspired by creative director Demna Gvasalia’s Georgia upbringing. At the time, the cowskin Trash Pouch - which retailed for around $1,790 (£1,470) upon its release - stirred up controversy as well.

The brand also released a pair of torn and dirty $1,850 (£1,500) trainers within the same year, sparking outrage. However, not all of the brand’s controversies have ceded from public consciousness, with one scandal having dogged the brand for years.

In November 2022, the fashion house faced intense backlash over two controversial campaigns: one that styled children with BDSM-inspired teddy bear bags and another that included SCOTUS documents regarding child pornography laws in the background.

When speaking to Vogue about the teddy bear bags, Gvasalia explained at the time that they were “referencing punk and DIY culture, absolutely not BDSM”. He added that because the purses were teddy bears, the brand’s image team went with photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, who has a portfolio of work that “often included a multitude of toys placed around a room with kids in the middle of it”.

“That was my big mistake,” he said. “I didn’t realise how inappropriate it would be to put these objects [in the image] and still have the kid in the middle. It unfortunately was the wrong idea and a bad decision from me. We should not have featured kids in images that included objects that were not related and inappropriate to them.”

The fashion house has since hosted its pre-fall collection in Los Angeles, inspired by luxury grocery store Erewhon. Brand ambassadors like Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman both made appearances at the show along with several famous faces.

The Independent has contacted Balenciaga for comment.

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