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Charles & Keith 'customises' bag for Tiktok teen, while brands continue to trend jack

Charles & Keith 'customises' bag for Tiktok teen, while brands continue to trend jack

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The Internet (and Charles & Keith) has once again proved that kindness wins above all after the fashion brand sent two custom bags to a teenager who went viral on TikTok last week for labelling a Charles & Keith bag a “luxury” item. The teen, Zoe Gabriel, was seen unboxing two gift boxes that included a black Charlot bag as well as a personalised Gabine leather saddle bag from the brand in a new TikTok video that was posted to her channel this weekend.

“Dear [Gabriel], welcome to the Charles & Keith family,” the brand wrote in a card attached to the gift. “Hope you enjoyed your time in our HQ campus and meeting our founders – we are all so impressed with the grace in how you handled the situation and displaying values that resonate with us greatly.”

The card continued by adding that they hoped the gift will remind her of the special moment where she inspired others to be kind, compassionate and confident.

Don't miss: Charles & Keith invites teen slammed online for lunch to HQ. Should brands speak up?

The 17-year-old had initially posted a video on the social media platform thanking her father for gifting her first luxury bag from Charles & Keith. The bag, which is priced at SG$79.90 on the brand’s site, is a black double handle tote bag. She was later mocked online by some users who insisted that Charles & Keith is not a luxury brand and that the bag was inexpensive.

The backlash prompted Gabriel to post a second video where she tearfully explained that her family did not have much while she was growing up and that even bread from local bakery BreadTalk was a luxury. She added that while SG$79.90 might not be a lot to most people, it was to her and that she knew her father worked very hard for the money and bag.

The videos gained significant traction online and a spokesperson from Charles & Keith confirmed to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE last week that the company is aware of the trending story and that they have managed to connect with Gabriel. She added that Gabriel and her dad had also been invited down by the company to meet the founders over lunch and to have a tour of the HQ campus, at their convenience. Gabriel managed to visit the brand’s headquarters in Tai Seng last Thursday with her father and was given a tour of the building. She even got to sit down with one of the founders, Keith Wong, to learn about the history of the brand and what happens behind the scenes.

“A community that shows kindness and compassion is exactly what the world needs today and what the brand stands for,” the spokesperson from Charles & Keith said. She added that the brand was created as its founders believe that the products produced should spark joy, empower fashion lovers and give them confidence - something the brand believes Gabriel presented eloquently in her video.

“Our heart really went out to Gabriel when we saw the videos and comments – there is no place for bullying, be it online or offline – but we were so impressed with the grace and humility in how she handled the situation, displaying wisdom far beyond her years and values that resonated with us greatly. Her parents deserve much credit and must be proud to have raised such a grounded, resilient young woman,” she said.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE found out last week that the brand had more plans with regards to Gabriel although more was not shared at the time. 

Brands jumping on the conversation

Since the incident many other brands have reached out to Gabriel in support. Some of these brands include the likes of Jesmonite workshop brand Chokmah who offered Gabriel a free workshop session and active wear company Gym Wear Movement that reached out to gift her an outfit.

 chokmah jesmonite

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She has also been approached publicly on her social media pages by restaurants such as Blanco Court Beef Noodles, House of Seafood Singapore and more who have offered a free meal for Gabriel and her family in a show of support. The teen has also taken up Takagi Ramen’s offer on a $80 in meal and local hair salon Kimistry Hair Boutique for her “new look” in a video post.

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According to CARMA when monitoring social conversations in Singapore, it also noted that netizens called on the company to sponsor this girl and send her gifts. “Marketers would be inclined to agree this will turn the story around and result in positive earned brand mentions,” explained a spokesperson from CARMA.

“However, it is important to realise that incidents relating to money and income are very sensitive and personal. If the company’s purpose is to simply capitalise on the trending conversations, this may make the brand appear inauthentic,” said the spokesperson at CARMA. “Today’s audience value authenticity. If the people behind the brand are truly touched by the content creator’s words, the way Charles & Keith responds must reflect it.”

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Charles & Keith for an additional statement on their latest initiative with Gabriel.

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