Balenciaga is in hot water, yet again. TMZ is reporting that the fashion house is being sued by Car-Freshner Corporation. You may not know the company by name, but you definitely know its product, Little Tree Air Fresheners, the scented trees that hang from the rearview window in thousands of cars. Apparently, Balenciaga did not get permission from the brand and started selling copycat versions as keychains. According to TMZ, Little Trees believes "unsuspecting customers will confuse the two brands." The price, however, may indicate that they are not the same" Little Trees air fresheners cost $3, while Balenciaga's leather key rings will set customers back $275.
Designer Demna Gvasalia, who took the reigns at Balenciaga in 2015, isn't shy about the fact that he finds "low brow" culture captivating. So much so that he is often criticized for selling "working class brands and motifs to [...] rich consumers." In May, after Gvasalia printed an airbrushed cityscape on a hoodie, and there were cries of cultural appropriation. Producer Swiss Beatz called out the designer in June 2017 for using what appeared to be New York-based music label Ruff Ryders Entertainment's logo on a men's shirt. He's also created riffs on the Ikea plastic bag and plastic Chinese mesh slippers.
"I see the people trying things," he told The Cut of frequenting thrift stores in his neighborhood in Paris for inspiration. "They make looks. I find this really fascinating... In Paris, you have a lot of characters. And those people who might inspire me, I don’t see many of them on the Left Bank,” he added, alluding to the fact that the people he watches shop are forced to be inventive because they can’t necessarily afford the latest high-end fashion. But at what cost is it all worth it?
We reached out to Balenciaga for comment and will update this piece if/when we hear back.