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Chinese Fashion Brand Peacebird Accused of Plagiarism (Again!) – What's on Weibo

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The Chinese fashion brand Peacebird turns out to be a copycat.
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The Chinese fashion brand Peacebird (太平鸟) is trending on Chinese social media this week for its alleged involvement in various cases of plagiarism. The brand is accused of producing exact copies of garments designed by other labels. Hashtag “Peacebird Repeatedly Accused of Plagiarism” (#太平鸟多次被控抄袭#) drew in over 230 million views on Weibo.
In late October of this year, fashion blogger and small fashion brand @SOS_SEAMSTRESS called out Peacebird on Weibo for plagiarizing one of their designs.
Besides changing the material used for the garment, the Peacebird outfit is an exact copy of the design by SOS Seamstress – even the buttons and pockets and other details are exactly the same. The price, however, is five times higher.
Left: the Peacebird garment. Right: the original design by SOS Seamstress.
Left, Peacebird. Right, SOS Seamstress design.
SOS Seamstress condemned Peacebird for claiming to have their own original fashion designs, produced by their in-house design team, while actually stealing from others and completely disregarding the rights of domestic local designers.
It is the fifth time this year that the fashion house is accused of plagiarism. Beijing Business News reported that other brands, including Mostwantedlab and Annomundi, previously also accused Peacebird of stealing their designs. In February of this year, the artist @LOONY_FACE also publicly exposed Peacebird for using his designs without his permission.
Left Annomundi, right Peacebird.
Left Annomundi, right Peacebird.
Chinese netizens have further researched other clothing brands that Peacebird allegedly plagiarized, including UNALLOYED, Moussy, Off-White, FREI, Maje, and other domestic and international brands.
Design by Maje (left), and the dress by Peacebird (right).
Various Chinese media outlets, including Beijing Business News, call it noteworthy that Peacebird’s response to these plagiarism accusations is not an apology but a simple statement that “original brands can go through legal channels.” Meanwhile, the company has allegedly also taken down the designs that have been pointed out as copies.

Peacebrand is a fashion retail brand established in Ningbo in 1996. The company also holds various smaller brands such as LEDIN (乐町) and Material Girl. The fashion company claims to have approximately 12,000 employees in its stores, headquarters and factories. In 2018, it made its first debut at New York Fashion Week.
Among all the people commenting on this issue, there are many who think that although ‘borrowing’ popular designs has always been a part of the fashion industry, doing an exact copy is uncommon and unacceptable – especially for such a large company as Peacebird. “Shameless!”, multiple commenters say.
“I once bought an embroidered garment at Peacebird’s, and then later saw the same design from a brand I didn’t know. I thought it was copied from Peacebird, but now I think it might’ve been the other way around,” one person writes.
“I’m shocked that the national brand Peacebird would plagiarize while waving the flag of originality,” another commenter says.
“Plagiarizing one time, ok, but plagiarizing so many times and then even doing one on one copies, how can they run a business?!”
There are also those who hope that the current focus on Peacebird’s alleged plagiarism will lead to more attention for smaller, original brands in China.
To read more about the recent surge in popularity of domestic brands in China, see: “Chinese Fashion First: Consumer Nationalism and ‘China Chic’.”
By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.
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While domestic brand Erke is all the hype, Nike is growing increasingly unpopular.
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Domestic sportswear company Erke has recently become a top-selling brand in China. The American sports brand Nike, on the other hand, has seemingly lost its reputation in the Chinese market. This week’s trending Weibo topics relating to the companies are telling of the ongoing battle between domestic and international sportswear brands in China.
 
By Wendy Huang & Manya Koetse
 
American sportswear brand Nike and Chinese domestic sportswear brand Erke (鸿星尔克) both popped up in the Weibo trending lists this week, but for two totally different reasons.

While Nike got caught up in controversy, Erke was praised. The stark contrast between how the two brands are represented on social media today is telling of their recent position in the Chinese market.
 
Nike Store Employee vs Chinese Migrant Worker
 
The trending incident involving Nike this week was about a bad shopping experience at the Nike store in Kunming, Yunnan province. On August 13, the 44-year old migrant worker Mao Zhigao (毛治高) took his three kids out shopping in the Nike store to reward them for their good school results.
What was supposed to be a fun family occasion turned into an awful afternoon when a female employee at the store reportedly snatched Nike clothes out of the hands of the youngest son and put them back on the hangers again.
When the boy tearfully told his parents about what happened, the incident soon escalated. The boy’s father, Mr. Mao, believed that the Nike employees were treating the family badly based on their appearance. As a migrant worker working on a construction site, Mao had just returned from work and was in his work clothes.
When the young boy’s mother confronted the employee about what had happened, the altercation apparently turned physical when the Nike employee started scratching and hair-pulling. Local police officers eventually stepped in to mediate.

