Is Balenciaga racist? Fashion house accused of cultural appropriation over sweatpants

Fashion house Balenciaga has been slammed for alleged cultural appropriation over a pair of sweatpants.

The ‘TROMPE-L’OEIL’ sweatpants priced at $ 1,190 comes combined with an exposed boxer short above the waistband – a trend quite famous in hip hop culture during the 90s. TikToker Josiah Hyacinth with the username @mr200m_ first criticized the new design in a video at a Selfridges on September 2.

He said, “This feels racist. This feels very racist, guys. They have woven these boxers inside the trousers.” Hyacinth captioned the social media video that got more than 1.6 million views as, “You know when something feels racist @sxbwxyy I have questions.” Marquita Gammage, an associate professor of African Studies at California State University, Northridge, also showed her disappointment over the Spanish fashion brand’s new piece.



Josiah Hyacinth first slammed it in a TikTok video (TikTok/ @mr200m_)

Gammage, author of “Cultural Appropriation as ‘Agency Reduction’”, told CNN via email: “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. The trousers have commercial cultural appropriation written all over them; branded with the name Balenciaga.”

But Ludivine Pont, chief marketing officer for Balenciaga, defended the sweatpants and said, “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.”

But people on Twitter did not seem convinced with Pont’s justification. A user tweeted, “So. Balenciaga has decided to gentrify sagging: the shorts are literally sewn into the sweatpants. When we do it, it’s: ‘we’re ignorant’, ‘we’re ghetto’, ‘pull your pants up’, ‘don’t you have any home training’. But when ‘they’ do it, it’s fashionable – $1,190 worth.” The second one said, “And this isn’t about being worn/torn or about lack, but why Balenciaga has $1200 sweatpants with fake boxer waistbands? I don’t know. But I hate it. A lot.” “They criminalized black men sagging. Now #Balenciaga is selling sagging sweatpants for $1,100. Let’s not even bring up weed,” the third one added.







A person shared, “Balenciaga dropping those sweatpants is all the reasons why some of these high fashion brands really don’t deserve what they have now.” Another one wrote, “Balenciaga is selling grey sweatpants with boxers attached for $1200. Why are we really buying that trash when we obviously create and move fashion & culture.” “Balenciaga got some sweatpants that they stitched boxers on top to resemble sagging Lmfaoo these European brands,” a tweet read and another one added: “Wait……………y’all about to start paying $1,190 for Balenciaga’s saggin sweatpants…………like they showed the boxers to the sweatpants at a certain length……you telling me those of us considered ‘thugs’ because of how we dress are now high fashion? STFU.”







A person sarcastically mentioned, “Balenciaga has been tripping lately. Between this $2000+ flea market bag and these $1200 sagging sweatpants, they have lost their damn minds.” “Hmmm should I wear the balenciaga sagging boxers sweatpants or the rick owens drop crotch poopy diaper pants for casual Friday tomorrow,” the second one added.









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