Photo: Instagram/koki_kimura.ph
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Valentino sparks outrage with apology for disrespecting Japanese culture in photo shoot

41 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

There are a lot of rules surrounding polite and respectful behavior in Japan, particularly when it comes to traditional culture like kimono and everyday customs like removing your shoes when indoors.

Showing respect for these traditions is such an important part of Japanese culture that any departure from convention is likely to spark ire and disdain, so when luxury Italian fashion house Valentino released images showing a Japanese model walking on a kimono obi sash while wearing shoes, the Internet erupted in outrage.

The photo shoot, for the brand’s spring/summer 2021 Valentino Collezione Milano for Women collection in Japan, featured Japanese model Koki, the well-known daughter of Takuya Kimura, a former SMAP boy band member and one of the nation’s most famous stars.

▼ Takuya Kimura, or “Kimutaku” as he’s widely known, pictured on the left, with daughter Mitsuki (professionally known as “Koki”) on the right.

Screen Shot 2021-04-02 at 11.12.57.png

Since making her modelling debut in 2018, Koki has worked with famous fashion houses around the world, including Valentino back in 2019.

Screen Shot 2021-04-02 at 11.13.53.png

Tt was this year’s Valentino shoot that really caught everyone’s attention, though, as photos for the collection showed Koki sitting on a narrow strip of cloth resembling an obi sash, which is usually worn around the waist with kimono (see photo at top).

▼ She was also photographed walking on the fabric while wearing high heels.

Screen Shot 2021-04-02 at 11.15.29.png

The images from the photo shoot shocked people around Japan, who couldn’t believe the disrespectful behavior they were seeing.

“This makes me feel as if Japanese culture is being trampled on.”

“If an obi artisan were to see this, they’d keel over.”

“Japanese people know to treat obi carefully, so the idea of sitting or trampling on it is inconceivable.”

“It’s like walking on a Valentino dress with shoes on. How would they feel about that?”

“This is terrible…the obi is neither a ‘runway yukata’ nor a tarpaulin. It’s part of a kimono. The person in charge should come out and explain themselves.”

Adding insult to injury was the fact that the promotional video for the collection showed the model wearing shoes while inside what appears to be a Japanese home, another cultural taboo that viewers were quick to criticize.

Following the negative reaction online, Valentino pulled the photos and video from their official website and social media accounts, and issued an apology in both Japanese and English.

The apology above reads:

“It has recently been brought to our attention that the Valentino Collezione Milano visuals shot in Japan featuring a Japanese model, includes cuts that unintentionally feature the model sitting or stepping on a Japanese fabric which recalls a traditional obi and involves her wearing shoes on the doorstep or inside a Japanese traditional home.

The fabric unwittingly resembles the Japanese traditional obi and Maison Valentino deeply apologises for any offense caused.

Valentino holds a strong commitment to nurturing a culture of inclusion on a global scale that respects the individuality of every single member of the Community, artistic work, designs and artistic craftsmanship.

The brand has developed a broad campaign empowering the deep connection with different cultures embracing all communities globally and respecting all forms of creative expression, all identities and values.

Maison Valentino is based on a future-focused culture that thrives on creativity and fresh perspectives, while fostering protection, inspiration and exploration.

The brand confirms that the content has been entirely removed.

Maison Valentino is committed to further cultivating a culture of inclusion on a global scale and would like to turn this event into a powerful learning moment for the brand and its Community.”

The apology seems to have missed the mark in Japan, however, with a lot of people taking issue with the fact that the company appears to be trying to dodge criticism by claiming any similarity between an obi and the cloth used in the images was unintentional. 

“The problem isn’t whether the fabric is an obi or not, it’s the fact that someone is trampling on something that looks like an obi–like a foreign country trampling on Japanese culture.” 

“What kind of cloth is it if it isn’t an obi? It’s an obi. Their bad-loser behaviour makes me feel sick.”

