CASABLANCA: Several high-profile Russian influencers have accused Chanel of discriminating against them based on their nationality by refusing to sell them products, with some cutting up the company’s merchandise in protest.
However, while wealthy influencers thought nothing of chopping up a $7,000 (minimum) luxury bag, much of the world was confused and angered by the misdirected outrage toward the fashion brand.
“Meet @VictoriaBonya, a Russian influencer living in Monaco. Victoria is irate. Not because of rape, torture & killings inflicted on Ukrainians by Russian soldiers, but because Chanel is closing shop in Russia. She’s cutting up her Chanel bag in protest!” tweeted one social media user.
Meet @VictoriaBonya, a Russian influencer living in Monaco. Victoria is irate. Not because of rape, torture & killings inflicted on Ukrainians by Russian soldiers, but because Chanel is closing shop in Russia. She’s cutting up her Chanel bag in protest! pic.twitter.com/2Emcmq7r9A
— Vahid Yücesoy (@vahid_yucesoy) April 9, 2022
Anna Kalashnikova, a Russian influencer with 2.4 million followers, reportedly claimed that a Chanel store in Dubai had refused to serve her.
“Since I often travel to Dubai as a host for Fashion Week, Chanel managers recognized and approached me saying, we know you are a celebrity in Russia. We know you’ll be going there, so we can’t sell you our branded items,” she said.
“Western shops ask for identification data, and when you (give them) a Russian number, sellers tell you: Now, we can only sell items to Russians if they promise that they won’t take them to Russia and that they won’t wear them there,” said Kalashnikova.
“Russophobia in action. I experienced it myself,” she added.
Russian DJ Katya Guseva said that she now realizes she can live without owning a luxury handbag. “Without Chanel we will continue to live perfectly,” she said in a WhatsApp message.
It appears that Russian influencers finally understand how the rest of the world survives without owning a Chanel product. Nevertheless their approach to protest remains far removed from ordinary people’s reality.
Meanwhile, Chanel stores in Russia were vandalized, with many covered in Hitler stickers.
Following Chanel's decision to leave Russia, its store in Moscow has been covered in Hitler stickers.
— Jonny Tickle (@jonnytickle) April 8, 2022
Russian influencer Liza Litvin claimed in an online story that the Chanel store in Dubai had asked her to sign a document stating that she did not live in Russia and would not wear her bag on Russian soil.
“I went to a Chanel store in the Mall of the Emirates. They did not sell me their bag because I come from Russia,” she wrote.
Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Many bloggers reported that official Chanel stores abroad refused to sell their products to Russian citizens.”
To protest at what they consider to be discrimination, Russian models, including Victoria Bonya, have filmed themselves cutting their Chanel bags with scissors. Her actions were quickly followed by other Russian women.
Russian TV presenter Marina Ermoshkina also posted an online video of herself cutting her Chanel bag in half with a pair of garden scissors.
She said that while withdrawing from Russia was the company’s choice, its policy against customers bringing products into the country is discriminatory and humiliating.
Ermoshkina said that nothing is worth her love for her “motherland,” not even a bag that she has always dreamed of owning.
Chanel did not respond to requests for comments from Arab News. However, the luxury brand said in a public statement: “Chanel is an international company. For that, it complies with all laws applicable to its operations and employees worldwide, including trade sanction laws.
“With regard to the various sanctions issued by the EU, the UK, the US and Switzerland regarding Russia and Belarus, Chanel is therefore prohibited from trading with certain designated natural and legal people.
“Chanel is not authorized to carry out transactions with certain natural and legal people designated/listed by these sanctions regimes.
“Furthermore, the most recent EU and Swiss sanctions laws include a ban on the sale, supply, transfer or export, of luxury goods directly or indirectly, to any natural or legal person, entity or body in Russia, or for their use in Russia.”
Chanel said that it has been forced to implement EU sanctions which prohibit the export of luxury goods worth more than €300 ($326.15) to Russia.
“We are aware that this process of interpreting the law has disappointed some of our clients. We are currently working on improving this approach and we apologize for any misunderstanding this may have caused. Welcoming all our clients, wherever they come from, is a priority for Chanel.”
Several other Western brands have terminated their activities in Russia. In early March, luxury retailers LVMH, Hermes and Kering announced they were temporarily shutting down their stores in the country.