LUXURY fashion brand Gucci and its parent company have apologized for committing a faux pas last month when they issued letters to Hong Kong shops warning them to stop selling paper offerings bearing a likeness to the brand’s products.
The sudden apology was prompted by the subsequent backlash from the public after news of the warning letters spread, which saw them being criticized for being overzealous in protecting their brand.
The Italian brand and its Paris-based owner, Kering, said in a statement on Friday that they regretted any misunderstanding that came as a result of the letters, which were received by six shops, adding that they would like to “reiterate their utmost respect with regards to the funeral context”.
They also said that as the shops did not have the intention to infringe copyright and trademark rights, they would not pursue any legal action or seek compensation.
Burning paper offerings for the deceased is a common practice in Chinese culture, and is meant to appease the dead and show filial piety. The offerings are normally burned during the Hungry Ghost Festival, and Qingming, or tomb-sweeping day.
The offerings often come in the form of material items such as clothes, gold, cars, and other fine goods, and it is believed that when a paper version is burned, it will appear in the afterlife for the deceased to “use”.
In Hong Kong, there are specialty shops that offer a large array of these paper offerings, including “hell money”, mansions, iPhones, cars, cigarettes and designer handbags.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, the owner of one of the shops selling the offerings said: “Everyone sells this stuff. If you can’t sell one type of brand, then you can’t sell any of them.”
Paper Gucci bags are estimated to cost around $1.29 (HK$10) to $2.58 (HK$20), or about $6.44 (HK$50) with shoes.
Additional reporting by Associated Press