“This isn’t an apology at all. It’s like they’re making us out to be fools. Do they really think it’s okay to say it’s not a kimono obi?”

“This ‘apology’ is just adding fuel to the fire.”

“This isn’t good enough–this is not an apology. I loved this brand but I’m so shocked I’ll never buy from them again.”

“If you think of kimono as a type of national costume, you can see why this is out of line. If a Japanese clothing maker made a commercial showing someone trampling on national costumes from other countries, it’d be serious.”

“I’m surprised to see the apology exists online only as an image.”

The majority of Japanese comments online say the apology lacks sincerity, and the fact that it’s only been issued as an image on the brand’s Japanese and English-language Twitter accounts has left a bad taste in people’s mouths as well.

One thing a lot of people do agree on, however, is that 18-year-old model Koki shouldn’t receive any hate for the images–which is what happened to American-Japanese model Kiko when she controversially posed with her legs spread apart on a table in a Japanese room–as she was merely following instructions from the creative team.

With Valentino now involved in a second backlash from the campaign, it’s yet to be revealed whether the company will attempt to redeem themselves with a reworded apology. It’s something the company should seriously consider, though, because with the Asian community feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment, admitting to your mistakes and accepting full responsibility for them is the real “powerful learning moment” the world needs to see right now.

Source: Twitter/@Valentino_Japan via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Daughter of Japanese idol and former SMAP star Takuya Kimura makes her modelling debut in Japan

-- Kimono genius turns obi sash into the head of Evangelion Unit-01【Photos】

-- Japanese Twitter seems to have no problems with Karlie Kloss’ “geisha” photo shoot

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
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Vulgar media publicity stunt.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

I find it hard to believe that many in Japan care at all

16 ( +25 / -9 )

Outrage! Nobody cares except Internet trolls.

16 ( +25 / -9 )

A pair of look at me attention seekers, lacking the inspired imaginative nuance to create "belle".

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The thing that people should really be outraged over is that she was being used to sell clothes to adults when she was 15. Gross!

1 ( +8 / -7 )

*‘Faux Outrage’ ****has more ‘re-sale’ and advertising value than ‘real outrage’ - ***

3 ( +6 / -3 )

One thing a lot of people do agree on, however, is that 18-year-old model Koki shouldn’t receive any hate for the images

I didn't realize she was a slave, or was forced at gunpoint to do something she didn't want to. She is 18, an adult, so the fact she didn't say 'no' was her choice.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

@Zoroto You are correct! If the art directors has asked her to show her breast would she have blindly obeyed or would she have used her agency to say "no?"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

it’s the fact that someone is trampling on something that looks like an obi–like a foreign country trampling on Japanese culture.” 

I just don’t see it this way. What if someone walked on cherry blossom petals tossed onto the virgin road at a wedding? Would that be trampling the National flower of Japan?

Long time ago before there were dispensers, a department store lady held open a plastic bag for my umbrella into which I inserted my umbrella. Then Japanese girlfriend was incensed that I did that with another woman right in front of her. She couldn’t get the image of me cheating on her out of her mind. I choose not to see things in such ways.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

*Demonstrate your ‘true outrage’ by clearing your closets of all ‘Occidental brands’* *today! - **ALL the clothes AND, ‘yes’, those handbags! Then, *they must be all be ‘cancelled’, er... ‘destroyed’.

Sorry, NO ‘re-sale’ shops, pawn shops, EBay or Mecari’. In traditional manner, “*Cut them into small pieces and reuse them as ‘cushion fillers**” - *because burning is not *part of the National “green initiative**”.*
2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm outraged I tell you!

I take mu cue from a half dozed anonymous Twitter handles that may or may not exist!

Outraged!!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Internet erupted in outrage........Oh My!......Really?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It is a successful advert, because it seems to have received a lot of attention.

