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Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation: Can Chinese Luxury Brands See the Difference? | Marketing

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Dior, a French luxury fashion house, has a flared skirt from the Fall 2022 collection branded as a “characteristic silhouette” that closely resembles a traditional Chinese horse-faced skirt dating back to the Song and Ming dynasties. It has been severely criticized in China since it turned out to be.Chinese netizens, official media, etc. Global Times When People’s Daily Blame 10 “copy” and “cultural appropriation” brandsth Century clothing.

To give a little background, the skirt in question made its debut on the runway in Seoul in April this year. In a post-show note, Dior artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri said the collection was inspired by school uniforms and aimed at paying homage to Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine. “Maria Grazia Chiuri is interested in school costumes, and above all, students dust, revamp, update, personalize with unique details and focus on the overtones of punk. Since then, I’ve been adventuring in the cityscape in search of space. Freedom, an excerpt from the shownote I read.

Horse face skirt, or mǎmiàn qún In Mandarin, it is an ancient Chinese garment with four skirt doors overlapping on the front and back, and the layered part of the skirt door is called the “horse face”.Chinese netizens, Dior luxury skirts mǎmiàn qúnIt has openings and side pleats on the front and back, and was originally designed to facilitate women’s riding. The only difference is the length. The orthodox mǎmiànqún is floor length, while the Dior version is below the knee.

“The so-called Dior silhouette is very similar to the Chinese horse face skirt. Why is it shamelessly” new design “and” characteristic Dior silhouette “even though many details are the same? Are you called? People.cnAnd translated by South China Morning Post..

China is a very important market for luxury brands, accounting for about one-third of the world’s total luxury spending. At Weibo, #DiorPlagiarism has already won over 20 million views over the weekend. Dior has not officially responded and instead banned comments on recent Weibo posts, stopped online sales of this particular skirt on the mainland, and is showing “sold out” in the Hong Kong market.

Photographer Chen Man’s Dior photo received fierce backlash from Chinese netizens and the media


This is not the first time Dior has been involved in a controversy in China. In November 2021, the brand was accused of perpetuating Chinese prejudice and Western stereotypes through an exhibition in Shanghai.

In the past, Dolce & Gabbana has been accused of neglecting Chinese culture and has become a full-fledged public relations crisis in China. These are just a few recent examples of insensitive and perceived cultural appropriation that have brought epidemics under scanners.

Cultural appropriation claims are nothing new, but the hyper-aware era of social media creates more conversation about what is acceptable in fashion.Taobao and AliExpress Quick Search mǎmiàn qún Thousands of results have been obtained and the designs are similar. It’s okay for high fashion to be inspired by culture, but is it rude to claim design as unique without mentioning Chinese heritage? motion Ask the expert an important question-is there a cultural appropriation issue in high fashion? Brand experts will join.

Pete Lin
North Asian CEO, We Are Social

Dior’s response to this situation cannot be understood. All you need is one post to Weibo, which was inspired by traditional Chinese design and should have been easily appreciated and respected by Chinese consumers. Instead, they were accused and chose not to say anything. It convicts them by default in public opinion forums. Therefore, the difference between inspiration and diversion was brought about by Dior’s communications team. There is no cultural appropriation issue in high fashion. However, there are communication issues, at least in this particular case.

Blythe Whitwam
Marketing consultant co-host of the Shanghai Zhan podcast

“Chinese culture and innovation have been celebrated and copied for thousands of years, so why do people suddenly see Dior’s actions as cultural appropriation? Welcome to the world of social media where you can do that. According to media reports, if this skirt was previewed in December and appeared on the runway in Seoul in April this year, it will be available in stores as well as at the same time. Why did the angry netizens take four months to respond? According to the show, Dior’s lead designer paid tribute to Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine. I was always inspired by school uniforms when it came to personalizing.

Originally these traditional uniforms reminded me of Catherine Dior growing up in Paris in the 1930s. mamianqun Or a horse face skirt design? What does Dior need to do to inspire fans with a few history lessons on social media and show that traditional Chinese design has a positive impact on the fashion world?

China has made such a great contribution to the world that its designs and inventions are now ubiquitous, making the cultural appropriation debate almost meaningless. “

Olivia Protonic
Founder of Y Social

The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”. The discussions in Dior’s case, and in other similar cases previously seen with Chinese luxury brands, are very high because some are clearly based on the belief that they belong to a particular culture and draw inspiration. It’s complicated. Similar to stealing, or at least rude. If we have to separate yours from mine, it can be a very complicated and impossible task.

