Balenciaga issues 2nd apology after claims of discrimination against Chinese shoppers

Fashion house Balenciaga, owned by French luxury group Kering SA, issued a second, longer apology after reports of a scuffle between Chinese and other shoppers in a Paris shop led to claims in China of racial discrimination by store staff.


The Balenciaga store in Printemps

In a Chinese social media post on Saturday after calls for a boycott by some internet users in China, Balenciaga said it sincerely apologised to all Chinese customers and other shoppers over the incident, which occurred on Wednesday.

According to Chinese media reports, staff of a Balenciaga outlet in a Printemps department store told Chinese customers to leave after a confrontation with other shoppers.

Considering the “seriousness” of the matter, Balenciaga said on Saturday it had temporarily suspended management staff present during the incident pending the outcome of an investigation.

In the incident, according to Chinese media, a Chinese woman queuing to enter the store scolded a group of shoppers who jumped the queue. The woman was pushed by one of the queue jumpers, according to Chinese media, prompting her son to come to her defence before both were asked to leave by store staff.

Balenciaga issued a first apology on Thursday, but it did not identify the customers to whom it offered the apology as Chinese, prompting scorn among some Chinese social media users. The hashtag #BoycottBalenciagaDiscriminatesChinese spread across social media service Weibo, drawing millions of page views. 

Paris is a favourite European destination of Chinese travellers, and they are crucial clients for French luxury brands. Long lines of customers from China and other countries are common at Parisian stores.

But big-spending Chinese tourists have become targets for thieves in France, with the embassy issuing a statement last year urging them to exercise caution following "several large-scale violent robberies".

With AFP

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