Donatella Versace Apologizes to China for Offending Country With T-Shirt

Carla Harmon
August 12, 2019

The luxury fashion label Versace and its artistic director, Donatella Versace, apologised to China on Sunday after one of its T-shirts was criticised for identifying the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau as countries.

Chinese users online, however, were not mollified.

Coach's China ambassador, supermodel Liu Wen, said on Weibo today that she had severed her endorsement deal with the New York-based label over a similar T-shirt, which also listed Taiwan as a country even though Beijing says the self-ruled island is a renegade province.

It also described Hong Kong and Macau as "Hong Kong-Hong Kong" and 'Macau-Macau'.

The company, and designer Donatella Versace, have both since apologized for the "unfortunate" error. The label claimed the design of the T-shirt in question dates back to previous year, and that it had already been pulled "from all channels globally".

Coach said in a statement Monday that the clothes with the "serious inaccuracy" had been pulled, adding it was "fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it". We have also taken immediate action to review and correct relevant website content. Coach is dedicated to long-term development in China, and we respect the feelings of the Chinese people.

A similar Givenchy T-shirt also drew criticism from Chinese consumers.

Versace is not the first brand to find itself in controversy when it comes to China-Hong Kong relations.

Versace issued a separate apology on Twitter, announcing the T-shirt would no longer be for sale.

"At all times, China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred and inviolable!" she posted on her official Weibo account. "My carelessness in choosing which brand to work with has brought harm to everyone; I apologize to everyone here!"

On Monday, there were over 860 million views for the hashtag #YangMiStopsWorkingWithVersace on China's social media site Weibo. "We love China and resolutely respect China's territorial national sovereignty", the Italian brand wrote on its Weibo account on Sunday.

A photo of a Versace T-shirt which appears to suggest that Hong Kong is its own country.

In May 2018, USA 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.

Donatella Versace said on Instagram: "I am deeply sorry for the unfortunate recent error that was made by our Company and that is being now discussed on various social media channels".

This is the 10th week in a row of sometimes-violent protests in the territory over fears of growing political influence of Chinese authorities in Hong Kong. Some protestors' demands have since expanded to include calls for universal suffrage.

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