Chance to change Chinese 'lack of voice' in intl fashion world

By Li Qiao Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/21 19:13:40

Chinese consumers against disrespectful designs demand change

Chinese consumers walk in a shopping area in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: IC

Chinese consumers are questioning the excuse used by some international fashion brands that the reason why they disrespected China's territorial integrity in their designs is that they use unified International Organization for Standardization codes.

US fashion brand Coach, French luxury brand Givenchy, Japanese sports brand Asics and some other international brands listed Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as countries on their products or websites, Chinese net users found last week, which sparked outrage on Chinese social media, leading the brands to apologize.

Not accepted

Yang Yang, a 29-year-old consumer of those brands in Beijing, told the Global Times that she considers the ISO3166-2 list to be an excuse.

"I know other international brands which list Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as regions on their website. If the international standard code is like that, then we need to change this thing even more to safeguard the territorial integrity of China," Yang said.

Liu Xin, a 21-year-old woman from South China's Guangdong Province who is interested in the fashion industry, told the Global Times, "This explanation cannot be said to be unreasonable, but I personally suspect that it is simply whitewashing."

One sign of this is that even on the code list, it is clearly marked that Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan do not have independent sovereignty, so it is obviously inappropriate to list them separately on clothes, she said.

The other is that China's "one country, two systems" principle has been implemented for a long time, Liu said.

Can an international brand be completely ignorant of this universal knowledge? Even if they don't know, is there no verification process after the product design is completed? Is this just "carelessness" or is it really "indifference" and "turning a blind eye"? Liu questioned.

"Many things could already have been solved if the brand really cared," Liu said.

A programmer (who requested not to be named) who has worked for a top global IT company for four years, told the Global Times that it is not a difficult operation from a technical standpoint.

"Although it cannot distinguish nation and region from the international standard code directly, the general title can be changed to 'nation or region', or list some international codes as regions on a separate whitelist," he said.

Fixing the problem is simple; but he thinks most of the time communication departments lack political sensitivity. 

"Most companies are sloppy in areas they are not good at," he said.

More respect required

Yang regards the apologies as public relations acts, which are all for the purpose of stabilizing the large business market of those international brands in China. 

"If they were aware of their mistakes, they should have realized they had made a business mistake, not a political one," Yang said.

For Liu, this is a matter of principle. "As a Chinese person, it is of course intolerable," she said.

She thinks this is a matter of mutual respect and the beginning of a positive relationship between international luxury brands and Chinese consumers. 

For a long time, Chinese consumers have remained in a passive position in the international fashion world. Western culture and ways of thinking still dominate design, marketing and aesthetics in the fashion world, and they tend to ignore China's sovereignty, Liu said.

"Therefore, I think this large-scale online 'boycott' is actually a good opportunity to change Chinese consumers' lack of a voice in the international fashion world," said Liu.

Liu told the Global Times that she expects international brands to treat Chinese consumers more sincerely and respect China's sovereignty, as they stated.
Newspaper headline: Making voice heard


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