Jewellery

Should Balenciaga’s controversial $4400 tape bracelet be considered jewellery?

For Balenciaga's fall/winter 2024/25 collection, which debuted on March 3, the brand has created the most hotly debated jewellery piece of the year so far. A bracelet that has been crafted to resemble a roll of transparent Scotch tape

22 March 2024

By Joshua Hendren

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has debuted yet another controversial accessory: a bracelet crafted to resemble a roll of transparent Scotch tape.

Unveiled as part of its fall/winter 2024-25 collection on March 3 during Paris Fashion Week, the object in question looks just like a regular roll of clear tape, however, it is branded with the Balenciaga logo and “adhesive”.

The elusive creative director of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia, has long experimented with transforming mundane objects into luxury goods, and in doing so challenging what we consider fashion. But, how does his disruptive vision spill into the world of jewellery?

Balenciaga’s controversial $4400 sticky tape bracelet. (Photo: @myfacewheno_o)

This Balenciaga tape is defined as a ‘bracelet’, playing not only with the concept of packaging materials as accessories, but also redefining and recalibrating the very definition of jewellery.

Balenciaga’s controversial $4400 sticky tape bracelet. (Photo: @myfacewheno_o)

Jewellery exists as a universal form of adornment. It is often made of valuable metals such as gold, platinum and silver and is sometimes decorated with rare gemstones.

The Balenciaga tape “bracelet” features neither precious metal nor gemstone, and instead appears to be made of resin, a polymer which was originally developed as a manufacturing material but became popular in art and jewellery, most notably in the 1970s, as a reaction to preciousness.

Is the Balenciaga bracelet a continuation of that narrative, moving jewellery forward by questioning it and challenging the status quo? Is Gvasalia redefining luxury jewellery? Or cheapening it?

One could argue that jewellery makers have been sculpting precious objects out of common materials for centuries, such as bone, wood or stone – jewels prized not for their value, but creative craftsmanship. Indeed, Gvasalia is not the only designer to transform household objects into jewellery as of late.

Just look to the emerging jewellery designer Louie Cresswell who rethinks the aesthetics of functional items, such as toggles and keyring loops, with his jewellery brand, Ouie. Or the Singapore-based Nadine Ghosn who applies a precious touch to the humble fork, spoon and disposable straw with her YOUtensils line.

Balenciaga tape bracelet
Look 59 from Balenciaga’s AW24 collection featuring the tape bracelet. (Photo: Balenciaga)

At the other end of the debate, many argue that Balenciaga’s tape bracelet is merely a continuation of the brand trying to make poverty an aesthetic or look.

No matter the general consensus, designs like this have the power to evoke emotions, spark conversations and initiate debate between jewellery enthusiasts and fashion fans alike. Something that not only empowers the industry’s enduring relevance, but carries it into the future.

Like this? Discover Balenciaga’s collaboration with Jacob & Co. on high jewellery