People can’t decide whether Balenciaga’s new Ksh140,000 ($925) bath towel skirt is an example of clever marketing or just a ploy to wipe wallets.
The unparalleled high fashion house, piloted by long-time creative director Demna Gvasalia, regularly releases peculiar designs, made to look beaten down and wrecked, with purposeful outlandish price tags – see its $1,850 fully destroyed sneakers or $1,800 trash bag tote. But this particular pick from the brand’s Spring 2024 collection sparked widespread debate online as soon it became available for pre-order on 14 November.
A $927 terry-cloth towel, fashioned to be a wrap skirt, comes after the Georgian designer faced backlash for a controversial 2022 holiday ad featuring children holding teddy bears in leather bondage. Following the extensive criticism, Demna said he planned on tapping into his “roots in fashion as well as to the roots of Balenciaga, which is making quality clothes – not making image or buzz”. He told Vogue his plan in February a few weeks ahead of his fall 2023 debut.
But while the designer intended to find motivation from Balenciaga founder Cristóbal moving forward, this quirky bathroom garment prompted further conversation about the brand’s continued desire to offer “absurd” luxury items.
One riled-up fashion enthusiast took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to make a larger generalisation. “This is absurd, These brands will sell anything and everything at such ridiculously high prices,” they wrote.
“Balenciaga is so unserious,” another critic commented, while someone else said: “I’ll say it again... Balenciaga is conducting an experiment. It’s a behavioural science study. You can’t convince me otherwise.”
Amid the flock of immediate criticism, brand supporters pointed out the platform and intended buyers Balenciaga targets.
“In economics, we’d say they are discovering the true demand curve. They are checking their customer base to see how elastic they are. If it’s a fairly inelastic demand curve which it’s very likely to be. They won’t lose anything by being selling s*** like this, in actual fact…” one person wrote.
“I need customers like theirs,” another fan proclaimed.
One candid reviewer wrote: “What kind of madness is this? At least I’m not their target market.”
Other X users added remarks about how they could make their own towel skirt with their fluffy fabric at home.
“I already got a towel skirt, it cost $10 and it’s from Walmart,” one individual commented.
Playing off the high-end fashion brand’s current visibility, Ikea, the Swedish homewares and furniture brand, dropped a similar advertisement, highlighting its $10 VINARN bath towel. In promotional photos, a model could be seen with a towel wrapped around his waist, layered over a pair of construction pants. On top, the man donned a common Balenciaga identifier with a black hoodie and wrap-around moto sunglasses.