ersace has become the latest international brand to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people with a T-shirt.
That shirt featured a list of cities with country names attached: “Milan, Italy,” “Las Vegas, USA,” and “Beijing, China.” However, two of China’s special administrative regions were listed as though they were independent countries: “Hong Kong, Hong Kong” and “Macau, Macau.”
Fortunately for the luxury Italian fashion house, Taipei was not one of the cities listed on the shirt.
Anger over the T-shirt became the top trending topic on Weibo on Monday after Chinese superstar actress Yang Mi announced that she had resigned as Versace’s brand ambassador.
“The clothing designed by the brand Versace is suspected of violating China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity… As a Chinese citizen, Ms Yang Mi feels very indignant about his matter!” reads a statement from her studio.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the motherland is sacred and inviolable at all times. Adhering to the one-China principle and resolutely safeguarding the reunification of the motherland is the unshirkable responsibility of every citizen of the People’s Republic of China!” it continued.
Versace has since issued public apologies for the shirt on its social media accounts, writing on Weibo that “we love China and resolutely respect the sovereignty of China’s territorial state.”
The company added that the shirts have been recalled and “destroyed.”
The Company apologizes for the design of its product and a recall of the t-shirt has been implemented in July. The brand accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware. pic.twitter.com/5K8u3c4Dbm
— VERSACE (@Versace) August 11, 2019
The label’s artistic director Donatella Versace even issued a personal apology on her Instagram page.
“I am deeply sorry for the unfortunate recent error that was made by our Company and that is being currently discussed on various social media channels,” she wrote. “Never have I wanted to disrespect China’s National Sovereignty and this is why I wanted to personally apologize for such inaccuracy and for any distress that it might have caused.”
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“I am deeply sorry for the unfortunate recent error that was made by our Company and that is being currently discussed on various social media channels. Never have I wanted to disrespect China’s National Sovereignty and this is why I wanted to personally apologize for such inaccuracy and for any distress that it might have caused.” @donatella_versace
Meanwhile, two other luxury fashion brands, Givenchy and Coach, have found themselves in the exact same mess with Chinese netizens sharing images of their T-shirts listing cities as “Taipei, Taiwan” and “Hong Kong, Hong Kong.”
Both brands have issued apologies but not before seeing Chinese stars (supermodel Liu Wen for Coach and TFBoys member Jackson Yee for Givenchy) cut ties with the companies.
This great T-shirt rectification campaign comes more than a year after China forced a number of international companies — from Delta to Zara — to change their drop-down menus and promotional materials to remove any reference suggesting that Taiwan is an independent country.
Last May, American clothing retailer Gap declared that it respected China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity after getting in trouble over a T-shirt which featured a map of China that did not include Taiwan.
Most recently, even Harry Potter fell afoul of the one-China policy.