Media Moves

Versace in hot water with China over t-shirt design

August 12, 2019

Posted by Yvonne Zacharias

Luxury brand Versace has apologized after an image on one of its t-shirts appeared to imply Hong Kong and Macau were independent territories, reports the BBC.  (

After fierce criticism on social media in China, Versace said it had made a mistake and had stopped selling the tops.

It said it “respects the sovereignty of China’s territorial state.”

The Versace t-shirts, images of which were shared on social media, featured city-country pairs such as Milan-Italy and London-UK.

These also included Hong Kong-Hong Kong and Macau-Macau.

In a post on China’s social media website Weibo, the Italian fashion label said it had stopped selling and had destroyed the t-shirts as of 24 July.

“We apologize for the dispute. We love China and respect the sovereignty of China’s territorial state,” a translation of Versace’s statement said.

The label’s artistic director Donatella Versace issued a similar apology.

“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,” she said on her Instagram account.

The incident also led to Versace’s China brand ambassador Yang Mi, a popular actress in the country, cutting ties with the brand.

Fashion brands Givenchy and Coach are also facing a backlash for not adhering to China’s territorial claims.

Coach’s China ambassador Liu Wen, a model, said on Weibo that she had ended her contract with the company over a t-shirt which listed Taiwan as a country.

Coach said it corrected the error last year and apologized.

Separately, Chinese boy band member Jackson Yee said he had quit as a Givenchy spokesman after pictures emerged of one of its shirts listing Hong Kong and Taiwan in a similar way. Givenchy also apologized.

Last year, the Gap apologised for selling t-shirts which it said showed an “incorrect map” of China.

The design featured just the mainland and not territories that China also claims, such as Taiwan. Beijing considers self-ruling Taiwan to be a breakaway province.

Several other companies including Marriott and Delta Airlines issued similar apologies in 2018 after information on their websites appeared to conflict with China’s territorial claims.

Beijing had earlier demanded a group of foreign airlines respect China’s sovereignty claims and change the way they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

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