Vans sneakers boycotted in Hong Kong after they pulled a protest-themed shoe design from public competition

In Hong Kong, a boycott has begun of skateboard lifestyle brand Vans after the company pulled the above design from their annual Vans Custom Culture competition. In the contest, the public is invited to submit their designs in competition for a cash prize and having their shoe design manufactured. This particular design is themed around the current anti-government protests in Hong Kong and it was apparently doing quite well in the competition. From CNN:

The design, attributed to a Canada-based user named Naomiso, features a red bauhinia, the flower on Hong Kong's flag, and one of the yellow umbrellas synonymous with the city's 2014 pro-democracy protests. Illustrations on the sneaker's side depict a crowd of protesters wearing gas masks, goggles and hard hats.

On Saturday, with over a week of voting still to go, the submission was removed from the competition website. In a statement posted on Facebook in Chinese and English, the brand said that "a small number of artistic submissions have been removed ... to uphold the purpose of Custom Culture."

"As a brand that is open to everyone, we have never taken a political position and therefore review designs to ensure they are in line with our company's long-held values of respect and tolerance, as well as with our clearly communicated guidelines for this competition," the statement said, without referring specifically to the protest-themed design.

The statement drew condemnation on social media from Hong Kong protest supporters, where a number of posts were accompanied by the hashtag #boycottVans.