Chinese actor Liu Haoran was called out by many on Chinese social media after he walked for Balenciaga at Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 1.
Why they’re angry: Netizens took issue for two reasons: first, Balenciaga was once accused of mistreating Chinese shoppers, and second, Liu’s modeling coincided with China’s National Day.
“Walking for a brand that disrespected China on National Day? Bro, are you out of your mind?” one comment said, according to Singapore outlet Today.
Others expressed frustration at those who have forgotten. “Sure enough, the Chinese people have no memory,” one wrote, as per Sin Chew Daily.
What happened in 2018: The Spanish-founded, French-based fashion house sparked outrage in China in 2018 after one of its Paris stores allegedly mistreated two Chinese shoppers. At the time, the store was holding a sales event.
Reports say the mistreatment started after a Chinese shopper called out a group of five non-Chinese individuals for cutting a queue. One of them allegedly shoved and threatened to beat her.
The woman’s son tried to protect her, but the rest of the group allegedly ganged up and beat him. A security guard reportedly intervened but “only handled that Chinese guy.”
Below are clips from the incident:
The aftermath: The chaos led to the cancellation of the sales event. Footage of the incident also spread on Chinese social media, drawing fury.
Shortly after the incident, Balenciaga released a statement to apologize. “Balenciaga sincerely apologizes to the customers who were present and reaffirms its strong commitment to respect equally all its customers,” the company said.
Criticizing Balenciaga: Chinese netizens have also been vocal in their criticism of Balenciaga’s products in recent years. In 2020, Weibo users slammed the brand for releasing “ugly,” “tacky” and “tasteless” bags, which came with an ad campaign that reminded them of “photography studios in rural China in the 1990s.”