Gucci apology to Hong Kong funeral shops over paper fakes warning

Gucci bag paper offering

Italian luxury goods maker Gucci has apologised for sending warning letters to Hong Kong shops selling paper versions of its products as offerings to the dead.

Paper replicas of items like mansions, cars, iPads and luxury bags are burned in the belief that deceased relatives can use them in the afterlife.

Demand is highest during March's Qingming "tomb-sweeping" festival.

On Friday, Gucci said it would not pursue legal action.

A letter sent by Gucci's Chinese parent company Kering said they trusted the shops were not trying to infringe on Gucci's trademark.

"We regret any misunderstandings that may have been caused and sincerely apologise to anyone we may have offended through our action," the letter said.

The company had "utmost respect" for the funeral rites, it said.

The practice of burning such items comes from the belief that spirits continue to influence the lives of the living, and that it is important to keep the spirits of one's ancestors happy.

The BBC's Juliana Liu, in Hong Kong, said relatives traditionally used to bring fruit and gourmet food to graves.

These days, however, relatives offer items that many were never able to enjoy while still alive, such as fake brand-name clothing or luxury cars with European drivers. Another offering is a mock-up villa, complete with swimming pool and luxury cars.

After the original warning letters were sent, some of the Hong Kong shops had removed their Gucci wares - but other brands, including Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry and New Balance were still on sale.

The warning letters had attracted amusement and scorn on social media in Hong Kong, with one resident joking: "Does Gucci want to open branches in the underworld?"

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