Last Updated on November 17, 2023
Balenciaga is known for pushing boundaries with their designs. From arm candy that looks identical to trash bags, to a pair of trainers that appear worn to death before you’ve even put them on, the designer label’s creative director Demna is constantly hitting headlines for his controversial designs – not to mention that ad campaign.
For those that don’t remember, Balenciaga revealed an ad campaign that saw children holding teddy bears in bondage gear in November 2022. It took no time at all for #cancelBalenciaga to start trending on social media, with many accusing Demna and the label of condoning pedophilia and child exploitation. Balenciaga swiftly apologised, releasing a statement that read: “We strongly condemn child abuse. It was never our intent to include it in our narrative.”
It’s safe to say that Demna and his team are no stranger to controversy, but they do seem to thrive off it. You could make designs such as the ‘Ikea’ bag, shoelace earrings and Lay’s crisp bags at home and you’d be laughed at, but when Balenciaga does it, it’s high fashion. Every few months, Demna will release another item that grabs people’s attention for its familiarity – plus the designer price tag.
After making its debut on the SS24 runway, Balenciaga just made their skirt that looks exactly like a towel available to pre-order. Cue the label trending on social media, with TikTokers creating videos in their own towel skirts (as well as IKEA).
It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Here, I’m delving into all the times Demna’s designs made headlines. Next, read more about the biggest and best early Black Friday deals on right now or the best sample sales on in London this month.
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Main image: Launchmetrics
Towel skirt, £695, Balenciaga – pre-order now
If you’ve got £700 lying around, why not buy this towel skirt? It might look just like a standard bath towel, but it comes complete with two buttons at the waistline to hold it in place, an adjustable buckle inside and the Balenciaga logo embroidered tone-on-tone on the front.
IKEA poked fun of the designer with their own take on the towel skirt, which they posted on Instagram with the caption, “Introducing the new VINARN Towel Skirt. A 2024 Spring fashion essential.”
Trash Bag crinkled glossed-leather tote, £1,350, Balenciaga at Matches Fashion – buy now
Balenciaga’s Trash Bag retails at an eye-watering £1,350, but looks identical to the rubbish bags you’ll find under your sink. When asked about the hilarious design, which comes in white, blue and black, Demna told WWD, “I couldn’t miss an opportunity to make the most expensive trash bag in the world, because who doesn’t love a fashion scandal?”
Shoelace bow earrings, £195, Balenciaga – buy now
You could make a pair of shoelace earrings, but then you wouldn’t be able to say they’re Balenciaga. Demna released these in 2022 and many shoppers were understandably shocked at how much they cost.
Remember the Paris sneakers? This limited edition shoe looked similar to the classic Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers (if you’d worn them every day for about 10 years). Complete with huge holes, scuff marks and wear, these cost £1,500. Yes, really.
Balenciaga x Crocs
X Crocs Madame rubber mules, £515, Balenciaga – buy now
Crocs have been dubbed anti-fashion, but that didn’t stop Demna from collaborating with the shoe brand. He added his own personal touch on them with a heel, which has proved surprisingly popular.
Remind you of anything? This glazed leather bag looks suspiciously like IKEA’s Frakta bag. Granted, one is made from recycled plastic and the other from leather, but the main difference is of course the price. IKEA’s will set you back 99p, while Balenciaga’s was £1,600.
Joey Tribbiani jacket
Another memorable design has to be this £6,985 layered coat, which gives the look and feel of wearing seven coats at once. It was given a fair comparison to that Friends episode, when Joey puts on all of Chandler’s clothes to get back at him.
For those moments when you’re not sure whether to dress up or down, we have a T-shirt, with a shirt attached to it. The T-shirt shirt retailed at £935 and as usual, left many shoppers lost for words.
Lay’s crisp bag
Balenciaga x Lay’s leather chip bags appeared on the runway in 2022, proving that crisps were the most stylish accessory a person could wear. The clutches were made from high-gloss leather and treated to appear crumpled, just like a real crisp packet. Each bag had a metallic silver lining, zipper closure and had a nutrition label on the back. Unlike a real packet of Lay’s, the Balenciaga clutch cost over £1,000.