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Vans reportedly removes submission depicting Hong Kong protesters from design competition, sparking heated backlash and boycott

Author: Jordyn Holman, Bloomberg, Published on: 8 October 2019

“Vans Is Latest U.S. Company Caught Up in Hong Kong Protests”, 8 Oct 2019

… During its annual shoe-design competition that is currently underway, Vans reportedly removed a submission from its website that depicted both a flower symbol of Hong Kong and protesters wearing gas masks, goggles and hard hats. The move sparked heated backlash across social media. Some called for a boycott of the skateboarding shoe brand popular with young people after it pulled the submission.

In statement posted on its Facebook page, Vans said: “We have never taken a political position and therefore review designs to ensure they are in line with our company’s long-held values of respect and tolerance, as well as with our clearly communicated guidelines for this competition.” While it didn’t specify which designs it removed, the company said that “a small number of artistic submissions have been removed.”

Representatives from Vans and its parent company, VF Corp., didn’t respond to requests for comment…

Sneaker chain Dahood, which operates several Vans franchises in Hong Kong, wrote in a Facebook post… that it was suspending operations at three locations in the city “until further notice” because of “the controversy caused by the Custom Culture design competition held by Vans worldwide.”…

[Also referred to Starbucks Corp. and Levi Strauss & Co.]

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Related companies: Levi Strauss Starbucks VF Corp