A Russian customer found a note with a request for help on a pair of sneakers delivered to him on November 12.
A resident of St. Petersburg, Mr. Arslan Gibadullin, found a note with a plea for help in The North Face sneakers ordered from an online store. The note was glued on the top of the shoe, Mr. Gibadullin explained.
“Help. I'm in a prison in China. Please, help. Uigur", the author of the note wrote.
After Mr. Gibadullin published the photo of the note on The North Face Instagram account, an officer initially responded: It is spam. Ignore it. Thank you for your message. But later, this response was removed.
The North Face did not respond to media inquiries.
The Russian Paper medium learned that The North Face, in an official response, denied that the company had any links to China.
The shoes on the photograph have never been in China, stated the firm's regional manager Ms. Inna Rubanova. She insisted that shoes manufactured in Vietnam were sent to Belgium and from there were delivered to Russia.
However, the label on the box informs that the shoe supplier is VF International SAGL, export-import company registered in Stabio, Switzerland.
The information provided by VF International SAGL on its website states that firm controls "over 30 brands related to informal and sportswear" including The North Face, and it has three offices in Communist China - in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Among the services Swiss company listed are "search for distributors, partners and support for the establishment of communication channels; B2B / B2C sales pipeline development" in Communist China.
Until now, The North Face was not mentioned in any reports documenting links between supply-chains of the known brands and the slave labor centers in Communist China.