In less than 24 hours three luxury brands had to apologize to their Chinese customers officially for undermining the country’s ”One China” policy.
Versace was first. The Italian fashion giant faced social media backlash Sunday. The Chinese actress and singer Yang Mi announced on social media that she was ending her arrangements with the brand in response with their T-shirt design. The controversial T-shirt featured the names of Macao and Hong Kong as separate, sovereign countries at its back.
According to Yang Mi, Versace did not respect China’s territorial integrity, highlighting that the People’s Republic of China’s sovereignty is sacred and inviolable.
On Sunday, Donatella Versace, the sister of late Gianni Versace and a creative director of the company, apologized saying that she would recall the T-shirts from all the stores around the world. She also said the company regretted the unfortunate error. Versace used her personal Instagram account to assure China that the company profoundly respects its national sovereignty.
On Monday, two more luxury brands, Coach and Givenchy, also have apologized to their Chinese customers for similar reasons. Social media users initiated boycotts of the brands after their T-shirts identified Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries.
The Chinese supermodel Liu Wen, who also serves as a Coach’s ambassador to China announced Monday that she had severed her arrangements with the US-based Coach over a similar T-shirt that listed Taiwan as an independent country.
Coach also responded to the criticism saying that it did not mean to disrespect China’s territorial integrity. The firm confirmed the controversial T-shirts had already been pulled from the market worldwide in 2018.
The luxury French brand Givenchy also had to apologize to China for similar reasons. The local boy band idol Jackson Yee published pictures of one of the brand T-shirts which listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent nations.
The territorial question is a sensitive issue in China. As far as Taiwan is concerned, Beijing considers it a renegade province. Hong Kong and Macau are also Chinese territories.
The Chinese newspaper People’s Daily, which is run by the government, accused the fashion moguls in making ”foolish mistakes” during such sensitive times.
The issues around Chinese sovereignty have escalated in the past few months following the mass protests in Hong Kong. Thousands of people there are protesting against a controversial bill that would allow people from Hong Kong to be deported to China.
What is your opinion? Do you support or oppose the social media outcry against the big fashion brands?