Published: Mon, August 12, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Coach, Givenchy join Versace in apologizing to Chinese consumers amid T-shirt outcry

Coach, Givenchy join Versace in apologizing to Chinese consumers amid T-shirt outcry

Luxury fashion brands Versace, Coach, and Givenchy have apologized for making perceived affronts to China's national sovereignty with T-shirts listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries.

Hong Kong, operated under China's "one country, two systems" policy, has become particularly sensitive in the mainland as the Asian financial hub has been plunged into months of pro-democracy protests.

Yang Mi, a Chinese actress and Versace's first brand ambassador from the country, announced Saturday that she would no longer work with the label in light of the controversy.

"Versace reiterates that we love China deeply, and resolutely respect China's territory and national sovereignty", they said in a statement. Both designs neglected to identify Hong Kong as part of China, while appearing to imply that Taiwan - considered a renegade province by Beijing - is an independent country.

The brands are the latest to get into hot water over political issues in China, which has been more assertive in its territorial claims and how it expects foreign companies doing businesses in China to describe them.

By the time the apologies were issued, both brands had been facing significant backlash from social media users and celebrity brand ambassadors.

"China's territorial integrity and sovereignty are sacred and inviolable at all times".

Italian fashion house Versace has apologised for an "inaccuracy" which caused uproar on social media in China.

Other companies have been criticised by nationalists for not reflecting the official view as to what constitutes Chinese sovereign territory.

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"We are fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it", continued the message, which was posted on Coach's official Twitter and Instagram channels.

The ending of Yang's relationship with Versace was one of the most viewed topics on Weibo on Sunday, attracting over 640 million views.

In May 2018, U.S. clothing retailer Gap apologized over a T-shirt showing a map of mainland China that omitted Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province awaiting reunification.

The three luxury brands are the latest examples of foreign companies that have run afoul of the many political sensitivities that go with operating in China's enormous market.

Designer Donatella Versace has since apologised for the "unfortunate" error.

Following widespread discontent, Lam announced that the bill was "dead," but protests have continued as citizens fear the growing influence of Chinese authorities in Hong Kong.

In 2018, Dolce & Gabbana faced an angry backlash after a video showed a Chinese model struggling to use chopsticks to eat a pizza.

The design featured just the mainland and not territories that China also claims, such as Taiwan.

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