The enterprise "Philipp Plein" is an ambitious fashion and design label residing in Switzerland. The founder's name is Philipp Patrick Plein, born in Munich - and his website
reveals: the success story of the Salem pupil commenced in 1998, at first with "luxury goods
" exclusively designed for family and friends. Jewelry, furniture and fashion were added later; the "fascinating PHILIPP-PLEIN-COUTURE line
" was introduced to the awaiting public in summer 2007.
"F-U-C-K you China, Manufactured in Europe, produced and design by Philipp Plein"
The ambitious designer uses unusual methods to provide his products with the necessary publicity: for example a 100 pieces limited t-shirt advertising with a stylized Chinese and the slogan "F-U-C-K you China - Manufactured in Europe. Produced and designed by Philipp Plein.
". All this may be tasteless and wear a racist connotion; but it wouldn't have become generally known, had the "Deutsche Welle" not covered it on their website
on the 9th july 2007: however, in Chinese only. It is incomprehensible why the German medium covered this case only in Chinese language; at least it kicked off a wave of indignation: in several forums
, mostly used by Chinese living in Germany, the story was taken up and commented with legitimate anger: calls to boycott, collections of signatures
in front of the store "KULT" in Bremen which tendered those shirts, and an anti-Philipp-Plein-website
The website www.fuck-you-philipp-plein.net
published an (unconfirmed) written answer of the enterprise "Philipp Plein", which was to "correct" the matter, in the meantime. Amongst other things, they state: "The PHILIPP PLEIN Int. AG company would like to explain what lies behind this abbreviation and give the following statement: f.u.c.k.u.china stands for 'the fascinating & urban collection: kiss you China'.
" In the Chinese speaking forum www.dolc.de
, the answer is: "We are extraordinarily fascinated by your explanation. According to your e-mail, the expression criticized by us, 'f.u.c.k.u.china', is abbreviated for the sentence 'the fascinating & urban collection: kiss you China' rather than posing an insult for China and our people. We are awfully sorry to have misinterpreted such a humorous and beautiful idea of yours. Thanks to your explanation, we and also all other Chinese got the chance to improve our English language proficiency here in Germany. [...] At last, we have a suggestion for the promotion of your brand. Since we are intrigued by your F.U.C.K.U.-idea, we are disappointed that the whole collection is limited to China shirts. We believe, a new set of this ingenious collection, e.g. a t-shirt with your name - 'F.U.C.K.U. Philipp Plein', would support your name in the whole wide world.
So, much ado about nothing? The word "f-u-c-k
" really means "the fascinating & urban collection
"? This remains to be seen. The next sentence "manufactured in Europe" suggests another meaning of the message: an ambitious, exclusivity mimicking fashion designer focussing on location arguments against "dirt-cheap imports" and "Chinese textile glut": production is located in good old Europe, and the conservation of "our workplaces" also benefits from the price of 69,90 euros. And here we finally reach the regular's table's niveau: rooting with dumb (and economically wrong!) slogans - curry favoring with a wide, long-time dominating purpose baiting against China - ostensibly against foreign products and finally against an entire country with more than 1.4 billion inhabitants.
Why are the usual location arguments wrong and dishonest? Very easy:
- There are quite a lot of German enterprises producing at dumping costs in the people's republic of China, flooding the Chinese market with German commodities and bringing in huge profits that way - for German, not Chinese, bank accounts. Germany is nowadays the biggest trading partner in Europe for China, the fourth biggest world-wide, the Chinese market is behind the USA the second biggest and most important for Germany (outside Europe); the FDIs from Germany alone sum up to more than 12 billion US-$ until 2005.
- All this makes China an indispensable factor for the German economy for some time now, and as long as one could exclusively profit from that, there wasn't any problem. But in the meantime the relation is toppling a bit; the balance of trade doesn't look just as pleasant anymore: here Germany obtains, with imports at a value of about 40 billion euros from China compared to 21 billion euros of exports to China, a trade deficit of about 18.5 billion euros - a year.
- Especially the German "middle class", hailing China as an economical wonderland several years ago, is getting worried nowadays: the once cheap providers and good customers got the - completely impudent - idea to produce for themselves and export into foreign countries these days. As long as other countries refuse to buy German commodities, there is a huge cry about "dictatorship", "planned economy", "unflexibility" and "autarky"; if other countries want to export to Germany they get denounced with cheapest paroles:
- The "location argument" belongs there, which is in short: If we can not produce cheaper in here, our companies - together with the workplaces - migrate to foreign countries to not go bancrupt. Ergo, production has to be cheaper here - that is: wages down - to face competition. The scapegoat for the ever-necessary wage-cuts is in this case not the German businessman, who completely altruisticly only thinks of the well-being of his employees, but the evil abroad - that way, German and foreign workers are played off against each other; the profiteer of the saving waves won't interfere.
- Let's call a spade a spade: the seesaw of "our" businessmen can only interest us if we ourselves belong to them. Since that is the case in the very fewest of cases, a bit of thinking would apply: what is the Chinese/Indian/African worker's fault, that our company bosses like to "economize", that is earn more, and for that reason cut wages here and migrate to cheap labour countries at the same time? Or, the other way round: do we save our threatened jobs if we look for foreign culprits instead of giving our bosses hell by going on strikes? These days it is usually the other way round: even the trade unions, who should have a genuine interest in preserving the workers from national as well as international division, switch to "location Germany" under the pressure of "inherent necessities" - in bad memory stays the inexpressible "grasshopper-campaign" ("Heuschrecken") unabashedly adapted by IG Metall.
Of course, I do not impute any of this to "Philipp Plein"; as I have no evidence of such thoughts in the cerebrum of the chief designer. But the t-shirts are still publicly accessible; the company "Philipp Plein" and the fashion shop "KULT", which by now know that their cute "kiss you China"-idea might have been fundamentally misunderstood, have not yet shown any consequences to clarify their real intention in a probably better understandable way. Thus, not only many Chinese living in Germany that are confronted with such slogans in German shop windows are insulted and hurt in their dignity; but also every honest man of German nationality should get sick seeing this. Not enough that many foreigners have to live in mortal fear of neo nazi assaults in many parts of this country; not enough that racist slogans already became normal in the "BILD"-"newspaper" and in soccer stadiums; not enough that German top politicians revive the unspeakably wrong division in "reaping" and "creating" capital by animal metaphores ("grasshoper swarms") reminiscent of the nazi time with which the German fascists already went for vote catching: now the "German shopping alternative" for fashion aware people with national pride who feel threatened by China...
We did not ask the company "Philipp Plein" for a statement to this case in advance; we renounce the realization if the "f.u.c.k.u china" might in fact be a "kiss you, China", appeal for international cohabitation or may have any other meaning we were unable to identify. It is sufficient, that Chinese and Germans feel insulted by such a slogan to consequently put the brakes on:- Suspension of production and sale of this t-shirt.
- Public apology by producer and all vendors of this t-shirt.
- Put an ducomentation an apology on the official website, www.philipp-plein.com.
And as long as this does not happen:- Boycott of Philipp Plein, the fashion shop "Kult" and every other outlet!