Balenciaga’s $3,300 tape-inspired bangle sparks controversy on Chinese social media

    The packing tape-look-alike bracelet was met with humor and criticism in China.
    Photo: Turkmenportal
      Published   in Consumer

    Balenciaga’s latest bangle has caused a stir across Chinese social media. The clear packing tape-inspired bracelet, which retails for $3,300, was first launched during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month.

    The gimmicky accessory, which looks like a roll of tape, elicited a mixed reception globally. Netizens in China met it with humor and criticism.

    “Luxury goods shouldn’t swindle poor people,” posted @chris on social media platform Xiaohongshu.

    Others created their own versions of the product: “Already bought it, very useful,” wrote @LiuXianseng, posting a photo of regular tape with the word Balenciaga scrawled along it.

    Beyond DIY imitations of the tape bracelet, other netizens have been posting their own takes on the accessory. “I have it, too,” wrote @lemon dog on Xiaohongshu, sharing a photo of his hand threaded through a circular gold door knocker handle still attached to a door.

    Social media in China lit up with images mocking Balenciaga's tape roll bangle. Photo: Douyin
    Social media in China lit up with images mocking Balenciaga's tape roll bangle. Photo: Douyin

    Helmed by creative director Demna, Balenciaga’s unique takes on transforming everyday products into high-end luxury products have caused a stir in recent years. From the brand’s Ikea-look-alike shopping bags, to its more recent towel skirt, Balenciaga’s most viral products were designed to be meme-ified.

    “We see the product on the runway, then when it launches on their website, all of a sudden there are numerous news articles asking ‘would you pay $925 for a towel?’” fashion commentator Hanan Besovic tells Jing Daily. “It’s a brilliant way of marketing for them, because they don't have to do anything. The public who’s expressing its discomfort, or dislike on social media, is doing it for them.”

    In 2023, the brand released handbags that looked like imitation packets of Lays potato chips, which quickly sold out in China during the pre-order stage. Such meme moments have a proven track record, despite the criticisms that Balenciaga’s novelty-focused approach to fashion design elicits.

    “Balenciaga purposely designs certain items to be favored by meme creators,” fashion blogger Cathal Berragan told Jing Daily at the time. “Their pieces are deliberately absurd and meant to be a commentary on high fashion.”

    Meanwhile, the brand’s latest show at Paris Fashion Week resonated with Chinese consumers – 42 million livestream viewers tuned in. Filled with LED screens, swishy, post-apocalyptic styles and wrap-around eyewear and dystopian face shields, the show was popular among Gen Z netizens.

    Commenters on Chinese social media platforms talked about Balenciaga’s eBay collaboration, as well as an “anti-utopia” approach to designs. The embroidered eBay T-shirt retailed for a cool 4,700 RMB ($653).

    Additional reporting by William Zhou.

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