Selfridges and Balenciaga apologise over "insensitive" VM

Selfridges and Balenciaga have apologised after criticism of the heavily-publicised Selfridges Corner Shop takeover by the brand with an art installation claimed to trivialise the problem of rough sleeping.


Selfridges/Balenciaga


Social media posts accused the store and label of being an example of the “rich mocking not the poor, but the poorest” and of ignoring the irony of very expensive clothing sold to the affluent trading on a style forced onto the more disadvantaged in society.

Some of the mannequins in the installation were lying face down or slumped against a wall while dressed in hoodies, track pants and trainers.

Councillor Emine Ibrahim, deputy leader of Haringey Council, told The Standard newspaper that she was “appalled” by the display that is a “truly shallow reflection of consumerism.”

She added: “Young men and women are dying on our streets in London and the idea that this imagery of people sleeping on the streets – one face down and the other shivering – can in some way be used to promote a luxury brand like Balenciaga is truly astonishing.”

The store and brand insisted that hadn’t been their intention and it was clearly an example of how careful brands have to be these days as intentions can be misinterpreted, leading to reams of negative publicity.  

The concept for the display came from Balenciaga rather than Selfridges. It commissioned US artist Mark Jenkins to create the installation that was meant to represent people indoors, not on the streets, some of them being based on “people waiting in airports”. 

But it apologised nonetheless saying: “We did not expect this misinterpretation. We are sorry this has caused offence and have modified it to avoid any further upset.”

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