Los Angeles based Chinatown Market has announced that it will be changing its name after recently being called out on social media.
Co-founded in 2016 by Mike Cherman, the brand, must now completely rethink its identity. The announcement follows several days of controversy on social networks spearheaded by Diet_Prada, who called CTM out for making it seem like Chinatown was nothing more than a shady counterfeit market, and for imitating asian culture, when in fact both CTM founders Mike Cherman and Dan Altmann are Caucasian. The call for the name change came after a wave of racist attacks against the Asian population in the United States.
It’s time for @ChinatownMarket to rebrand. The white-owned streetwear brand’s appropriation of a historic and culturally significant neighborhood propagates the idea that #Chinatown is nothing more than a shady counterfeit market. NYC’s Chinatown is a bustling culture beloved for its amazing restaurants, fish and produce markets, and countless small businesses, but it’s also one of Manhattan’s few remaining neighborhoods for low-income residents. In 2019, the NYC Government Poverty Measure found that 23.8% of the city’s Asian population lives in poverty. 1/4 of these are Asian seniors.– Diet Prada
Disproportionately impacted by Trump’s COVID-fueled Sinophobia, the local economy has also taken a hit and the community’s resilience is constantly being tested. As gentrification imposes threats on residents and local businesses, #ChinatownMarket ’s @mikechermanand Dan Altmann are pulling in an estimated 8 figures a year, according to anonymous sources. Retail partners like @urbanoutfitters and @footlocker, as well as collaborations with @pumaand @converse , have further bolstered the brand’s success. The latter recently posted a statement in solidarity with the #StopAsianHate , then publicized their collaboration two weeks later, describing their aesthetic as “nostalgic.” Could you imagine a white man doing the same with a brand called “Harlem”?
For a brand that claims roots/ties to Chinatown, they seem to have done very little to support them in a year that’s seen a shocking surge of xenophobia and violence against the AAPI community. Their first post acknowledging anti-Asian hate was posted 2 days after the Atlanta shootings. While it featured a list of AAPI charities to support, there was no acknowledgement of the shooting or the victims, 6 of 8 who were Asian women.
That same day, they dropped “Stop Asian Hate” merch, and while proceeds benefit AAPI causes, they certainly have the means to do more that centering the brand and its products. A Change.org petition by @j.bush is demanding a rebrand, and it’s been endorsed by notable fashion personalities from the AAPI community including Humberto Leon, Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim, and Tina Leung.