Personally, I think that it is quite imaginative.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

”Leave Kiko & Koki Alone!” - Stop trying to cancel the ‘models’. These ‘indentured servants’ of the fashion industry know that “If they don’t play, they don’t get paid”.

The true ‘slaves’ of the fashion industry are the Uighurs in Xinjiang and other textile producing countries. - That’s where your outrage should be!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Its an effective advert.

Their bad-loser behaviour makes me feel sick.

LOL. If Kimono and Obi are so sacred, why I have seen them bagged up with trash and left out for disposal? Most Hard-OFF/Second Street shops will not even buy them - if they do, you are lucky to get 300 yen. People also cut them up and make handbags, placemats etc, which is a great idea for something that will otherwise be binned.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

This isn't China. No-one cares, Valentino.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

52.1K likes tells me NO PROBLEM, and it's alright.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

They outraged Japan by giving the traditional Japanese style responsibility evading apology.

"We're sorry that you misunderstood and thought it was an obi."

7 ( +7 / -0 )

20 years ago, some lonely people just muttered to themselves in their own homes about every perceived slight in the world. Then came Twitter. Now their formerly silent mutterings have a global audience, and a news media ready to call the mutterings representative of their entire country - or even of global outrage. The companies involved then panic and embark on an expensive course of corrections, costing them money and perhaps jobs. Soon all creativity is inhibited - in fear of offending some recluse in a bathrobe living in a 1k danchi.

The effects of technology.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What can you expect from the ignorance from the pathetic decadent fashion world ??!!!...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This is good stuff!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I thought April 1st was a few days ago

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hold on, now @Fighto! 8:24am. GLAAD d you see the hypocrisy here. Yet, YOU routinely express comments, for the most part, supporting the Nationalists’ ‘point of view’ with their routinely, immobile and dogmatic demands of rules for ‘respect of established culture & tradition’. Your recent comments in point, Apr. 3  4:45p:

*- “Their country, their customs, their rules.” -*

Regarding fashion, you can’t ‘flip-flop’ now, can you?

*- “LOL. If Kimono and Obi are so sacred, ...” -*

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Disregard the above: (darn ‘Auto-correct: “Glad’ was intended)

Hold on, now @Fighto! 8:24am. Happy to you see the hypocrisy here. Yet, YOU routinely express comments, for the most part, supporting the Nationalists’ ‘point of view’ with their routinely, immobile and dogmatic demands of rules for ‘respect of established culture & tradition’. Your recent comments in point, Apr. 3  4:45p:

*- “Their country, their customs, their rules.” -*

Regarding fashion, you can’t ‘flip-flop’ now, can you?

*- “LOL. If Kimono and Obi are so sacred, ...” -*

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It is a successful advert, because it seems to have received a lot of attention. 

Yes. Job done.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Interesting. Does anyone recall the following story:

Tokyo Olympic Official Resigns Over Proposal to Dress Woman as a Pig

https://www.wsj.com/articles/tokyo-olympic-official-offers-resignation-over-proposal-to-dress-woman-as-a-pig-11616029565

Do you know what I find interesting? Is that it was only an idea, but the Japanese guy had to resign. The Valentino ad went into full production and I don't think anyone is going to resign over it. Also note the different reactions from the JT posters to this story and the NHK story.

Japan's NHK apologizes for offensive cartoon on US protests

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Society/Japan-s-NHK-apologizes-for-offensive-cartoon-on-US-protests.

Interesting. A double standard?

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Nobody wears kimonos anymore, rich old ladies are too scared to go shopping in department stores, and hostess bars are restricted so old men don’t buy the gift products either.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Wide open legs is more noteworthy than the silk obi beneath her...

It doesn't bother me at all, it's just the first time I've seen this pose,

by a Japanese, in fashion.

Outrage?

