After yesterday’s outrage over Swedish retailer H&M’s boycott of Xinjiang sourced cotton that saw Huang Xuan and Victoria Song dissociating themselves from the brand, it appears Nike is the next one up to come under fire for its stance on the use of cotton sourced under alleged forced labour in the country’s Xinjiang region. As the social media storm continues to build, Wang Yibo and Seven Tan Songyun become the next celebrity endorsers to walk away from lucrative deals with sportswear giant Nike.
Chinese Celebrities Express Support for Xinjiang Cotton
In a statement released on March 25, the idol’s agency Yuehua Entertainment announced the termination of Wang Yibo’s partnership with Nike and that “our company and Mr. Wang Yibo firmly objects to any remarks and actions that stigmatise China. The dignity of the country cannot be violated and we resolutely safeguard the interests of the mother land.” Yibo also posted a separate message on his own social media page under the hashtag “I support Xinjiang Cotton” which has been making the rounds online.
Likewise, Seven Tan Songyun shared a statement in a similar vein, announcing that she has cut ties with the sportswear company and that “national interest are above all else. We firmly oppose any malicious actions aimed to discredit and spread rumours about China!” Like Wang Yibo, Seven also shared her support of Xinjiang cotton using the hashtag “I support Xinjiang Cotton”.
The hashtag to support Xinjiang Cotton that was originally posted by People’s Daily, which is China’s official newspaper, has started a wave on social media. It has been reshared by a number of celebrities that include Xinjiang natives Tong Liya, Guli Nazha and Hani Kezi as well as Simon Gong Jun, Xiao Zhan, Alan Yu Menglong, THE9 members Esther Yu Shuxin, Yu Yan, Lu Keran, Zhao Xiaotang, Babymonster An Qi, etc.
Netizens Turn Their Eye on Adidas
Also trending at number one (as of press time) is Adidas whose 2019 statement also indicates the brand’s zero tolerance against modern slavery. Unlike Nike whose statement directly addresses the forced labour allegations in Xinjiang, Adidas positioned their statement to focus more on the company’s values and policies, allocating only a short paragraph to indicate their stance that no part of its supply chain shall source its cotton and yarn from producers coming from Xinjiang.
Nonetheless, the backlash is on its way with Netizens already expecting statements from Adidas’ big celebrity endorsers like Yang Mi, Angelababy, Eason Chan, Jackson Wang, Crystal Liu Yifei, Dilraba Dilmurat and others also terminating their partnerships with the brand.
As the story continues to develop, more brands are expected to also come under fire for their stance to ban the use of Xinjiang cotton in their products. In fact hashtags for GAP, Fila, New Balance and ZARA have already been trending so it’s only a matter of time before we hear about the next company to rouse Netizen’s ire.
But if consumer’s boycott of Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana following the huge blow-up from allegations of racism is any indicator (so much so that D&G are now suing online fashion watchdog Diet Prada for lost revenues due to its expose), any boycott from one of the world’s biggest economies is bound to make a huge impact to a brand’s bottom line.
Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) Brand Members Whose Celebrity Endorsers Have Cut Ties (UPDATED 3/27)
H&M: Huang Xuan, Victoria Song
Nike: Wang Yibo, Seven Tan Songyun
Converse (Nike subsidiary): Lay Zhang Yixing, Bai Jingting, Ouyang Nana
Adidas / Adidas Originals: Jackson Yee, Crystal Liu Yifei, Yang Mi, Dilraba Dilmurat, Deng Lun, Angelababy, Eddie Peng, Janine Chang, Eason Chan, Chen Linong, Jackson Wang, Peng Yuchang, Cecilia Boey (Song Yanfei), Ryan Ding Yuxi, Zhao Lusi, Gina Jin Chen and Qiu Tian
Calvin Klein: Lay Zhang Yixing, THE9 member Liu Yuxin, Greg Hsu
Uniqlo: Jing Boran, Lei Jiayin, Ni Ni, Roy Wang Yuan
Puma: Li Xian, Yang Yang, Liu Haoran, Guli Nazha and Greg Hsu
New Balance: Meng Meiqi, Wendy Zhang Zifeng
Tommy Hilfiger: William Chan and Li Zhenning
Hugo Boss: Li Yifeng, Theo Zhu Zhengting and Xiao Gui (Wang Linkai)