Chanel Restricting Sales to Russian Customers
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PARIS — For weeks, luxury brands have been shutting down business in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Chanel is no different — it has stopped selling clothes, perfumes, and its other luxury products to Russian customers outside the country if they intend to use the products within the borders of the country.
Chanel sales assistants are to ask Russian customers whether they intend to use their bags in Russia, regardless of what country they are purchasing them in. Chanel says that this is simply their compliance with trade sanctions that have been imposed on the country by the European Union, Switzerland, and others.
In a statement, the company commented on the sanctions, stating that the restrictions in the EU and Switzerland “prohibit the sale, directly of indirectly, of luxury items to any natural, legal person or entity in the Russian Federation or for use in the Russian federation. We understand that these measures, aimed at complying with the requirements of the law, may create certain inconveniences for some customers. We are currently working to improve the procedure and apologize for any related misunderstandings and inconveniences.”
As reported by the New York Post, Russian interior designer and influencer Liza Litvin was refused a Chanel bag in Dubai. “I went to a Chanel boutique in the Mall of the Emirates. They didn’t sell me the bag because (attention!) I am from Russia…They asked for my ID details and I gave my Russian phone number. Next, the manager said that starting today they were selling to Russians only if they sign an agreement not to wear their items in Russia.”
Could this potentially be discriminatory? Founder and director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, Susan Scafidi, thinks so. “Chanel could argue that it’s caught between a rock and a hard place, but unless they are asking everyone, every single customer, whether they are from down the block living in Paris, born and raised, or they are from Russia…that’s potentially discriminatory,” she told Business of Fashion.
Long Nguyen, fashion critic and co-founder of Flaunt Magazine, cites Chanel’s decision to suffer financially comes from their desire to appeal to Gen Z clients who largely oppose the war. “It’s bold for Chanel — this is almost unprecedented. The house is putting its principle above the buck,” he says, saying that Chanel’s decision represents “more than a mere application of sanction laws.”
Luxury giants LVMH and Kering have not commented.