Balenciaga demand plunges after ‘racist’ sweatpants outrage

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Demand for Balenciaga products have tanked in the 48 hours since its $1,190 sagging sweatpants were dragged on social media as racist and a prime example of cultural appropriation.

Demand for the Spanish fashion house fell 27 percent since the controversy erupted online, according to data from LoveTheSales.com, a London-based online sale and clearance outlet.

“If a brand makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, more often than not you’ll see a backlash online, which can instantly filter down to shoppers buying decisions,” said LoveTheSales co-founder Stuart McClure. “Back in February 2019, we tracked a sizable slump in sales for Gucci products (-23%), when the brand released a controversial jumper online.”

“Brands need to be sensitive to the entire customer base, especially in this social media arena that most fashion giants operate in today,” he added.

Balenciaga store
Demand for Balenciaga fell 27 percent since the controversy erupted over the sweatpants.Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The backlash began with a TikTok video probing the “Trompe-L’Oeil” sweatpants, which come with built-in boxer shorts that are designed to peak out above the waistband — mimicking the style popularized in hip hop culture.

Balenciaga Trompe-L’Oeil pants
Balenciaga’s Trompe-L’Oeil pants have “commercial cultural appropriation written all over them.”
Balenciaga

“This feels racist. This feels very racist, guys” TikTok user @mr200m__, real name Josiah Hyacinth, said, as another off-screen voice replies: “It is.”

“They have woven these boxers inside the trousers,” Hyacinth continued. The video, which has been viewed over 1.6 million times, is captioned: “You know when something feels racist @Balenciaga I have questions.”

“They’ve gentrified sagging,” user @6aptiste responded in one of over 3,300 comments on the video.

Representatives for Balenciaga and parent company Kering did not return The Post’s request for comment.

But Ludivine Pont, chief marketing officer for Balenciaga, said earlier this week in a statement to CNN, “In many of our collections, we combine different wardrobe pieces into a single garment, such as denim jeans layered over tracksuit pants, cargo shorts merged with jeans and button-up shirts layered over t-shirts.”

“These Trompe L’Oeil trousers were an extension of that vision,” she added.

Marquita Gammage, an associate professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Northridge, told CNN she was disturbed by the pants and views it as “black culture with the hopes of securing major profits.”

Gammage, who is the author of “Cultural Appropriation as ‘Agency Reduction”’ added that the style has “been used to criminalize Blacks, especially black males as thugs and a threat to American society.”

“Balenciaga men’s Trompe-L’Oeil sweatpants in red triggers immediate concern given the grotesque similarity to the iconic African American hip hop aesthetic worn by black Americans for decades that has resulted in the imprisonment and death of Black men,” Gammage said in an email to CNN.

“The trousers have commercial cultural appropriation written all over them; branded with the name Balenciaga.”

Gammage’s remarks are an apparent reference to a handful of laws in several states across the US south that target those wearing sagging pants below the belt, such as the anti-sagging pants law passed in Louisiana in 2007 and only abolished in 2019.

Of all arrests made under that law, 96 percent were of black men, according to the Shreveport Times, citing data from the local police department.

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