China Furious Over JNBY’s Horrific Kidswear Designs

What Happened: Recently, photos of the Chinese fashion group JNBY’s children’s clothing spread online and sparked controversy over the weekend. The retailer stands accused of creating disturbing designs for its kid’s clothing line. Examples include the phrases “Welcome to Hell,” “Let me touch you,” and other messages related to violence, heresy, racialism, and sexual innuendo.

The phrases quickly attracted attention on the internet, and the hashtag #JNBYrespondedtoinappropriateprintsonchildclothingline hit nearly 300 million views. Authorities in Hangzhou, where the company is based, have ordered JNBY to pull its controversial children’s clothing off shelves and formed a team to investigate, according to a statement it released Sunday.

JNBY incited controversy after consumers spotted inappropriate designs on its children’s clothing. Photo: Weibo

The Jing Take: Before this scandal, JNBY was seen as the pride of domestic brands. However, this incident has destroyed the company’s reputation among Chinese consumers.

Although the brand has issued apologies for its inappropriate designs, they were rejected by infuriated netizens. They accused the statement of being “too perfunctory,” as many believed the brand should at least explain why these designs would appear on children’s clothing. At this point, apology statements are not enough and would never be enough to placate netizens’ ire. Recently, numerous brands and celebrities have been embroiled in scandals, and all opted to issue excuses. But when the matter is severe, few have been able to escape “cancellation.”

Recommended ReadingThe Secret to Surviving a PR Nightmare in ChinaBy Marc Einsele

A sincere explanation and an actual commitment to improvement were requested to gain back consumer trust, and they are insisted upon whether the label is international or local.

Now, JNBY seems unable to escape a boycott. A Weibo user commented below the post, “As a mother of a five-year-old, I feel scared. I can’t imagine the company’s intention in designing these clothes for kids. I’m worried it will mislead my daughter, so I will stay away from the brand.” As a result, the fashion group’s shares tumbled by 13.2 percent on Friday.

This incident might signal a warning to all childrenswear makers: Stricter controls and regulations should likely be applied to the sector. International houses must not underestimate the seriousness of this event and how much China values its children. An increasing number of luxury brands are expanding into the lucrative childrenswear market, but it isn’t necessarily a cash cow. Chinese parents are willing to pay a premium price for children’s items because their kids are important. But, similarly, those parents can also quickly cancel brands that fail to provide their children with healthy and safe products.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.