Published: Mon, August 12, 2019

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

Versace has angered Chinese fans after labeling Hong Kong and Macau as countries rather than Chinese regions on a new T-shirt design, CNN reports.

Versace, bought by Michael Kors' Capri Holdings Ltd (CPRI.N) in September, said on its Chinese Weibo account that there had occurred a mistake and reported that as of 24 July, the sales of the T-shirts had been stopped and the assortment destroyed.

Versace's representative in China, actress Yang Mi, said she would stop collaborating with the fashion house over the T-shirt incident, saying the brand was "suspected of damaging our country's national sovereignty".

The T-shirts and hoodies, which had a price tag starting at US$380, featured a list of famous cities and the countries they can be found in, for instance "Milan - ITALY" or "New York - USA".

The studio for Yang Mi, who had been a brand ambassador for Versace, said in a Weibo post it had sent notice to Versace to terminate their contract.

Separately, popular Chinese boy band idol Jackson Yee said on Weibo he had severed ties with LVMH's Givenchy after pictures of one of the brand's T-shirts, which also listed Hong Kong and Taiwan in a similar way, received criticism.

"China's territorial integrity and sovereignty are sacred and inviolable at all times", the statement said.

Versace apologised in China for selling T-shirts it said attached incorrect country names to cities.

On the evening of August 11, the company's artistic director Donatella Versace released an official apology on several social media platforms.

The company, and designer Donatella Versace, have both since apologized for the "unfortunate" error.

"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.

That split was one of the most viewed topics on Weibo on Sunday, attracting more than 640m views. "I love my motherland and resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty". Both former European colonies were returned to China in the late 1990s.

The two 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 huge market.

Nike pulled its collaboration with Japanese streetwear label Undercover from Chinese shelves in June after Undercover shared a post supporting contentious protests against a proposal to allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China.

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

Taiwan is self-governed and has a democratically elected leadership, but China claims the island as a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to ensure unification.

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