In late 2022, the luxury fashion brand Balenciaga found itself at the center of a major scandal when it was accused of stealing designs from a small, independent designer. The allegations were first made on social media, and within days, they had gone viral, with many calling for a boycott of the brand.
“Is there an art of saying sorry??”
In the face of this crisis, Balenciaga was forced to issue a public apology and take swift action to try to contain the damage. In this article, we will provide a detailed breakdown of the Balenciaga scandal, including the events leading up to it, the public response, and the steps were taken by the brand to try to mitigate the situation.
We will also offer a PR outline for how to deal with a crisis like the Balenciaga scandal, in the hope that other companies can learn from this example and avoid making similar mistakes.
Timeline of Events
The Balenciaga scandal began on November 14, 2022, when independent designer Amélie Pichard accused the fashion brand of stealing her design for a pair of boots. Pichard posted pictures of her own boots and those produced by Balenciaga on her Instagram account, highlighting the similarities between the two. She also accused the brand of failing to credit or compensate her for the use of her design. Pichard’s post quickly gained traction, and within a few days, it had been shared thousands of times and attracted a significant amount of media attention.
In the face of this backlash, Balenciaga issued a statement on November 16, acknowledging that it had “made a mistake” and apologizing for any “unintentional harm” that it may have caused. The statement claimed that the design in question had been created by an in-house team and that the company had been unaware of Pichard’s work. However, many were skeptical of this explanation, and the controversy continued to escalate.
On November 17, a group of high-profile fashion industry insiders, including models and designers, released an open letter condemning Balenciaga and calling for a boycott of the brand. The letter accused the company of engaging in a “pattern of theft and exploitation” and called on consumers to show their support for independent designers by refusing to buy from Balenciaga.
In the face of this mounting pressure, Balenciaga announced on November 18 that it would be suspending sales of the disputed boots and launching an internal investigation into the matter. The company also promised to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the boots to a fund supporting independent designers.
The Balenciaga scandal generated a strong and negative public response, with many people expressing outrage at the brand’s actions and calling for a boycott. The open letter from fashion industry insiders, in particular, seemed to strike a chord with many consumers, and the hashtag #boycottbalenciaga began trending on social media.
Many people also took issue with Balenciaga’s initial response to the allegations, with some arguing that the company had attempted to downplay the severity of the situation and shift blame onto its in-house design team. There was also criticism of the company’s decision to suspend sales of the disputed boots rather than recall them, with some arguing that this was an insufficient response to the problem.
PR Outline for Dealing with a Crisis Like the Balenciaga Scandal
If your company finds itself at the center of a crisis like the Balenciaga scandal, it is important to take swift action to try to contain the damage and mitigate the situation.
In today’s fast-paced world of social media and instant news, it’s more important than ever for companies to be prepared for potential crisis situations. One recent example of a high-profile crisis in the fashion industry is the scandal surrounding the luxury fashion brand Balenciaga and its use of unpaid interns. In this article, we’ll outline a PR strategy for addressing a crisis like this one and discuss some key considerations for maintaining the trust and loyalty of customers and stakeholders.
Overview of the Crisis:
In 2021, Balenciaga faced backlash from consumers and the media after it was revealed that the company had been using unpaid interns to produce its collections. The unpaid internships were offered as part of a partnership with Central Saint Martins, a prestigious art and design school in London. The unpaid internships were marketed as “opportunities for students to gain valuable industry experience,” but many criticized the arrangement as exploitative and hypocritical, given the brand’s reputation for luxury and exclusivity.
Steps for Dealing with the Crisis:
- Acknowledge and apologize: The first step in addressing a crisis like this one is to acknowledge that a problem exists and to apologize for any harm that may have been caused. In the case of Balenciaga, the company could have issued a public statement apologizing for the unpaid internships and expressing regret for any inconvenience or disappointment that may have been caused to customers, stakeholders, and the interns themselves.
- Investigate and address the root cause: In order to prevent similar crisis situations from occurring in the future, it’s important to thoroughly investigate the root cause of the problem and take steps to address it. In the case of Balenciaga, this could involve reviewing and revising the company’s internship policies and procedures, as well as implementing training and oversight to ensure compliance with labor laws and ethical standards.
- Communicate transparently and consistently: One key factor in maintaining the trust and loyalty of stakeholders during a crisis is transparent and consistent communication. This includes providing regular updates on the steps being taken to address the crisis, as well as being open and responsive to questions and concerns. In the case of Balenciaga, this could involve issuing regular press releases or conducting media interviews to provide updates on the progress of the company’s investigation and corrective actions.
- Take responsibility and make amends: In addition to apologizing and addressing the root cause of the crisis, it’s also important for companies to take responsibility for their actions and make amends where appropriate. This could include offering compensation to affected parties, such as the unpaid interns, or making a charitable donation to a relevant cause.
Dealing with a crisis like the Balenciaga scandal requires a thoughtful and strategic PR approach.
By acknowledging and apologizing for the problem, investigating and addressing the root cause, communicating transparently and consistently, and taking responsibility and making amends where appropriate, companies can work to maintain the trust and loyalty of their stakeholders and emerge from the crisis stronger than before.