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Mercedes-Benz, Gucci accused of stereotyping Asian beauty

Mercedes-Benz, Gucci accused of stereotyping Asian beauty

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Italian luxury fashion brand Gucci and German automotive company Mercedes-Benz were  thrust into the spotlight this holiday season by unhappy Chinese netizens for promoting western ideals of beauty. 

A little over a week ago, Mercedes-Benz was criticised by netizens in China after it launched an ad featuring a Chinese model with slanted eyes.  Chinese netizens on Weibo said that the ad was trying to draw comparison of the models eyes to the headlights on the Mercedes car- leading to a heated discussion around Western stereotypes of Asian beauty.

Since then, the brand has removed the ad and it can no longer be seen on Weibo. Meanwhile, the hashtag "Mercedes-Benz model's make-up is controversial" gained more than 1.7 million views. 

Not spared from the watchful eyes and criticism of Chinese netizens, Gucci was also called out for featuring an Asian-looking model with small eyes and what some deemed as rather unconventional make up. Chinese state media the Global Times said the model was dressed up in an "exaggerated" manner with nose ring and a leather whip in her hand.

The image put up by Gucci in December, was promoting its new series of bamboo top handle bags, Gucci's new post read, "Inspired by an archival design from the ‘40s, a bamboo top handle bag is reimagined by #AlessandroMichele with colourful geometric patterns in a nod to the House’s equestrian heritage."

After the poster came under the spotlight on China's social media platform Sina Weibo, the Global Times found on Wednesday that the luxury brand did not show the model's photos on its Weibo account, only showing photos of the bag, while on Twitter both the model and the bag were visible.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to both companies for a statement. 

In November 2021, French fashion brand Dior came under attack from Chinese social media users as an image of a Chinese model with dark skin dressed in traditional attire holding a Dior bag made its rounds in the market. While some claimed the brand to be “smearing” the image of Chinese women, others said the photo depicted an image that is different from what a typical standard of beauty in China is - fair skin and large eyes.

Despite the image being taken by famous Chinese fashion photographer, Chen Man, Dior removed the image on social media without an explanation.

Understandably, the luxury brand took the move to prevent further offending a market that is one of the biggest global contributors to the world of luxury. Chen then stepped up and apologised for the image. She said on her Weibo account, "I blame myself for my immaturity and ignorance." 

(Photo courtesy: Twitter)

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