Luxury brand Norlha Atelier removes wrong Tibetan Plateau location listing on website after drawing ire from Chinese netizens
Published: Jan 06, 2022 12:17 AM
The Qinghai-Xizang Highway Photo: VCG

The Qinghai-Xizang Highway Photo: VCG

Norlha Atelier, a luxury brand founded by a Tibetan American featuring hand-woven, sustainable yak fur products, has faced sharp criticism in China for listing out stores located in the Tibetan Plateau, including the provinces of Gansu, Yunnan, and Tibet Autonomous Region, separately with stores in the rest of the country. 

The Global Times found on Wednesday morning that on the official website of Norlha, its stores across the world were divided, based on geographical location, into categories, namely "Europe," "Tibetan Plateau," "China," "Japan" and "Online."

Under the sub-category of "Tibetan Plateau," it listed flagship stores in Northwest China's Gansu Province, and Southwest China's Yunnan Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region, while under the sub-category of "China," there were only a few cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. 

The brand has yet to respond to a Global Times inquiry as of press time. 

Some netizens on China's Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo lashed out at such an arrangement. "It is hard to believe that it [the brand] was unintentional, and it also showed just how much ethnic separatism has soaked through people's lives," one netizen wrote. 

However, others held different opinions, saying that the categorization was not meant to irritate the Chinese audience but to highlight the uniqueness of their products' origin. 

The Global Times noticed that other than the controversial stock list, the brand identified its location as "Ritoma Village, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu, China."

The stock list on the Norlha website has already been changed on Wednesday afternoon, which removed the category of "Tibetan Plateau" and integrated it into that of "China."

The brand was awarded "Best of the World" by B Corp Certification, conferred by a global nonprofit organization with offices in the US, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, "arecognition for being part of the top 10 percentile of companies which make the greatest community impact in the world," read an article on the Norlha website. 

Its collaboration partners include Selfridges, Mr. Porter, Louis Vuitton and Egg Trading.

The founder, Dechen Yeshi, 39, was born in the US to a Tibetan father and an American mother. She moved to a village in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in 2004. According to Yeshi, the employment opportunities created by her yak wool workshop have provided local Tibetans a steady source of income and enabled them to invest more in their future without having to move to big cities. 

Aside from new houses and new cars, "new restaurants, shops and small businesses have cropped up as a result of disposable income," Yeshi told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Global Times