Philipp Plein accused of racism
The German designer, who is based in Italy, was aiming to build a community on Chinese social networks, but the phrase "Fuck You China" on the label of a collection from 2007 recently surfaced, causing controversy.
The controversy first arose when Philipp Plein first launched an account on the social network Weibo. Users soon after published photos of a label from 2007 that, accompanied by "Made in Europe", features the harsh message for the world superpower.
While the reference to the ubiquity of Chinese low-cost production seems obvious to Western consumers, the same does not hold true for their Chinese counterparts, who primarily buy European and American brands.
Faced with boycotts and demands for an apology, Plein responded that the label was for a line dubbed "Kiss You China". He insisted that his intention was not to offend. Since the line was released, Plein has opened 10 stores in China, with 4 others to follow.
This mishap once again underscores the growing importance of Weibo in China in the promotion of brands as well as in terms of controversy. French company Zadig&Voltaine faced a similar experience in 2012 when its founder, Thierry Gillier, explained that his hotel project would "not be open to Chinese tourists."
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