Chinese netizens slam Dior over 'cultural appropriation'

Han Jing
The luxury fashion house is accused of copying the design of a traditional Chinese dress in its fall collection.
Han Jing

One of the fashion industry's most influential brands, Dior, has been accused by Chinese netizens of "copying" the design of a traditional Chinese skirt style.

Chinese social media users say the mid-length pleated skirt from the French fashion house's 2022 fall collection, priced at 29,000 yuan (US$4,293) on its Website, is very similar to the mamianqun, or "horse-face" pleated skirt similar to an apron and a typical hanfu (the traditional dress of Han Chinese people) skirt worn by women in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Chinese netizens slam Dior over 'cultural appropriation'

The pleated skirt sold in Dior's online shop.

Chinese netizens slam Dior over 'cultural appropriation'

A traditional mamianqun.

Hanfu traditionalists are offended by the brand's description of the skirt on the Website – "a hallmark Dior silhouette," which they say is utter "cultural appropriation."

Shanghai Daily found on Wednesday that the skirt is currently not available when selecting "the Chinese mainland" option on the brand's Website, but the product remains on the shelf in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Taiwan.

Hanfu blogger "只只七二" explained tailoring details in a video posted on Weibo on Tuesday, saying that Dior's flared skirt had identical cutting and sewing methods as a mamianqun – two pieces of fabric sewn to a waistband without being stitched to each other, pleated on both sides.

Chinese netizens slam Dior over 'cultural appropriation'
Zhi Zhi Qi Er / Weibo

Blogger "只只七二" compares the Dior skirt with a traditional hanfu skirt.

Zhang Jiawei, associate partner with Shanghai Shenkang Law Firm, told Shanghai Daily that both the features and its source of inspiration should be taken into account in determining whether a product has infringed intellectual property rights or not.

China's intangible cultural heritage protection institutions have the right to pursue legal avenues, Zhang added.

Dior had yet to respond to the controversy by Wednesday and had closed the comment section on its Weibo account.

It is not the first time the luxury brand has faced criticism on China's social media.

A poster featuring a model by well-known Chinese portrait photographer Chen Man used at an exhibition in Shanghai last November was slammed as "uglifying Chinese women."

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