Balenciaga Under Fire with Accusations of Cultural Appropriation

“I am not your moodboard!” French owned Spanish brand, Balenciaga, is accused of stealing cultural works from small artists as many cannot help but see striking similarities.

Photo Credit: Balenciaga

Balenciaga is no stranger to scandals and they are facing yet another round of accusations of appropriation by a Berlin University of Arts graduate. Tra My Nguyen took to Instagram to express her anger and released a statement condemning the brand as she highlights similarities between her own work and the image released on their own Instagram account. She relayed her betrayal and demanded an apology for the “stealing, appropriating and profiting from POC artists’ ideas.”

She continues to explain that a Balenciaga recruiter requested to see her portfolio twice under the guise in searching for interns. Nguyen’s master project was based on Vietnamese biker culture and influenced by her own mother’s experience in selling her motorbike to migrate to Germany. Nguyen sent a curated portfolio of the work process however never heard back from the recruiter. However, she was later shocked to see very similar works posted on the company’s own Instagram account.

Photo Credit: Tra My Nguyen/@tra.my1


Balenciaga released an Instagram story to clarify their post was not based on Nguyen’s work but was rather inspired by “how street vendors sometimes display their merchandise.”

Nguyen retorts this post as “un-empathetic and double-dealing” as she expressed her disdain at the oppressive nature of the fashion industry in a new Instagram post. Supporters also flooded the post as they berated Balenciaga for the inappropriate and insensitive actions. They also pointed out that the company was deleting comments and many took this as an affirmation of guilt.

She called on universities to protect the intellectual property rights of student artworks and promises Balenciaga they will hear from her again.

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