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Chanel under fire in China for executive’s remarks over racist incident
Published: May 17, 2021 03:55 PM
Perfume Chanel No. 5 Photo: AFP

Perfume Chanel No. 5 Photo: AFP

French fashion brand Chanel is once again under fire in China, where some Chinese consumers expressed outrage and even vowed to boycott the company's products, after an executive at the firm appeared to show support for its long-term partner Michel Gaubert who apologized in April for a video showcasing racist masks.

The new wave of anger toward Chanel started after Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel, said earlier this month that while Chanel does not tolerate any form of racism, it has decided to continue working with Gaubert, according to fashion news website wwd.com.

"Michel is a talented man who's very respectful of others, and he's apologized for his actions. He is mortified, because he never intended to offend anyone. He's a long-term partner of the house, and you don't abandon a partner because of an incident," he was quoted as saying by wwd.com.

"Chanel just jumped out to accept [Gaubert's] apology on behalf of us… and even said that it would not cancel cooperation over such small things," a user of social media Sina Weibo commented, "This really pisses me off. And I just bought a pair of sunglasses yesterday."

In response to the Global Times' inquiry regarding Pavlovsky's comments, a Chanel spokesperson said that Pavlovsky "did not accept Michel Gaubert's apologies on behalf on the AAPI community, but during a recent interview, noted that he did apologize."

The spokesperson added that "Chanel denounces all forms of racism, discrimination, and violence, and stands in solidarity with all communities that face racism around the world. As such, we all understand the hurtful nature of the video posted on Michel Gaubert's social networks. Chanel teams have spoken with him, insisting on how offensive and unacceptable this was."

Gaubert apologized in April after a video he posted showcasing slanted-eye masks with guests screaming "Wuhan girls, wahoo" sparked widespread outrage in China and the broader Asian community for being racist. The video also featured a song called "Wuhan girl," which also contained discriminatory language.

After drawing furious backlash, Gaubert later deleted the video and explained that the background music was not played by him, and he did not realize that it involved discrimination. He posted a statement on April 9 saying that he apologizes again to anyone who was hurt by his post, hating Asians is unacceptable and he is against racism in all its forms, guancha.com reported. 

However, some netizens did not accept his apology, saying that it was too fake because he did not even realize the racism even as hatred toward Asians had been reported widely across the world in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pavlovsky's latest comments just made it worse, with some accusing the Chanel executive being dismissive and insensitive over a serious issue. 

As of Monday noon, the topic "Chanel insulting China" has attracted more than 3.65 million views and over 3,200 comments, which are overwhelmingly critical of Pavlovsky's comments.










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