8 of the Biggest Controversies in Fashion & Retail in 2022

From everything Kanye West did this fall to several major campaign disasters, the fashion industry had its fair share of scandals this year. Here, FN recaps eight of the biggest controversies in fashion and retail in 2022.

Everything About Kanye West

Rapper turned designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, was in the headlines throughout 2022 — from dating Julia Fox to launching a collaboration with Balenciaga and Yeezy Gap. But West’s star fell almost overnight this fall when the designer showed “White Lives Matter” T-shirts at his surprise Yeezy SZN 9 Paris fashion week show. What followed was a lot of acting out on West’s part, where he was heard making antisemitic comments and claiming LVMH executive “Bernard Arnault killed Virgil Abloh.” This prompted West to lose several huge deals including his relationships with Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga. His downward spiral continued for months, as retailers pulled Yeezy product from shelfs and continue to distance themselves from him.

Balenciaga’s Campaign Turmoil

Balenciaga took legal action last month against the production company that created a scandalous ad campaign featuring a Balenciaga x Adidas Hourglass bag laid across documents relating to the 2008 United States v. Williams Supreme Court decision regarding child pornography laws. In the lawsuit, which has since been dropped by the brand, Balenciaga was suing North Six Inc. and its agent and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins for $25 million in “extensive damages” that the campaign caused the luxury fashion house. The suit followed another controversial ad released around the same time which featured children posing alongside handbags shaped like stuffed bears dressed in bondage gear. Balenciaga pulled both of the campaigns and apologized in a statement which outlined several actions the brand will take moving forward when creating campaigns.

Dior Seeking Compensation From Valentino After Its Rome Couture Show

In July, Dior claimed Valentino’s couture show on the Spanish Steps and nearby streets caused disruption to its boutique in the Italian capital. In a letter sent to Valentino on the night of the show by the retail manager of Christian Dior Italia, the French brand requested to be compensated for lost revenues in the store. This is located on the corner of Via Condotti and facing the Spanish Steps, where onlookers gathered to catch a glimpse of the display. Dior demanded the payment be made in 15 days from the date of the letter. One week later, Dior asked Valentino to disregard a previous letter demanding financial compensation of 100,000 euros, citing “cordial relations” between the two luxury houses and “mutual respect.”

Valentino women's Fall-Winter Haute Couture 2022-23 collection, unveiled in Rome's Spanish Steps, on July 8, 2022. 08 Jul 2022 Pictured: Models wear creations as part of the Valentino women's Fall-Winter Haute Couture 2022-23 collection, unveiled in Rome's Spanish Steps. Photo credit: Stefano Costantino / MEGA TheMegaAgency.com +1 888 505 6342 (Mega Agency TagID: MEGA876036_029.jpg) [Photo via Mega Agency]
Valentino women’s fall-winter haute couture 2022 collection, unveiled in Rome’s Spanish Steps, on July 8, 2022.
CREDIT: Stefano Costantino / MEGA

Kim Kardashian’s Marilyn Monroe Met Gala Dress

Kim Kardashian stirred up controversy at the 2022 Met Gala in May. For fashion’s biggest night, the reality star wore Marilyn Monroe’s crystal-covered dress, which she famously wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy in 1962 for the president’s 45th birthday. The dress was loaned to the star by the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum on the condition that it wasn’t altered. With that, Kardashian said she lost 16 pounds in three weeks to fit in the dress, drawing criticism from dieticians, body positivity advocates, and celebrities such as “Riverdale” star Lili Reinhart. She even took time on the “Today” show to deny accusations that she damaged the dress, stating she only had the dress on for 3 to 4 minutes while she walked the carpet.

Kim Kardashian at The 2022 Met Gala celebrating In America: An Anthology of Fashion held at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City.
Kim Kardashian at The 2022 Met Gala celebrating In America: An Anthology of Fashion held at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City.
CREDIT: Christopher Polk for Variety

Kourtney Kardashian Barker’s Sustainable Collections with Boohoo

Kim’s sister Kourtney Kardashian Barker made some not-so-friendly headlines earlier this fall when British fast fashion brand Boohoo announced a new sustainably-focused collaboration with the reality star. The partnership sees Kardashian Barker as the face of two sustainable collections for the company, which received a barrage of backlash online upon the announcement. Fast fashion traditionally negatively affects the environment from overproduction and consumer waste, which Boohoo’s line attempts to combat from two vintage-sourced styles, as well as composure from recycled textiles, sequins and polyester, traceable materials, and transparent information on garment creation. Speaking out against the negative comments, Kardashian Barker took to Instagram last month to invite experts to reach out with suggestions. “I want to help and from my experience so far working with the team I work with at Boohoo, they do too,” the reality star wrote. “I will be elaborating on their changes, how we’ve made this line more sustainable, and what I’ve learned we as consumers can do to help… all to come!!”

Kourtney Karashian, Boohoo, catsuit, lace catsuit, bra, lingerie, boots, black boots, heeled boots, Travis Barker, Fashion Week, fashion show, New York Fashion Week, NYFW
Kourtney Kardashian attends the Boohoo by Kourtney Kardashian Barker fashion show during New York Fashion Week at The High Line in New York City on Sept. 13, 2022.
CREDIT: Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Boohoo

Banksy Appears to Encourage Fans to Steal from Guess

Last month, infamous street artist Banksy seemingly encouraged his followers on Instagram to steal items from a Guess clothing store in London, alleging the company used his images without permission. In a since deleted post, the famous graffiti artist wrote to his 11.5 million followers, “They’ve helped myself to my artwork without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?” The photo Banksy posted was of the window display of a Guess store on Regent Street in London showcasing several items from a capsule collection with the word “Brandalised” and featuring several Banksy graffiti images including “Flower Thrower,” “Queen Ziggy” and “Flying Balloon Girl,” among others. After Banksy posted the message on Instagram, the BBC reported that Guess closed the store, put security outside, and covered the window display.

Gucci Under Fire for Harry Styles Campaign

Gucci received backlash earlier this month from social media users for an ad campaign starring Harry Styles promoting their collaborative Ha Ha Ha collection campaign. In the ads, the singer can be seen posing with what appears to be a smaller-sized mattress as he is dressed in a teddy bear graphic tee and trousers. Though the campaign was first introduced in November, Gucci is now facing criticism for the set props, with some people comparing it to the aforementioned controversial Balenciaga campaign. Though Gucci has not spoken out about the ads as of yet, the campaign came to fruition under creative director Alessandro Michele, who has since left the company. In November, Kering announced that the fashion designer, who has served as Gucci’s creative director since 2015, would be permanently leaving the brand.

gucci, harry styles, mattress
Harry Styles stars in Gucci HA HA HA campaign, which was released in November.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Gucci

Canadian Retailer La Maison Simons Controversial Euthanasia Campaign

La Maison Simons, which is more commonly known as Simons, made headlines for all the wrong reason in October following the unveiling of a campaign focused on euthanasia. On Oct. 24 the company posted on its site a video titled “All Is Beauty.” The three-minute clip was posted a day after the terminally ill subject of it, 37-year-old Jennyfer Hatch, had taken her life. In the clip Hatch made a case for what is known in Canada as “medical assistance in dying.” Hatch discussed life and death and how she was seeking beauty, nature and connection in her final days. After Simons came under fire for its campaign, the company ended it, according to a Simons spokesman.

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