Although the Mao family demanded an apology from the Nike staff and also filed a complaint to Nike, they did not receive any reply. After six days, local media got involved and the story went trending.
Nike then responded to the issue with an apology and statement that the female employee was dismissed.
By Monday, August 23rd, some hashtags related to the incident received millions of views on Weibo:
On social media, the Nike incident was mostly viewed through the angle of unfair treatment and the international brand discriminating against a Chinese migrant worker.
 
Erke as ‘Patriotic Brand’
 
While Nike is being criticized, Erke, the Chinese sportswear brand by Hongxing Erke Group (鸿星尔克), is praised because it announced to donate one million yuan ($153,800) to Henan Museum to support the museum’s rebuilding project after the devastating flood.
A picture posted by Henan Museum on its Weibo account (@河南博物院)  shows that Erke put the donation in the name of “national netizens.”

The picture soon went viral on Weibo, with the hashtag “ERKE Donates One Million Yuan to Henan Museum” (#鸿星尔克向河南博物院捐赠一百万元#) receiving 450 million views, and “ERKE Together With National Netizens” (#鸿星尔克 携全国网友#) receiving 140 million views.
This is the second time that Erke made a donation to help Henan in light of the floods. Its first donation in late July of this year is actually what helped the brand back into the limelight.
The domestic sportswear brand then donated 50 million yuan ($7.7 million) to the Henan flood. This attracted a lot of attention on Chinese social media since Erke was known as a relatively low-profile brand that seemingly has not been doing too well over the past years.
After people found out that the company donated such a high amount of money to help the people in Henan despite its own losses, its online sales went through the roof – everyone wanted to support this generous ‘patriotic brand.’ While netizens rushed to the online shops selling Erke, the brand’s physical shops also ran out of products with so many people coming to buy their sportswear. One female sales assistant was moved to tears when the store suddenly filled up with so many customers.
Image via Ellemen.
Lei Jun, the founder of the electronics company Xiaomi, also joined the Erke hype. He published a picture of him wearing Erke shoes on Weibo, the hashtag dedicated to this topic then received about 200 million views (#雷军晒鸿星尔克鞋#).
 
Consumer Nationalism and Sportswear Brands
 
It is not just Nike that has seemingly become less popular in China. Earlier this month, one hashtag about another global sports brand, Adidas, also went viral on Weibo. The trending hashtag was about the brand’s revenue growth of Q2 in China dropping by 16% (#阿迪达斯在华收入下跌16%#), receiving more than 110 million views.

During its Q2 2021 conference call, in response to a question about the current consumer demands regarding global brands vs domestic brands in China, CEO of Adidas Group Kasper Rorsted said: “We continue to see a strong demand for products in China, [but] we believe right now that demand has been scooted towards Chinese local brands more than global brands.”
On August 24, news about the online sales of the Chinese Anta Sportswear brand topping those of Nike and Adidas received over 200 million views on Weibo alone (#安踏线上首超耐克阿迪#).


It seems that international sports brands have to look for new ways of winning over consumers in the Chinese market. This shift partly relates to two issues.
The first major issue that has impacted the popularity of brands such as Nike and Adidas has to do with the fact that they are members of the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), which came under fire in China earlier this year after it had announced it would cease all field-level activities in the Xinjiang region with immediate effect due to concerns over the alleged use of forced labor.
The BCI ‘Xinjiang Cotton Ban’ led to an online ‘Xinjiang Cotton Support’ campaign in China. The BCI member brands boycotting Xinjiang cotton were soon labeled as being ‘anti-China.’ Chinese staff members at Nike and Adidas stores were scolded during live streams, and photos of people burning their Nike shoes soon started circulating on social media.