Not really.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Double standards? how about my culture that is used in Japanese ads and it isn't given a thought ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Valentino,s apology is like a textbook example from the world of J- politics and business...very sorry for causing unintentional misunderstanding and confusion to the people"...usually seems to work a great. The troll outrage continues because a fake remorse and 90 degree bow ritual was not performed by Valentino,s head honcho yet.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Do you know what I find interesting? Is that it was only an idea, but the Japanese guy had to resign. The Valentino ad went into full production and I don't think anyone is going to resign over it. Also note the different reactions from the JT posters to this story and the NHK story.

The difference is one involves a woman, while the other involves an obi. If the Japanese guy had called a fellow male "Olympig", there would have been no outcry at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Tyranny of a tiny "miffed" minority strikes again. It could be only three or four "outraged" people who the media claim are "breaking" the internet in the hopes of a cheap story. Their ire is amplified and projected all out of proportion to their numbers, surely.

It's Art. It's an artsy commercial for a House or Fashion, making Art. If you don't like it, don't like it, but try not to also feel the need to destroy if for everyone else. Taking that road leads to dangerous, anti-democratic, tendencies...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So they blame Valentino, but how about Kimu Taku's daughter who actually did the trampling?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The problem isn’t whether the fabric is an obi or not, it’s the fact that someone is trampling on something that looks like an obi–like a foreign country trampling on Japanese culture.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Perpetually offended.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese aren't like Korean Netizens who demand a strong apology and the celebrities to put behind bars or make them suicide, these are obviously some trolls or weebies trying to defend. But the majority of an actual Japanese just want a simple apology and that's all.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Perhaps if this makes you feel outraged, you should consider not buying the clothes and just get on with life?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tons of hypocrisy!

It was ok to criticize Valentino for his mistake, but I also notice tons of hypocrisy from Japanese net users suddenly scandalized and offended. Many Japanese offend their culture, trample on their traditions, by replacing Japanese traditions with western traditions on almost every occasion (and an online revolt never happened).

I bet that 90% or more of Japanese netizens that felt offended by Valentino are also persons who preferred to wear a western one-piece dress (maybe from an Italian fashion designer, maybe Valentino) in place of Japanese kimono during a wedding party as a guest, or persons who whore a western white wedding dress in place of traditional Japanese wedding kimono during their own wedding ceremony.

If the Japanese really love their traditions and kimono, they should also celebrate wedding ceremonies in Japanese temples, officiated by a Japanese Shinto priest, wearing traditional wedding kimono, instead to celebrate in fake catholic chapels, officiated by a fake catholic priest, and wearing a western white wedding dress.

I think it is very disrespectful for their country and culture to transform the most important day of a couple into a cosplay event, and to cancel every sign of Japanese traditions from the event. Yes, because western-style wedding ceremonies in Japan are just cosplay since everything is fake and arranged only to take the photo.

The truth is that most Japanese, on many occasions, prefer to trample on their traditions and roots just for vanity and only to follow trends. The abovementioned wedding ceremony is only an example. Just see also the countless girls that modify their eyelids from "almond" (Japanese) shape to round western shape.

I do not want to offend anyone, I think it was ok to criticize Valentino for his mistake.

However, I repeat, I also notice tons of hypocrisy from the Japanese netizens.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This "outrage" reminds me of these fools who complain about the cast of TV reality shows. Seriously, they have nothing better to do than to complain about a commercial? Birds of a feather.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

‘Call out’ Foreign brands Sunday; “give a “Pass” to Japanese brands Thursday.

Conclusion to this story above: Continued Hypocrisy tucked away in “Features” Apr 8 - “Neo Kimono releases innovative traditional heel covers made from artisanal fabric

*- “Neo Kimono w/Tokyo’s Vantan Design Institute traditional take: Obi de Boots iki heel covers, made using gorgeous patterns from silk fabric, a traditional textile from Kyoto that’s been produced for over 1,000 years.” -*

https://japantoday.com/category/features/new-products/neo-kimono-releases-innovative-traditional-heel-covers-made-from-artisanal-fabric

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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