Three of the world’s largest fashion houses, Versace, Coach, and Givenchy, have issued apologies to Chinese consumers over sovereignty and territorial integrity issues that have angered citizens of the world’s most populous market.
Images of the shirts, which featured lists of prominent world cities, started circulating on Weibo over the weekend. All three fashion brands listed Hong Kong as being in the country of Hong Kong, while Givenchy and Coach displayed Taiwan as a nation separate from China, which claims sovereignty over the island of 23 million people.
Versace was additionally criticized for listing Macau, a special administrative region of China, as a country.
In one post, the user asks, according to the translation, “Can these big names respect national sovereignty?”
Apologies Issued, T-Shirts Pulled
All three of the well-known fashion brands have said they stopped selling the T-shirts and issued apologies via social media.
Versace posted on Twitter Sunday, telling Chinese consumer: “The brand accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware.”
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
Donatella Versace additionally issued an apology on Instagram, writing “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.”
View this post on Instagram
“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
Coach posted an apology using similar language, saying that it “respects and supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
— Coach (@Coach) August 12, 2019
Celebrities Cut Brand Ties
According to CNN, Coach brand ambassador, supermodel Liu Wen, announced she had cut ties with the brand.
“At any time, China’s sovereignty and territory integrity are inviolable! My carelessness in choosing which brand to work with has brought harm to everyone; I apologize to everyone here! I love my motherland and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty.”
Liu additionally posted a letter from her lawyer. The post said that the brand had “severely hurt the feelings of Chinese people.”
Other Chinese celebrities have also cut ties following the controversy. Actor and singer Yang Mi, who was previously a brand ambassador for Versace, announced the termination of her contract with the fashion house through the Weibo account of her studio, Jiaxing Xingguang.
Popular singer Jackson Yee, of the Chinese boy band TFBoys, also said that he had discontinued working with Givenchy.
According to CNN, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper criticized both Versace and Coach for making “foolish mistakes” during a “sensitive period.”
All of this follows an apology issued this week by Japanese-based footwear company Asics for its English website listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries separate from China, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Last year Gap apologized for selling a T-shirt that was described as having an “incorrect” map of China due to its omission of South Tibet, Taiwan, and islands in the South China Sea – territories that China claims as its own.
American clothing retailer @Gap on Monday apologized for printing incomplete Chinese map on T-shirts for sales outside #China, said the brand respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity pic.twitter.com/uHJoLnpmr6
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) May 14, 2018
Gap went so far as to destroy the remaining stock of T-shirts to show its sincerity.
Prominent brands Marriott and Delta Airlines also issued apologies in 2018 regarding information posted on their websites that didn’t align with China’s territorial claims.