Italian Fashion Brand Called Disrespectful Of Japanese Culture

Italian Fashion Brand Called Disrespectful Of Japanese Culture
Screenshot: Valentino

If you’ve ever been to Japan (and even if you haven’t), you are probably aware that shoes are a big deal — namely, taking them off. The bottoms of shoes are considered dirty for obvious reasons. Because of this, walking inside while wearing shoes is certainly frowned upon.

The cultural norms do not stop there. Walking on other things while wearing shoes is also seen as disrespectful, which is why a recent fashion ad by Italian brand Valentino is coming under fire in Japan.

The spot is for this year’s spring collection and features Koki, the daughter of Japanese celeb Takuya Kimura, who previously starred in Sega’s Judgment and voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle. Previously a member of the boy band SMAP, he is one of the country’s biggest stars, and his daughter has begun modelling. 

In the ad, Koki is shown walking and standing on an obi (kimono sash) while wearing high heels. If that wasn’t enough, the obi was also draped all over the ground outside. Both of these acts are considered disrespectful. Excite News, Tokyo Sports, and Get News reported there was an inevitable outcry. Below are a selection of comments:

“This is a discretion of Japanese culture.”

“I saw this and felt sick.”

“I can only feel that this is mocking Japanese culture and Japanese tradition. To think this is how a fashion brand, which is supposed to put great importance on fabric, treats an obi that was weaved by an artisan.”

“Walking all over this traditional Japanese garment is insulting.”

“So, walking on Valentino’s couture is ok, then?”

“An obi isn’t spread out like this. It’s rolled up.”

“It’s extremely unpleasant that a Japanese people would appear in production in which an obi is trampled on.”

“Ahhh, I’m really disappointed in Valentino.”

“It’s almost like walking all over the Japanese national flag.”

“How would they feel if Valentino’s clothing was spread out, sat on, and walked all over?”

“An obi is not a rug and it’s also not something to be tramped on.”

“What a terrible brand.”

There is also the opinion that Koki, who was simply the model, should not be blamed for the brand’s creative decisions. 

Valentino has since removed the ad from both its official site as well as from its Instagram and YouTube. 


  • Man! I’ve been so waiting for the new Kotaku fashion articles!! Looking forward to the new direction we’re going in guys!

    But seriously, what does this have to do with gaming…. Or “Otaku” in any sense?

    • Someone says this every single time there’s a non-gaming story and every single time the answer is the same: The site is about gaming mostly, but is – and has always been – also about general nerd shit, especially if it’s from Japan. It also has regular stories about Japanese culture.

      This is a pretty big deal in Japanese culture. Like… massive. This intersects with deeply held cultural norms and religious practices.

      • Kotaku has been doing this kind of reporting since 2005, and Kotaku Australia has run these since 2007. Covering stuff from other cultures, especially Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China where it has an intersection with gamer culture — and interest in Japan especially has always been part of that venn diagram — is a very natural thing for the site to do.

        • My bad then Alex, I seriously have not seen an article to do with fashion before on here (except the Nike one which I also questioned. Although I saw that one late at night and didn’t comment, but I echoed the same sentiment)

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