Scandals and Failures of the Fashion World

Fashion Scandals that Changed the Industry

The fashion industry is beloved, and it's not just because of branded collections and couture shows. Behind it all are artists — people who tend to make mistakes. But in the fashion world, one misstep can ruin a multi-year brand development campaign. Marika Team presents the most notorious scandals in the fashion industry and their consequences.
Fashion Mental Health
It's hard to imagine anyone today who isn't familiar with the term "depression." Many people talk freely about this illness, introducing audiences to its first signs. This is how we can protect and save our surroundings and loved ones. In 2018, American fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her apartment. A farewell note was found next to her. Kate had struggled with depression for a long time, and according to her sister, she didn't want to talk about it because she was afraid of ruining the company's fashion image (KansasСity, 2018).

Amazingly, before that, there was little talk about the mental health issue among artists. Kate's departure has greatly agitated the public, forcing them to finally lift the taboo on mental health topics. The BBC, Vogue, Dazed, Elle, and other leading publications began to run stories about psychology and the fashion world. It all went and still goes to make sure that society does not look at the fashion world through rose-colored glasses. Fashion used to be all about beauty, glitz and ideals, but today it's more about models, designers and creative people. The Kate Spade brand of the same name has launched a campaign to destigmatize mental health issues, and today you can read material on their official website and ask for support.
Anti-Semitic Designer
John Galliano is an incredible designer. He is flamboyant and talented. Absolutely every collection of his authorship got a piece of fame. In 2011, he showed the dark side of his personality, which caused him to be fired from Christian Dior and expelled from the fashion world. At the time, John Galliano was allegedly caught on video in a Parisian cafe. Drunk, he was making anti-Semitic remarks to other cafe guests: "People like you would be dead by now. Your mothers, your ancestors would have died in the gas chambers." (BBC, 2011)

Christian Dior first dismissed Galliano as creative director, saying they had zero tolerance for such behavior. Four days later, Galliano was fired. The fashion world turned its back on him and spoke negatively, further destroying the designer's reputation. For example, Alexandra Schulman, editor of British Vogue, wrote that this could not be ignored because Galliano had made a terrible mistake (Vogue, 2011). Official Miss Dior Cherie Ambassador Natalie Portman said she wants nothing to do with John. Prior to that, she almost constantly went on red carpets in the brand's dresses. After the scandal, she was seen at the Oscars wearing another brand. John Galliano made repeated statements and apologized, but for two years they forgot about him; they did not even want to talk about it. He was brought back from exile by one of the strongest figures in the fashion industry. Anna Wintour helped the designer, and in 2013, he joined the Oscar de la Renta brand.
Bloody Diamonds
Back in 1997, model Naomi Campbell visited South Africa on a charity mission. There, she met with Liberian politician Charles Taylor. Later in 2010, she appeared before the International Criminal Court. She was accused of receiving bloody diamonds, jewelry obtained illegally from the same dictator. Naomi's reputation was at risk. At first, she refused to testify, which literally "pitted" the media against her. Then she denied receiving the diamonds; after a while, she said she did receive them from two strangers, and then she gave them to a charity foundation in South Africa.

The convoluted story indirectly strengthened control over celebrity endorsements in the fashion industry. Also in the industry, reporting became more transparent, and supply chains became more diligent to follow.
Racism and Environmental Harm
H&M has the darkest past of any brand. From controversial tweets to unfavorable working conditions for their employees. Today, the brand has a Conscious clothing line that is 50% recycled and the Sustainability campaign that focuses on preserving nature and reducing waste. About 10 years ago, H&M was caught cutting up and throwing away products that were not sold (Nytimes, 2010). Considering that the brand is a fast-fashion representative, the amount of cut material could have been enormous. Only six years later, H&M began to produce the Conscious line as well as refurbish used clothes.

The brand's other big failure happened in 2018. A sweatshirt card that reads coolest monkey in the jungle appeared on the website. The sweatshirt was worn by a black child. The brand was on the verge of cancellation. At the time, major artists working with H&M publicly scolded them and ended their collaboration. Among them were the Weeknd and G-Eazy. After the condemnations, the company apologized and took several actions, among which the most important was the hiring of a diversity leader, who is responsible for racial diversity and inclusiveness within the brand.
Fashion Lawsuit
Not all scandals have a sad ending; something completely new can arise from them. Yves Saint Laurent began his career as an assistant to Christian Dior when he worked at his eponymous fashion house. After a while, Monsieur Dior passed away, and Laurent became his successor, assuming the position of Dior's chief designer. Laurent worked at the fashion house for two years and created six collections. In 1960, he was suddenly drafted into the army because of the outbreak of war in Algeria. After 20 days of military service, the young fashion designer has a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized in a military hospital. A little later, he suffers from another situation. While Yves Saint Laurent was away, the Christian Dior company fired him from the position of chief designer without even informing Laurent himself. Spoiler: they had no right to do that.

At the end of that year, Laurent filed a lawsuit. Newspapers ran articles about the proceedings that put Christiane Dior in a bad light. Yves Saint Laurent was loved; he had shown himself to be a promising designer, which caused the public to side with him. Allegations of legal irregularities and media manipulation were made, making the case even more dramatic and intriguing. In the end, the young designer won the trial, earned himself a glorious reputation, and used the money he won to found his eponymous brand.
Balenciaga and Crossed Line
Well, the loudest scandal of recent years occurred at the end of 2022. The fashion house Balenciaga has been in all social media feeds in recent years due to its flamboyant nature. The models walk with a twitchy gait at one of their shows, then they release a campaign with frightening photos, or they drop ugly shoes that look as if they were not designed to be worn. The line between weird and expressive was crossed when Balenciaga presented new promo photos with children as the main models. The images showed children standing in kid's rooms, holding teddy bear-brand bags. The bears are dressed in black harnesses, collars, and handcuffs. The concept of the shoot was BDSM, but it didn't resonate with the young models in any way. The public resonated with the combination, accusing the brand of sexualizing children.

Five days later, a new campaign for the Garde-robe collection and a collaboration with adidas were released. On the table under the promoted bag was a document from the court case, United States v. Williams, about the distribution of child pornography. People related it all in one. Balenciaga was about to be cancelled. BoF revoked the award from Demna, the brand's creative director. Alexa Demi, one of the most branded artists at the time, ended her collaboration and stopped being the face of Balenciaga. On the Internet, however, people were cutting and throwing away items from the fashion house. A little later, Demna gave a comment to Vogue, apologizing and explaining that he definitely did not want to shock at the expense of child sexualization. The brand itself became an official partner of the National Children's Alliance and also hired a brand safety worker to make sure the ads were verified.
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