Chinese backlash against ad for diamond-studded suits

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BEIJING -- Haideshen - a locally well-known garment maker in Dongyang City, Zhejiang Province - is being harshly criticized for an ad promoting expensive, Western-style suits, some encrusted with diamonds and pure gold buttons. To mark the opening of its franchised store in Jinhua City of the province, the company specially made 10 Haideshen brand Western-style suits with imported materials.

Its advertisement asks: "How many suits can 500,000 yuan ($60,240) buy?" Of the 10 special suits, the most expensive is $8,192, while the cheapest one cost $2,409. Members of the public have criticized the company for its attempt to stimulate conspicuous consumption, while the company defends its strategy of attracting attention. One worker at the Hangzhou Iron and Steel Works wrote in a letter sent to Haideshen's manager: "I have worked at the works for five years and suffered a lot from the hard working conditions, which I felt proud in the past. But now I feel very sad because what I have earned in the past five years is not enough to buy one set of your suits..."

Despite the public outcry, however, nine of the 10 Western suits have already been bought, mostly by business people and owners of construction companies.

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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