Did showing up for Balenciaga cost Cardi B and Kim Kardashian thousands of followers?

Kendall Jenner also lost Instagram fans after attending the beleaguered luxury brand's first show in Los Angeles

Cardi B walks for Balenciaga in Los Angeles and subsequently loses more than 130,000 followers on Instagram. Photo Balenciaga
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Rapper Cardi B has had an intense 24 hours.

On Monday, the singer made her runway debut, donning a blue, floor-length, faux-fur coat as part of the autumn 2024 show for the Spanish luxury house of Balenciaga, accessorised with jewellery created in a limited-edition collaboration with Jacob & Co.

The likes of Ashley Graham, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek and Zooey Deschanel were in the audience, and newly announced brand ambassador Nicole Kidman also attended. Danish model Brigitte Nielsen returned to the runway for the first time in decades for the show, which took place along South Windsor Boulevard, shutting down a stretch of the road. This was the first show in Los Angeles by Balenciaga.

The backlash seems equally high profile.

In the 24 hours since Cardi B walked the Balenciaga runway, she has lost more than 130,000 followers on Instagram – 133,619 to be precise, according to research by Reply Poker – her biggest single-day loss in 30 days.

And she is not alone.

Kim Kardashian and sister Kendall Jenner, who both attended the show, have also seen marked drops, with the former losing 300,000 followers and the latter losing even more at 500,000.

Backlash at Balenciaga

The show comes on the heels of Balenciaga’s recent It’s Different campaign. A very public declaration of a new era at the house, the campaign is clearly looking to draw a line under what was a disastrous 2022 for the brand, when it was accused of sexualising children in an ad campaign.

The campaign made an uncomfortable link between children and the very adult world of S&M. As the brand rushed to pull the offending images of teddy bears in padlock necklaces and harnesses, a second, unrelated image seemed to be using legal papers pertaining to child sexual assaults as a prop in the background.

The backlash that followed was scathing and threatened to topple creative director Demna from his role.

Poor management of the scandal only compounded things, with Demna and Balenciaga seen as slow to respond, seemingly trying to wriggle out of blame by pinning it on others. When the company did apologise, it was a case of too little, too late. Since then, the company has been keeping a very low profile, waiting for the furore to die down.

However, it seems the public is not yet willing to forgive and forget. Not only did people take punitive action against the celebrities in attendance, the brand also lost 6,082 followers since the show took place.

When the scandal first swamped Balenciaga last November, Kardashian publicly stepped back from the brand, saying she was “re-evaluating” her relationship with it. Following public apologies, the two have since reconciled; however, her Instagram followers clearly do not seem to agree.

The only one to come out on top is Kidman, who was named Balenciaga's new face on the day of the show, and has since gained 5,000 followers.

While this lays bare the fickle nature of online followers, it also suggests that the public is not finished with the scandal that almost sunk the house last year. Balenciaga may be trying to put on a brace face and move on, but the drop in figures suggests that, for some followers at least, the issue is not over.

Updated: December 06, 2023, 8:55 AM