More Chinese students overseas join protest against Dior's 'cultural appropriation' of traditional Chinese design
Published: Jul 26, 2022 12:07 AM
Chinese students in Paris protest outside a Dior store on July 23, 2022 against the brand's
Chinese students in Paris protest outside a Dior store on July 23, 2022 against the brand's "cultural appropriation" of traditional Chinese designs. Photo: Courtesy of Huatoujing

More Chinese students overseas are joining the protests against Dior's "cultural appropriation" of the traditional Chinese horse face skirt design and the silence of the brand on the controversy.

Luxury brand Dior recently found itself in hot water again on Chinese social media platforms as many lovers of Hanfu, a traditional Chinese garment, accused the brand's new "hallmark Dior silhouette" of copying the design of the traditional Chinese horse face skirt.

Baliwuhao, Daren and Lanruoruo (all pseudonyms) are among the Chinese college students in Paris who love wearing a Hanfu and often stroll down the streets in the traditional Chinese garment to introduce their culture to those who are interested.

The students organized a protest at a square near Dior's flagship store in Paris on Saturday, holding pictures that compared Dior's new skirt with the traditional Chinese horse face skirt, and banners saying: "This is a traditional Chinese dress," "Dior plagiarized the design" and "Stop cultural appropriation."

"I was furious when Dior claimed the skirt as its original design while it resembles Chinese horse face skirt so much that anyone who knows about the Hanfu can immediately tell it is a copy," said Baliwuhao, who first lodged the protest on July 18 and gathered about 100 supporters on Saturday.

Baliwuhao said she was very touched by the fact that nearly 100 people participated in the protest. Some of the participants came from other cities in France and even from Spain and Italy.

The student protesters wish to get more attention and support from people who are not aware of Dior's cultural appropriation due to the little knowledge about traditional Chinese garments. The protesters urged the luxury brand to apologize for the plagiarism and to stop selling the skirt at its stores.

"Two middle-aged women from Mexico said they support our activity of defending our culture. A man from Algeria said Dior has done something very similar using Algerian culture but there was little he could do to stop it," Lanruoruo told the Global Times

Although anti-China elements tried to sabotage our demonstration, we still did our best to successfully carry on with it, said Daren, noting that similar protests will be held in New York and London.

"We got in touch with Chinese students in New York and London who have already submitted protest applications to the police and we will share our experience with them, "said Baliwuhao.

As more Chinese students overseas are joining the protests against Dior's cultural appropriation, the fashion company has yet to make a comment on the controversy.

Responding to the Global Times' enquiry over the issue, Dior said in an email on Monday that they have received the message and have forwarded it to the relevant department. "Your opinion and suggestions are of great value to us as they allow us to continuously improve our customer service," read Dior's reply.

Although the skirt has been taken off the shelves in Dior's online stores in the Chinese mainland, the product is still available at other online stores without mentioning that the skirt's design was inspired by Chinese traditional clothes.

It is not the first time for Dior to be in hot water in China. In November 2021, the brand displayed a controversial photo at its Shanghai fashion exhibition. The company was accused of portraying Asian women as ugly after the publication of a photo showed an apparently frightening Asian woman with "greasy hair and scary eyelids" wearing a traditional Chinese dress and holding a Dior bag.