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    Supreme Confusion in China Over Samsung’s Latest Partnership

    Fans of American fashion label Supreme were caught off guard when Samsung China announced its collaboration with an Italian brand of the same name.

    Chinese fans of American fashion label Supreme were left angry and confused on Tuesday after they discovered that Samsung China had secured a partnership deal not with their beloved brand, but with a similarly named brand, Supreme Italia.

    Samsung’s China division announced a strategic partnership with “Supreme” during the launch of its latest smartphone model in the presence of officials they claimed on Monday were from Supreme Brand Management Ltd. Whoever first discovered that Samsung China had partnered with Supreme’s counterpart is unclear; however, netizens were quick to respond.

    “Samsung was fooled,” said an upvoted comment on microblogging site Weibo. “Suspend [the partnership] before it’s too late,” another user posted. “There’s no way Samsung hasn’t realized what the whole thing means.”

    On Tuesday, Supreme distanced itself from the partnership, clarifying that it is not working with Samsung. On its Instagram Story, Supreme also dismissed claims that the brand is opening a flagship store in Beijing and participating in a runway show. Supreme filed a counterfeit lawsuit in August against the registered Italian brand, Supreme Italia, but lost due to a legal loophole.

    “[Samsung China’s] claims are blatantly false and propagated by a counterfeit organization,” Supreme’s Instagram Story said.

    A screenshot of Leo Lau, Samsung China’s digital marketing manager, shows him responding to the confusion in a Weibo post that claimed his company was collaborating with Supreme Italia, not U.S.-based Supreme, given that the latter isn’t an authorized retailer in China. The post has since been deleted, and Samsung China had not responded to Sixth Tone’s request for comment by the time of publication.

    As more young Chinese shift from consuming luxury brands to streetwear, brands like Supreme — with its recognizable rectangular logo — have become popular fashion staples. However, high prices and an absence of authorized retailers means knockoff versions are sold in brick-and-mortar stores across Chinese cities — even more so on e-commerce sites like Taobao and Pinduoduo, two go-to platforms for bargain hunters seeking name-brand products.

    Correction: A previous version of this article misquoted Supreme’s Instagram Story.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: Samsung China marketing head Feng En introduces a collaboration with streetwear brand ‘Supreme’ during the launch event for the Samsung Galaxy A8s smartphone in Beijing, Dec. 10, 2018. IC)