IN DISPUTE: Fendi is locked in a face off with the Seoul government over its use of fur in an upcoming fashion show in the South Korean capital. The event may get the axe.
This story first appeared in the May 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After two days of talks that ended Monday, May 16, Fendi and the Seoul government are no closer to resolving their disagreements. Seoul, under pressure from Korean civic groups, wants Fendi to drop any display of fur in the show slated for June 2. Fendi insists it has the right to select fur garments.
“Fur is part of the DNA of Fendi,” said a spokeswoman for Fendi in Korea. “We are really firm.”
Michael Burke, chief executive of Fendi, issued the following statement: “I met with Seoul city government officials last March and at this meeting there was agreed mutual excitement and cooperation for the execution of this premier event. I’m surprised to learn of Seoul City’s decision to possibly cancel the event if Fendi does not remove all fur pieces just 2 weeks before the event.”
Fendi was planning to stage the show on two floating platforms on the Han River that bisects Seoul. The house was planning to invite more than 1,200 guests including celebrities and media representatives. It was also planning to livestream the show.
Joseph Sung, an official in the global marketing division of the Seoul government, said the city wants to use the event to “promote Seoul to the world.” But he said the city has a problem with fur being in the show. “The [animal lovers] are against it.”
Silvia Venturini Fendi is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on June 1 to select about 60 pieces for the show, which would also feature some items created especially for the occasion Fendi has 13 boutiques in South Korea, up from nine two years ago. It doesn’t disclose its financial performance for South Korea.