The year in fashion controversies
Recent bias may make it seem like the Balenciaga controversy is the biggest fashion scandal of 2022, but the truth is that fashion brands have gotten into trouble for all kinds of things this year. Between the collapse of Kanye West’s fashion empire and the release of the documentary “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons,” brands have sparked controversy for cultural appropriation, whitewashing, insensitive comments and calls for mass shoplifting.
Here’s to the year 2022 in fashion controversies.
Proenza Schouler accused of cultural appropriation
In February, Proenza Schouler was heavily criticized for selling accessories inspired by the Hawaiian lei for nearly $1,500. Hawaiians and others were outspoken in the comments section of the brand’s social media, saying it was unethical for Proenza Schouler to appropriate the traditional art of lei making, especially to sell at such exorbitant prices.
To the brand’s credit, a representative said that Proenza Schouler worked with Hawaiian artist Pattie Hanna and a team of Hawaiian craftsmen, all of whom were “appropriately compensated.” Still, the representative admitted that “we missed the mark” and sales of the slate were discontinued.
Vogue deletes Palestine
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, supermodel Gigi Hadid said on her Instagram that she would donate money to humanitarian efforts in both Ukraine and Palestine, ending her post with the message “HANDS OFF UKRAINE. HANDS OFF PALESTINE. PEACE. PEACE. PEACE.”
When Vogue wrote about the post, it originally included the full context, including both mentions of Palestine. But a day later, Gawker reported that Palestine had been redacted from the article, misleadingly indicating that Hadid was only talking about Ukraine. After much criticism on social media, the references to Palestine were put back into the article, ending a three-day controversy with little further explanation.
Dior is demanding compensation from Valentino
Valentino held a couture show in Rome right next to the Spanish Steps in July. The only problem: The app blocked access to a Dior flagship store for most of the day.
This led to a somewhat bizarre open letter from Dior demanding that the brand be “compensated” for the loss of revenue and disruption or face legal action. The claim was later retracted, with sources citing the “friendly relationship” between the two brands.
Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie exposures
While the controversial elements didn’t technically “happen” in 2022, the release of the documentaries “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons” on Hulu in July and “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch” on Netflix in March posted. their subjects in the spotlight. At the same time, it highlighted the many years in which both brands perpetuated harmful beauty standards, as well as the ties between Jeffrey Epstein and Les Wexner, founder of L Brands, which used to be the parent company of both brands.
Both brands tried to defuse the situation, issuing statements emphasizing their new commitment to diversity and distancing themselves from the mistakes of the past.
The end of Kanye West
The other big story of this year, which is also still ongoing, was Kanye West destroying his own legacy and career in a matter of months. What began with public clashes with his brand partners at Adidas and Gap led to the cancellation of both projects as his rhetoric became more erratic. West stated that he would go it alone and create his own independent brand without the backing of a larger established fashion company.
But then came his anti-Semitic comments, including voicing outright admiration for Adolf Hitler and Nazis, shredding any legacy West left in the eyes of both media and one-time fans. As of this writing, he is hanging around with open neo-Nazis and has been abandoned and condemned by virtually the entire fashion world.
Banksy vs Raai
In November, the infamous (and anonymous) street artist Banksy posted to his nearly 12 million followers on Instagram that they should go to the Guess store on Regent Street in London and shoplift.
The reason is that the store sold a collection made in collaboration with the company Brandalized that specializes in selling street art that used images from Banksy’s art. While Guess took down its own Instagram post about the collection, it didn’t stop selling the products. Brandalized responded to the controversy by editing a famous Banksy quote about the ethics of stealing to criticize the artist’s defense.
The big Balenciaga blow-up
The last major controversy of the year was possibly the biggest: two disastrous ad campaigns that Balenciaga released around Thanksgiving. One featured child models posing with BDSM-inspired handbags and the other included a visible legal document related to child pornography. Together, they caused a huge uproar that led to multiple apologies from both the brand and creative director Demna, as well as the withdrawal of both campaigns, a lawsuit (which was later dropped) and the potential loss of Kim Kardashian as ‘ a powerful ally of The brand.
By early December, furor was still ongoing, fueled by right-wing personalities like Tucker Carlson and Sebastian Gorka who got hold of the story and sparked more outrage from their supporters.