JNBY Childrenswear Line Caught in Controversy Again

    Chinese fashion group JNBY is in hot water for producing disturbing kidswear designs for a second time. Will it ever learn its lesson?
    Chinese fashion group JNBY is in hot water for producing disturbing kidswear designs for a second time. Will it ever learn its lesson? Photo: Weibo
      Published   in Profile

    What happened

    Eight months since its disturbing illustration scandal erupted online, Chinese fashion group JNBY’s childrenswear line is back in hot water. For a second time, it has been called out by a worried netizen who spotted inappropriate designs on a short-sleeved dress sold online by the company. The offending print appears to show a child that has fallen over and two children sitting behind them, with written text in English reading: “I’m afraid, I want them to stop, I don’t want to land, no!!” The Hangzhou Municipal Market Supervision Bureau has ordered the retailer to withdraw 509 pieces of the clothing in question and stated it will conduct further investigation into the business.

    Previously, on May 9, Hangzhou's market watchdog fined the group 120,000 (or 800,000 yuan) for publishing advertisements that damaged the sovereignty of the country. On a map displayed on the brand's official website, the borders of China appeared to be incomplete. Taiwan, Hainan, and the South China Sea Islands could not be seen and Southern Tibet and Aksai Chin boundaries were inaccurate, violating China’s advertising law’s article 9.4. Thus far, the fashion group has yet to respond to the scandals.

    The Jing Take

    When the first problematic illustration heated the web back in September 2021, surprisingly, it had little impact on the brand’s sales: the childrenswear line only fell by 0.7 percent. Yet with the same incident happening twice, shoppers have simply lost their patience with the domestic retailer. Two related hashtags (with a combined 160 million views) topped the Weibo Hot Search list, and netizens are now calling for a brand boycott.

    The repeated scandal leads to the question, who is behind these prints? In 2018, Li Lin, who founded the company in 1994, revealed the kidswear line had only four people on the design team. Additionally, in recent years, the fashion group’s labels, including CROQUIS, JNBY, and Less, have frequently been called out for plagiarizing the works of emerging talents. Clearly, there is a lack of investment in design and a lax review process, which the company should be fully responsible of.

    When an issue occurs, especially a negative one, citizens expect brands to express their position and attitude on their social channels. In a digital era, brands have direct channels to communicate with consumers and create deeper connections with them. However, through these platforms, shoppers are not passively receiving brands’ marketing and sales campaigns but look for more genuine dialogues. JNBY’s failure to create one means a freefall into PR crisis management. After 27 years, which is old by contemporary China standards, you’d think it would have learned its lesson. Not so.

    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.

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.