Now we are living in the 21st century. At that time, almost all creations “inherit” inspiration from all over the world, intentionally or unintentionally. But here we can be confident that the dispute over ownership is a very serious problem in China. Brands need to keep in mind that if they want to succeed in the Chinese market, they need to follow the rules. Brands need to ask themselves. Did you form a special team to support your self-investigation before launching anything? If this happens again, can we afford the loss? Are you ready to apologize for something, even if you are innocent from your point of view?

Daniel Langer
CEO of Pepperdine University, California, Professor of Luxury Strategy and Extreme Value Creation

One of the most important success factors in an increasingly globalized world is the development of cultural empathy. This means promoting a deeper understanding, acceptance, and awareness of cultural differences. Mistakes can occur, but it’s important for luxury brands to be proactive, open, and transparent in responding to and facilitating dialogue with their audience.

Many cross-cultural trainings conducted with Western luxury brands to gain a better understanding of the expectations and peculiarities of Chinese luxury customers have found it to be an important challenge for many non-Chinese managers. Without much deeper cultural empathy, brands run the risk of alienating their customers as they become more and more dependent on countries like China.

Caitlin Chan
Oval Branding CEO

Dior’s main issues are in brand management and public relations communication. It is difficult to clearly argue whether this is the case of cultural appropriation or whether it is creatively inspired by another era or culture. But if these Western high-fashion brands repeatedly cause controversy among Chinese consumers who are fed up with contempt, it is clear that the damage will occur. It’s shocking if Dior hasn’t officially responded to this controversy yet.

They need to develop a communication plan to explain how designers were inspired and what steps the company took to protect products and ads from cultural appropriation. If they actually borrowed from Chinese design, they can acknowledge, apologize and turn around by emphasizing the history and heritage of China that they were inspired by. They can launch a campaign to celebrate Han-style clothing and Chinese designers. Why not take this as a great opportunity to boost your brand’s reputation among critics? Whenever faced with a reputational decline, every brand needs to do whatever it takes to remedy the situation. Keeping silence and expecting the problem to go away is not the solution.

Simon webbe
Senior Vice President Ogilvy

I think the problem is more about attribution than diversion. Designers are artists, and the best artists have always been free to inspire from a wide range of sources. In this case, it is clearly always important to acknowledge where you have drawn inspiration without expressing a particular judgment with Dior (the same as protecting your reputation for your own integrity). About).

In fact, this approval may only be the beginning of how a brand or designer chooses to interact with a traditional design or knowledge manager. Allow representatives of these communities to participate in the commercial and creative processes of the product. There are also things to consider.

We work extensively with our clients to help them understand, identify and ultimately eliminate risks in this way. And both tasks are important. That is, it establishes a process that raises awareness of the various risk factors currently present in the sector and ensures that they are flagged before they are put on the market.

Ashrigalina Dudarenok
Founder of ChoZan Super And Araris

For me, the Dior case is not a potential cultural appropriation issue. It may seem like that, but it doesn’t seem to understand the Chinese market. Chinese netizens opposed the use of Dior’s design, not only because it used traditional Chinese components, but also mainly because Dior called the skirt a “new design” and infuriated it. Chinese netizens today are culturally sensitive and sensitive, especially when it comes to the behavior of well-known brands. Global brand names need to spend more time and money with Chinese consumers to know how to recognize certain actions, signals, products, messages and tags.

Lily Wen
Associate Partner, Prophet

Today’s consumers are increasingly demanding the purpose and value of the brands they support. Traditional risk-averse PR approaches are no longer sufficient. Through these recent debates, we can see a bigger question that talks about the hierarchical fashion industry, the evolving consumer, and what it takes to lead the future of fashion.

Historically, the fashion industry has always been very top-down and centralized. Designer labels are the authority to define “reading” and set trends for each season. Established fashion houses are in power when dealing with other fashion worlds, other designers, and consumers.

However, in recent years there has been constant change around the world, with the rise of more modern labels and new designers forming a genuine perspective closer to their culture. This is because consumers are inevitably evolving. Consumers are younger, more insightful, more rational about the “value” of fashion, and eager for cultural credibility and original design. Being bold does not mean being insensitive. Having a strong perspective is consistent with celebrating diversity. Fashion and design exist not to help people project power, but to enable real expression.

For this reason, fashion companies need to take a closer look at the growing number of consumers in the future, especially in important markets like China, and rethink the implications of leadership in fashion. Future leaders in fashion will collaborate, collaborate, create, embrace and inspire. When top designers get inspiration, they are proud to recognize their origins and history in front of consumers in every market, telling stories of how to turn inspiration into new creations.

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