Demand for Balenciaga products has plummeted in the 48 hours since its sagging $ 1,190 sweatpants were dragged across social media as racist and as a prime example of cultural appropriation.
Demand for the Spanish fashion house has fallen 27% since the controversy erupted online, according to data from LoveTheSales.com, a London-based online outlet and liquidation outlet.
“If a brand is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, more often than not you’ll see a reaction online, which can instantly spill over into buyers’ buying decisions,” said LoveTheSales co-founder Stuart McClure. . “In February 2019, we followed a significant drop in sales of Gucci products (-23%), when the brand released a controversial sweater online. ”
“Brands need to be responsive to all customers, especially in this social media arena in which most of the fashion giants operate today,” he added.
The backlash began with a TikTok video probing the “Trompe-L’Oeil” sweatpants, which come with built-in boxer shorts designed to exceed the waist, mimicking the style popularized in hip hop culture.
“It sounds racist. Sounds very racist, guys, “TikTok user @ mr200m__, real name Josiah Hyacinth, said, as another voiceover replied,” It is. “
“They woven these boxers inside the pants,” Hyacinth continued. The video, which has been viewed over 1.6 million times, is captioned: “You know when something looks racist @Balenciaga I have questions.”
“They gentrified the sag,” replied user @ 6aptist in one of more than 3,300 comments on the video.
Representatives for Balenciaga and parent company Kering did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.
But Ludivine Pont, Marketing Director of Balenciaga, said earlier this week in a statement to CNN: “In many of our collections, we combine different wardrobe pieces into one piece of clothing, like denim jeans layered on top of sweatpants, cargo shorts fused with jeans and button down shirts layered over t-shirts.
“These Trompe L’Oeil pants were an extension of that vision,” she added.
Marquita Gammage, associate professor of African studies at California State University, Northridge, told CNN that she is bothered by the pants and sees them as “a black culture in hopes of making significant profits. “.
Gammage, who is the author of ‘Cultural Appropriation as’ Agency Reduction’ added that the style has “been used to criminalize black people, especially black men as thugs and a threat to American society.”
Balenciaga’s Trompe-L’Oeil Men’s Sweatpants in Red trigger immediate concern given the grotesque similarity to the iconic African-American hip-hop aesthetic worn by black Americans for decades that resulted in imprisonment and the deaths of black men, ”Gammage said in an email to CNN.
“The pants have a commercial cultural appropriation written all over it; marked with the name of Balenciaga.
Gammage’s remarks are an apparent reference to a handful of laws in several states in the southern United States that target those who wear pants that drop below the waist, like the anti-sag pants law passed in Louisiana in 2007 and abolished. only in 2019.
Of all arrests made under the law, 96% were of black men, according to the Shreveport Times, citing data from the local police department.