US fashion house Coach facing potential boycott in China

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/12 12:19:56

US fashion brand Coach has sparked online outrage on Chinese social media after it was found to list Hong Kong and Taiwan as "countries" on its products and website. Chinese model Liu Wen, a current brand ambassador for Coach, halted cooperation with the brand on Monday.

Coach's behavior has seriously impacted the national sentiment of the Chinese people, and its behavior should be severely condemned, read Liu Wen's statement.

The products in question are T-shirts from the Coach 1941 series, featuring a list of countries and their famous cities on their reverse side, including "Chicago, United States" and "Milan, Italy".

Four cities in China are also on the list. But while Shanghai and Beijing are listed under China, Taipei is listed as "Taipei, Taiwan," in a manner that separates the island of Taiwan from China. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is listed independently as "Hong Kong," with no country name following.

Such disrespect for China's territorial integrity is also clear on Coach's official website, where it was found to list Hong Kong, and Taiwan as independent countries under its "search country" option. The Coach website has been taken down "for maintenance," as of press time.

The pictures of said T-shrits and website screenshots have been circulating on Chinese social media, and netizens are expressing outrage toward the brand. "Coach" has become a top-trending hashtag on China's Twitter-like Weibo.

Later on the same day, French luxury brand Givenchy and Japanese sports brand Asics were found to have made similar mistakes by netizens. Givenchy leapfrogged Coach to become the latest top-trending hashtag on Weibo, and Chinese celebrity Yi Yangqianxi, announced he was ending his association with the company. Asics China Trading Co quickly posted a statement of apology, stressing that it abides by the one-China policy and noted that it has communicated with its Japanese headquarters to correct related mistakes.

The People's Daily on Monday commented that companies operating in China should abide by Chinese laws. These "coincidently" similar mistakes, especially during the current "sensitive moment," when Hong Kong is being assaulted by rioters, are even more egregious, and will only dim the prospects of their brand prestige in the Chinese market.

"Both Hong Kong and Taiwan are China's territories. If an international company doesn't know this kind of basic common sense, it should get out of China," a Beijing-based consumer told the Global Times on Monday.

"It's not that they don't know, they are blatantly challenging China's bottom line," a netizen on Weibo said.

Coach is the second brand which has found itself in troubled waters with Chinese customers for mislabeling Chinese cities as countries this week. On Sunday, the Italian fashion brand Versace apologized for a similar range of clothes which implied Hong Kong and Macao were separate countries, saying that it was a mistake in their design and the offending clothing would be "destroyed".

Versace's brand ambassador in China, Yang Mi, said she would terminate her cooperation with the brand. 

Another Italian brand, Dolce & Gabbana, is still suffering from the aftermath of a racist video that insulted China last November. Chinese people did not accept the brand's insincere apology, Bloomberg reported. The brand was removed from online retailers in China, such as Alibaba's Tmall and, after the event.

Global Times
Newspaper headline: Fashion brand Coach faces potential boycott in China for listing HK, Taiwan as countries


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