3 fashion brands sorry for insulting China's sovereignty

A Coach T-shirt listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as being separate from China provoked anger online. PHOTO: WEIBO Chinese model Liu Wen (above) said she was terminating her work with Coach, while Chinese actress Yang Mi (left) said she would stop collabo
Chinese model Liu Wen (above) said she was terminating her work with Coach, while Chinese actress Yang Mi said she would stop collaborating with Versace.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A Coach T-shirt listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as being separate from China provoked anger online. PHOTO: WEIBO Chinese model Liu Wen (above) said she was terminating her work with Coach, while Chinese actress Yang Mi (left) said she would stop collabo
Chinese model Liu Wen said she was terminating her work with Coach, while Chinese actress Yang Mi (above) said she would stop collaborating with Versace.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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

Versace was criticised on Sunday for a T-shirt that implied that Hong Kong and Macau - both semi-autonomous cities in China - were independent.

Hong Kong has become a particularly sensitive subject in mainland China as the city has been plunged into months of anti-government protests.

Yesterday, images of a T-shirt from Coach that said Taiwan - a self-ruled island which Beijing regards as its territory - and Hong Kong were not part of China provoked anger online.

Givenchy, too, was criticised for a similar offence: a black T-shirt that listed Taiwan and Hong Kong separately from cities in mainland China.

All three companies have tried to minimise the damage over the mistakes that cost them their high-profile Chinese brand ambassadors.

Coach said in a statement yesterday the clothes with the "serious inaccuracy" had been pulled, adding that it was "fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regrets it". It corrected its website as well, after Chinese users shared screenshots online showing Hong Kong in a "find by country" drop-down list.

Versace has also apologised. "We love China and resolutely respect China's territorial national sovereignty," the Italian brand wrote on its Twitter-like Weibo account on Sunday.

Givenchy's Weibo apology also reiterated its respect for China's sovereignty, and said the brand "resolutely upholds the One China Principle".

 WEIBO Chinese model Liu Wen (above) said she was terminating her work with Coach, while Chinese actress Yang Mi (left) said she would stop collabo
A Coach T-shirt listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as being separate from China provoked anger online. PHOTO: WEIBO

But some Chinese users online were not mollified. "There should be no missing part of China - Versace get out of China!" wrote an angry Weibo user yesterday.

Versace's representative in China, actress Yang Mi, announced that 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".

Similarly, Coach's ambassador, Chinese model Liu Wen, said she was terminating her work with the brand over its T-shirt blunder.

And Jackson Yee, a hugely popular singer in boy band TFBoys, pulled the plug on collaborating with Givenchy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2019, with the headline '3 fashion brands sorry for insulting China's sovereignty'. Print Edition | Subscribe