Hong Kong protesters boycott Vans after pulling out controversial design

Hong Kong protest-designed Vans sneakers submitted for the Vans Custom Culture competition

Vans drew flak from for reportedly removing from its website on October 5 an anti-government shoe design entry that pictured Hong Kong protests.

The design submitted by a Canadian user Naomiso depicted Hong Kong’s flower symbol with Hong Kong protesters wearing gas masks, hard hat, and goggles. It also included yellow umbrellas, which symbolizes Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in 2014.  

The issue spread all over social media and upon noticing it, users have called for a boycott of the US shoe brand by sharing clips of them throwing and burning their sneakers. 

On Saturday, the same day the controversy sparked, Vans release its statement through its Facebook page. 

“As a brand that is open to everyone, 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,” it stated, without direct reference to the shoe designed. 

Vans removed other designs

Aside from that, Vans also said it removed few artistic entries based on the global competition’s guidelines. The skateboarding shoe brand decided to take such action to sustain the grounds of Custom Culture.

Towards the end of its statement, it expressed appreciation to all the artists who participated in the competition. 

“[W]e look forward to many more contributions from our fans and consumers around the globe,” Vans added.

The Vans Custom Culture competition is an annual event which calls all artists from different parts of the world to pass their designs of the sneaker. The champion, who would be decided through online voting, will receive $25,000 as a cash prize, plus Vans sneakers of his/her own design. 

On the other hand, the extradition law proposal allowed demonstration of Hong Kong citizens, which became the inspiration of artist Naomiso for his shoe design. 

Hong Kong protests began earlier this year with the goal to oppose the inception of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill the Hong Kong government proposed and to defend the country’s democracy. 


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