Italian designer Versace and US brand Coach are facing a backlash in China for content that referred to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau as independent countries.
Coach is finding itself in trouble in China, within a day after Versace was criticised over its T-shirt design. The T-shirt design, part of a Coach and Disney collection released in May 2018, listed Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan separately from China. Images of the design have gone viral on social media.
According to The South China Morning Post, social media users have accused Coach of supporting Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwanese independence. They were also upset that Coach’s store locator on its website listed Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as three separate countries.
The issue has irrupted as Beijing claims Hong Kong and Macau as parts of its integrated territory evens as Hong Kong is facing intensified protests as activists have been demanding independence from mainland China.
Amidst disturbances over Hong Kong’s territorial status, shirt designs from Versace and Coach have drawn swift condemnation from some Chinese consumers on Weibo, who perceived it as being politically-charged, the drum.com has reported.
The Italian fashion house under pressure has ditched the range and issued an apology saying it “respects the sovereignty of China’s territorial state”.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Versace artistic director Donatella Versace has stated: “Never have I wanted to disrespect China’s National Sovereignty and this is why I wanted to personally apologise for such inaccuracy and any distress that it might have caused.”
Meanwhile, Versace’s Chinese brand ambassador actress Yang Mi quit her deal with the brand, saying “China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty are sacred and inviolable at all times.”
Coach has also apologised, releasing a statement saying: “In May 2018, we found a serious inaccuracy in the design of a few T-shirts … We also reviewed our entire assortment to ensure compliance, and have strengthened our internal product development process to avoid the occurrence of a similar issue in the future. We are fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it.”
The brand also said it had “taken immediate action to review and correct relevant website content”, in response to the unhappiness over its store locator.
Model Liu Wen, Coach’s ambassador in China, has apologised for not being rigorous in her selection of brands to represent and said she would end her collaboration with Coach since its behaviour had “hurt the national feelings of the Chinese people” and must be condemned seriously”.
Celebrities based in China who do not use their influence to support the Mainland’s politics and causes can find work hard to come by.
Aside from Coach and Versace, other luxury brands that have found themselves in similar situations are Burberry and Dolce & Gabanna.