Why Chinese People Won't Boycott Trump Fashion

 Beijing bureau

In a week that saw a political storm after Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump fashion lines and reports in the US media that her younger sister Tiffany Trump was "shunned" at New York Fashion Week, there was one unlikely win for the first family.

Headlines like "Tiffany Trump is having an awkward time at New York Fashion Week" only served as a reminder that several high-profile designers have been very public in their boycott of the Trump family. But at Chinese designer, Tao Wang's show, Tiffany Trump - US President Donald Trump's youngest daughter - took pride of place in the front row. People in China sat up and took notice and reveled in the attention they paid to a rare example of a homegrown designer. The moral and ethical quandaries front and center for other designers were simply not an issue. Ms Trump became a fan of Tao Wang's brand, Toray Wang after she first hit the New York catwalks in 2016. "I think Tao's aesthetic is just unparalleled. She puts so much effort into the slightest detail," Ms. Trump told The Hollywood Report.

And at her father's inauguration, Taoray Wang's all-white coat and the dress was Tiffany's suit of choice - said to cost $2,500-$3,700 (£2005-£2967). She also wore Toray Wang during her father's election campaign. "I have, to be honest, I feel very proud and grateful that she chose Toray Wang for the inauguration," the 49-year old designer Tao told W magazine. She is one designer who has decided that the controversy surrounding the US president should not extend to his daughter. For her, there are clearly other factors at stake, which resonate with much Chinese aware that the creative industries in their country need as much support as they can get.

"I co-operate with international celebrities and all these leaders," she told AFP. And this particular relationship seems to be a close one. Ms. Tao said she valued Ms. Trump as a wonderful young lady who is very warm and down-to-earth, as well as generous and full of encouragement. Tiffany Trump for her part said they talk a lot and work closely together.

Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump's line from its outlets citing poor sales but a parallel Twitter campaign encouraging consumers to boycott Trump fashion has left many social media users in China unmoved. For them, a global stage for a Chinese designer became more important than the escalating row over the ethics of buying goods that might endorse a controversial president.

In China, Mr. Trump is certainly a notorious figure and his Twitter outbursts have ranged from Taiwan, economic policy and trade to security issues in the South China Sea. Yet Tiffany Trump choosing Wang has even been greeted with a touch of gratitude. On Weibo, Chinese netizens said Wang "showcases how excellent Chinese designers are". "It shows broad and profound Chinese culture." It's about nationalism and showcasing Chinese innovation and creativity. It's also about good business.

Chinese manufacturers are producing Trump-related products. Trump flags, Trump masks, Trump T-shirts are selling everywhere on Taobao, China's top e-commerce website. Caile Inflatable Products Company, located in Zhejiang province, was busy making inflatable chicken balloons with the likeness to Mr. Trump ahead of Chinese New Year, beginning the year of the rooster. Wei Qing, the factory manager, told the BBC: "We are businessmen. Of course, we would like to think positively about Trump's influence on China. If these Trump chicken balloons can boost our business or even global economy, it would be fantastic." "Chinese people's attitudes towards Trump is dependent on their own advancement," he said. "If he said something that would have a negative effect, Chinese people would dislike him," Jia Xiudong, senior research fellow at the China Institute of international studies in Beijing, told the BBC.

But Chinese feminists have continued to speak out against Trump - they think they have a hard enough job with sexual discrimination and male chauvinism in China. Zheng Churan, one of China's most prominent women's rights activists even gave him the label of "straight man cancer", a term referring male chauvinism. She sent an open letter to Mr. Trump last December, saying feminists are watching him.

Last month, several dozen Chinese feminists joined the Women's March in Washington, holding slogans like "Nasty Chinese women say NO", "We demand feminist world leaders", and "Sexism is a disease. Feminism is your cure". But many of those social media users on Weibo see it a different way. Tiffany Trump's endorsement of Tao Wang is a chance to showcase a Chinese woman trumpeting her own creative business on the global stage. And many see that as a kind of triumph.

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Domain: Afterhours
Category: Fashion

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