Balenciaga, the avant-garde fashion house renowned for its audacious designs and exorbitant prices, has stirred a new controversy with its latest offering—a $925 terry-cloth towel fashioned as a wrap skirt. Launched as part of the brand’s Spring 2024 collection and available for pre-order since November 14, the unconventional garment has ignited a storm of debate across social media platforms.
Led by creative director Demna Gvasalia, known for pushing the boundaries of fashion, Balenciaga has continually released eccentric and intentionally distressed designs, such as the $1,850 ‘fully destroyed’ sneakers or the $1,800 trash bag tote. However, the arrival of this high-priced towel skirt has triggered fresh discussions about the brand’s approach to luxury and its marketing tactics.
This release follows a controversial 2022 holiday ad by the designer, featuring children holding teddy bears in leather bondage, which garnered widespread backlash. Demna expressed intentions to revert to Balenciaga’s essence of creating quality clothes, steering away from creating mere images or buzz. In a Vogue interview earlier this year, he emphasized his plan to draw inspiration from the brand’s founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga, focusing on crafting quality apparel.
Despite the designer’s shift in approach, the towel skirt has reignited debates on Balenciaga’s inclination toward offering seemingly “absurd” luxury items. Critics have panned the brand’s strategies, labeling them as attention-seeking experiments and questioning the rationale behind selling mundane items at exorbitant prices.
Criticism flooded social media, with one user on the X platform stating, “Balenciaga is so unserious,” while another suggested that the brand’s marketing tactics were akin to a behavioral science study.
However, supporters argued that the brand was assessing the true demand curve and exploring the elasticity of its customer base. Defenders noted that Balenciaga’s target market may not be affected by the high price tag, praising the brand’s strategy for knowing its customer base well.
Amidst the discourse, an Ikea ad capitalizing on the high fashion brand’s visibility dropped, showcasing a $10 bath towel and humorously mimicking Balenciaga’s style. The ad featured a model sporting the budget-friendly towel wrapped around the waist, juxtaposed with Balenciaga’s signature black hoodie and moto sunglasses, adding a playful twist to the conversation.
As the fashion industry continues to witness Balenciaga’s provocative releases, opinions remain divided between those questioning the brand’s luxury pricing strategies and supporters who defend its innovative approach in the market.