NEW YORK, May 22 — After going viral in a matter of hours, the much anticipated collaboration between adidas and Gucci is a hot topic right now in China, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Users of the social network Weibo are particularly critical of one item, a (supposed) umbrella selling for over US$1,600 (about RM7,000), which doesn’t actually offer any protection from the rain.

Who would have thought it? Gucci, one of the world’s most popular luxury brands — especially in China — is currently the subject of a wave of controversy in the Middle Kingdom. The cause? One piece — out of dozens — from its collaboration with the sports equipment manufacturer adidas. More precisely, it is an umbrella priced at 11,000 yuan (equivalent to over US$1,600). While the collection is not yet available to buy — it will be released June 7 — internet users can already access the product pages and details of its various items, and this is precisely how the issue arose.

This retro-inspired ‘umbrella’ is printed all over with adidas and Gucci monograms, and is finished in a cotton and linen blend fabric with a carved birchwood handle. And a note, spotted on the bottom of the page, mentions that “this item is not waterproof and is meant for sun protection or decorative use.” And this is what surprised — and evidently shocked — users of the Weibo social network in China.

“What to think of the adidas x Gucci collaboration umbrella that costs 10,000 yuan but is not waterproof? Why don’t high-priced products have basic functions?” says one user, who is clearly puzzled by the product’s price and practicality. “Would you spend more than 10,000 yuan on a non-waterproof umbrella?” questions another. Discussion is proving very lively on the social network, to the point that a hashtag relating to the topic currently has more than 140 million views, reports the BBC.

A collector’s accessory

While the article is clearly under fire, some users still see it as a worthy collector’s item, justifying the high price. Let’s not forget that Balenciaga’s latest campaign featured busted up sneakers selling for more than €1,000, after all... In all likelihood, even if the umbrella doesn’t prove a global sensation, the buzz it has created will help the collaboration become even more viral than it already was. Note that the umbrella in question is listed as a ‘sun umbrella’ on the Gucci US website — where it is priced US$1,290 — making clear reference to its unique function.

Meanwhile, those who might actually like to protect themselves from the rain in the colours of adidas x Gucci can rest assured that the collection will feature a genuine umbrella. In any case, there’s little doubt that this retro-themed collection will be snapped up as soon as it’s released, despite any criticism or mockery. Other pieces likely to prove viral hits include men’s leather clogs, pumps stamped with the adidas logo, and platform sandals/sliders — throwbacks from the ‘80s and ‘90s that are sure to make a splash. Let’s see what happens, June 7. — ETX Studio