American shoes and apparel company, Vans, is in the midst of a complicated situation as it is looking at a boycott in the semi-autonomous state of Hong Kong. The possible ban is in relation to a shoe-design that was submitted as one of the entries in the company's shoe design competition.
The Vans Custom Culture competition is a contest where people submit their unique designs for the shoes and the winner is awarded $25000. Alongside this cash prize, the winner also gets the lifetime opportunity to get their designs manufactured by the American brand. After the entries were submitted, an online voting system saw one particular design garnered a lot of attention as it was based on this year's Hong Kong protests that have now been going on for approximately 4 months now.
The "popular" design had Hong Kong's flag and one of the yellow-coloured umbrellas that have been termed as one of the symbols signifying the months-long protests. The design also has a group of demonstrators wearing gas masks along with goggles shields to cover their heads. As the design entry was taken down from their website, Vans issued a statement that said the brand has never been a part of something that is politically motivated. Therefore, the sole motive to take down the design was to uphold the values and cultures of the people of Hong Kong.
The above-mentioned statement quickly became a subject of intense criticism with many people calling for a boycott against the popular shoe company. Some people were of the opinion that Vans did not care about the sentiments of the people in Hong Kong rather they were a company that was money minded. Some even called the move by Vans to curb the freedom of speech and expression.
Vans build the wall to ban the value of freedom and democracy.— chengching 😷 (@chengching11) October 5, 2019
Vans, educate us to be the slave of money! the slave of China CCP, as it provides the huge market.
I thinks Vans can have the new slogan "Money, money, we love money" ~ pic.twitter.com/58JngqqbaG
The past few months have seen Hong Kong be a subject to anti-government demonstrations, over the issue of a controversial extradition bill. The protests off late has of late seen a rise in violent activities by protesters and police alike. Recently, a young protester was shot in the chest with a gun during a violent confrontation between the people protesting and the cops.
Nike shelved various products in China after a designer appeared to show support for the anti-government protests. Luxury brands such as Versace likewise experienced harsh criticism from Chinese customers for items that neglected to distinguish Hong Kong as a part of China.
(with agency inputs)