Another trend that has impacted the influence of foreign sportswear brands in China relates to the rise in popularity of local, Chinese sportswear brands. Domestic brands such as Anta Sports and Lining have been active in Chinese since the 1990s and are now profiting from changing consumer sentiments in a new era that is all about “proudly made in China.”
Besides incorporating more Chinese elements into their product design, Chinese celebrities also play a crucial role in the marketing of these domestic brands. Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan (肖战) was praised on social media for becoming the new brand ambassador of the Chinese sportswear brand Lining. When celebrity Wang Yibo became the spokesperson for the domestic brand Anta Sports, one Weibo hashtag page on the topic received over one billion views (#王一博代言安踏#) in late April of 2021. The promotional poster featuring Wang Yibo shows him wearing a t-shirt with “China” on it, including the national flag – profiling Anta as a ‘nation-loving brand.

On social media, it already became clear earlier this year that a distinction was being made between foreign, ‘anti-Chinese’ brands, and domestic, ‘patriotic’ brands (read more here).
Erke indirectly profited from these existing consumer sentiments when, as a relatively smaller domestic brand, it was hyped as the no 1 patriotic sportswear brand for donating so much money to help out during the Henan floods.
Although Nike and Adidas each also contributed 20 million yuan ($3 million) toward Henan floods relief efforts, their donations barely received online attention. In fact, Nike was even condemned online for donating “zero yuan” at a time when it had already announced donating 20 million (more about that here).
The Erke hype even went so far that Chinese livestream sellers of Nike and Adidas notified their viewers that they actually supported the domestic Erke brand.
Adidas livestream sellers supporting Erke.
These nationalistic consumer sentiments also surfaced during the Olympics, when Chinese sport shooter Yang Qian was criticized for her collection of Nike shoes. One Beijing Television journalist wrote on social media: “Chinese athletes, why would you want to collect Nike shoes, shouldn’t you take the lead in boycotting Nike? Aren’t our domestic brands such as Erke, Li Ning, and Anta good enough [for you]?”
During the Tokyo Olympics, Team China’s podium uniform was designed by Chinese sportswear brand Anta, which will also be the Official Sportswear Uniform Supplier for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Anta x Olympics.
In light of everything that happened during the past few months, it is likely that for the time to come, domestic brands such as Erke will continue to flourish while foreign brands might see their China sales slump.
Meanwhile, on social media, netizens continue to express their support for domestic brands while denouncing Nike.
Multiple commenters wrote: “Erke is like ‘I’ve gotten wet, so I want to give others an umbrella too.’ Nike is like ‘Put down those clothes, your dad looks dirty, how you can afford to buy?’”
“I’ll support domestically produced products,” many others write: “Brands that are not patriotic should get out of the country.”
 
By Wendy Huang & Manya Koetse

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Special KFC in Inner-Mongolia: “Is home delivery done by camelback?”
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A KFC restaurant that has opened up in Ordos Prefecture, Inner-Mongolia, is attracting online attention in China for its yurt-style building.
The KFC restaurant is located in Xiangshawan, also known as Whistling Dune Bay, a tourist area – China’s first desert-themed tourism resort – in the Kubuqi Desert.
Some web users praise the fast-food giant for “following local customs” (“入乡随俗”). Others jokingly wonder if their home delivery services are also done by camelback.



Although KFC is not China’s first fast-food restaurant, it is one of the most popular ones. Nowhere else outside of the US has KFC expanded so quickly as in China. Since the first KFC opened in Beijing in 1987, the chain had an average of 50% growth per year.
With thousands of locations across the country, KFC often adapts its restaurants’ style to the local environment. On Weibo, web users share various examples of local KFCs.
A KFC sign at a Fuzhou branch, by Weibo user @渭城朝雨玉清宸.
A KFC in Shanxi province, shared by Weibo user @sheep加水饺.
KFC in Suzhou, by Weibo user @是宜不是宣呀.
KFC in Pingyao, by Weibo user @车谦渊
KFC in Orange Isle, Hunan, by Weibo user @DzDanger_
One Weibo user (@阳山花非花) points out that KFC is not the only chain to adapt to the local environment in Ordos. Chinese fast-food chain Dicos (德克士) apparently also has a special restaurant in the area.


Besides adapting its buildings, KFC is also known to be quite localized in its product offerings. KFC China offers products such as Chinese-style porridge, Beijing chicken roll, and youtiao (deep-fried strip of dough commonly eaten for breakfast).

In 2019, KFC also made headlines in China for adding, among other things, hot and spicy skewers (麻辣串串) to its menu.
For now, the KFC yurt-style location is bound to gain more visitors who are coming to check it out. Already, various Weibo users are sharing their own pics of their KFC visit.


 
You might also like to read:
 
By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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