Ex-Balenciaga worker warns against buying brand from 3rd parties

An internet user who claims to be an ex-Balenciaga worker has sparked discussion after claiming that a former employee had sewn arsenic into garments that were sent to discount clothing stores. Are her claims true?

In a video with over 231,000 views, TikTok user Ana Rivera (@anaforcongress) alleges that she had signed an NDA with Balenciaga that has expired, which allows her to tell this story.

According to Rivera, the brand caught a worker, who was an American living in Indonesia, sewing arsenic into clothing that was meant for outlets or third parties.

“Homeboy’s logic was basically, ‘If you don’t have the money to buy Balenciaga straight from the Balenciaga store, and you have to get it from an outlet or a third party, that you don’t deserve to wear it,’” the TikToker says. “So homeboy took it upon himself to actually stitch arsenic inside of the stitching of the clothing, not only of jeans, sneakers and underwear, but of bathing suits as well.”

“While I was working there, it was like a whole big frenzy,” she shares. “It was like, ‘Whoa, this is going on. This has to be swept under the rug’…So they had all of us sign NDAs.”

According to Rivera, the issue was discovered by a customer.

“We only realized because a customer came back in, and she actually had a tear in one of her clothing and she said that there was a powdery substance coming out of the clothing,” Rivera states. “Upon more investigation, they said, ‘Wait, something’s not right here.’ They started investigating more and more and more. They found out that he did this to over 20,000 articles of clothing within his 10 years of working for them.”

Rivera says in the comments section, “Balenciaga contacted the authorities right away.” She also added in the caption: “Balenciaga had no idea. This individual took it upon himself.”

“If you bought any Balenciaga item from any third party—Neiman Marcus, Amazon, if you could get it there, any third party, Macy’s, anything—check it,” the TikToker advises.

There are many reasons to doubt Rivera’s story. First, she does not provide evidence of previous employment at Balenciaga, nor does she show any documentation about an NDA or any of the relevant details about this story.

Second, Rivera alleges this happened due to the actions of an American working in Indonesia. Balenciaga does not appear to manufacture any items in Indonesia. On the brand’s balenciaga.com/”>website, every item has a country of origin. The phrase “Made in Indonesia” is absent from the entire site, with the majority of the brand’s manufacturing taking place in Italy, China, or Portugal.

Third, it is doubtful that a manufacturer would know which item from a luxury label is to be sold via the company’s official channels and which is to be sold via a third party. As noted by Business of Fashion, outlets are generally used by luxury brands to sell off old stock; therefore, the idea that a manufacturer would know that their item would go directly to an outlet is doubtful.

Finally, if 20,000 items were truly affected, it is unlikely that the resultant controversy would simply be able to be “swept under the rug,” as Rivera claims. Clothing recalls for dangerous substances are relatively common. For example, back in 2022, around 87,000 units of children’s clothing were recalled by the company Bentex after they were found to contain lead paint.

A company finding that 20,000 of its items contained powdered arsenic would likely warrant a significant and swift response in the form of recalls and inspections, not merely NDAs given to workers at the store.

@anaforcongress Balenciaga had no idea. This individual took it upon himself. #storytime #twisted #disturbing ♬ original sound – Ana Rivera

While many commenters expressed their belief in Rivera’s story, others showed signs of doubt.

“Why in the hell would they do that knowing that it could be a huge lawsuit?” asked a user.

“Wouldn’t it be poisonous for him to handle it when adding it to the clothing? Is that guy dead?” offered another.

“That doesn’t make sense to me at all…” declared a third.

The Daily Dot reached out to Balenciaga and Rivera via email. We also reached out to Macy’s and Neiman Marcus for comment.

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*First Published: May 9, 2024, 8:00 am CDT

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