Balenciaga is dealing with the fallout of a major fashion faux pas.
"We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative," the company said in a Nov. 28 statement. "The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility."
The statement acknowledged that the first campaign, a gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what appeared to be BDSM-inspired outfits.
"Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should have not been featured with children," the statement continued. "This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone."
The fashion company also addressed the second campaign for its Spring 2023 collection, which according to the brand, was meant to replicate a "business office environment," and included a photo with a page in the background from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling which confirms the promotion of child pornography is illegal and not protected by freedom of speech.
"All the items included in the shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents," the statement explained. "They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama. The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint."
The brand added, "We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background, and we could have done things differently."
Balenciaga said that while "internal and external investigations are ongoing," the company will be taking several actions including, "closely revising, our organization and collective ways of working, reinforcing the structures around our creative processes and validation steps and laying the groundwork with organizations who specialize in child protection and aims at ending child abuse and exploitation."
"We want to learn from our mistakes and identify ways we can contribute," the statement concluded. "Balenciaga reiterates it sincere apologies for the offense we have caused and extends its apologies to talents and partners."
On Nov. 22, after the campaigns went viral, Balenciaga removed the images and apologized "for any offense" people took from the photos of the kids with the plush bears in the holiday ad and "for displaying unsettling documents" in the spring ad.
According to court documents filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Nov. 25 and obtained by E! News, Balenciaga filed a lawsuit against the spring campaign's production company North Six Inc. and its agent and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins for $25 million in "extensive damages." The fashion house alleged that "inexplicable acts and omissions" made without Balenciaga's knowledge were "malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless," the docs read.
A representative for North Six declined comment on the summons.
"As a mother of four, I have been shaken by those disturbing images," she wrote on her Instagram Story on Nov. 27. "The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and anything against it should have no place in our society-period."
However, the 42-year-old—who shares North West, 9, Saint West, 6, Chicago West, 4, and Psalm West, 3, with ex Kanye West—said appreciated Balenciaga's initial apology and believes the brand understands "the seriousness of the issue and will make the necessary measure for this to never happen again."
Kim also said she is currently "reevaluating" her relationship with the brand, "basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with—and the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children."