Nike brand ambassadors actor Wang Yibo and actress Tan Songyun. Getty Images.
Nike brand ambassadors Wang Yibo and Tan Songyun have announced via statements on social media platform Weibo that they are ending their affiliation with the US sportswear giant over its stance against using cotton sourced from the Xinjiang region.
China’s biggest sneaker resale site, Dewu, known as Poizen in English, also announced it had removed all Nike products indefinitely from its platform. BoF reached out to Nike for comment but the company did not reply prior to publication.
This follows the backlash yesterday against fast fashion giant H&M when a year-old statement was circulated on Chinese social media sites, which indicated that the brand would no longer use cotton sourced from Xinjiang as its sourcing partner the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) was not able to guarantee its supply chain was free of forced labour.
By the end of the day, H&M products had been removed from China’s major e-commerce sites, including Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com and Chinese celebrities Huang Xuan and Song Qian had both announced their intention to cut ties with the brand.
Today, Xinjiang’s largest shopping centre, Jiahui Shidai, in the region’s capital of Urumqi also announced on Weibo it would shutter its H&M store.
The many global brands that have spoken out against sourcing from Xinjiang, as well as those affiliated with BCI, including New Balance and Burberry, must be wondering who is next. Honour of Kings, a hugely popular mobile game produced by Chinese tech giant Tencent, announced today that it will cancel a highly-anticipated collaboration with Burberry, for which Riccardo Tisci, Burberry’s chief creative officer had designed two ‘skins’ for the mobile game’s heroine, Yao. No specific reason was cited for the cancellation. Later on Thursday evening, Zhou Dongyu and Song Weilong announced they would no longer appear as brand ambassadors for Burberry.
Adidas, which has partnerships with many Chinese celebrity ambassadors, along with Uniqlo, became trending topics on Chinese social media today as companies that have also taken a stand against using Xinjiang cotton. Adidas Neo ambassador Dilraba Dilmurat announced she had parted ways with the company by late afternoon local time on Thursday, with Eason Chan and Liu Yifen also announcing they will terminate their contracts with Adidas soon after. Uniqlo ambassadors Ni Ni, Jing Boran and Wang Yuan all announced via Weibo they would no longer work with the Japanese fast fashion brand.
Celebrity ambassador, Lay Zhang, who promotes many international brands in the China market, has announced he will no longer work with Calvin Klein or Converse and the latter brand also lost Bai Jingting as a spokesperson.
However, one international brand that has doubled-down on the use of Xinjiang cotton is Japanese lifestyle retailer Muji, which said on Thursday that its stores in China will continue to carry products made with Xinjiang cotton, according to a Nikkei Asia report.
The company’s apparel with a label reading “Xinjiang cotton” was clearly displayed on its Tmall store on Thursday. It is not clear if Muji is also using Xinjiang cotton for clothes sold in Japan or other markets outside of China.