Versace apologizes for T-shirt that mislabels HK, Macao as countries

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/11 12:35:10

Netizens slam fashion brand for mislabeling HK, Macao as countries

A photo of a Versace T-shirt featuring lists of "city - COUNTRY" on the back, including "Hong Kong - HONG KONG" and "Macau - MACAO." Photo: Screenshot of a post on Sina Weibo

Italian luxury brand Versace apologized Sunday after its Chinese brand spokesperson Yang Mi announced she was ending cooperation with the company over a controversial T-shirt that mislabeled Hong Kong and Macao as countries. 

"Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred, inviolable, and brook no division," Yang's studio announced via China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform on Sunday.

The announcement said Yang sent a notification to Versace to cancel the contract with the brand and had stopped all cooperation.

The announcement came a few hours after a Chinese internet user posted online photos of a Versace T-shirt featuring lists of "city - COUNTRY" on the back, including "Hong Kong - HONG KONG" and "Macau - MACAO." 

Both Hong Kong and Macao are special administrative regions of China.

The photos soon went viral on Chinese social media, agitating many netizens. 

"Versace suspected of supporting Hong Kong and Macao secession" and "Versace apologized" became trending hashtags on Weibo with more than 600 million views as of press time.

Versace apologized 12 minutes after Yang's announcement.

"Our mistaken design resulted in some cities not coming with their correct country," Versace posted on Weibo. "The T-shirt was removed from its shelves  and destroyed on July 24…We deeply apologize."

The brand "reiterates that we love China, and resolutely respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Chinese internet user hailed Yang's quick reaction and patriotic decision, but did not accept Versace's apology.

"Every Chinese holds a no-tolerance attitude toward any speech and actions attempting to split China" and "Do not try in vain to use 'mistaken design' as an excuse to challenge China's sovereignty" were typical views posted.

Versace selling the T-shirt is illegal and "hurts Chinese national feelings," Zhu Wei, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Zhu noted that amid riots in Hong Kong, such an incident "could have an ulterior motive." 

Yang merely fulfilled her duty and followed the bottom line of business activity, Zhu said, as celebrities are not allowed to speak for products suspected of breaking the law.

According to China's Advertising Law, an advertisement cannot harm the country's dignity and interests, and its spokesperson takes responsibility for the advertising. 

Versace's official website shows that US fashion brand Michael Kors bought the brand in 2018 and is now its holding company. 

Michael Kors had not commented on the incident as of press time, prompting more expressions of discontent on Chinese social media.

The T-shirt priced about  3,000 yuan ($425) on, a Chinese e-commerce platform,  have been removed as of press time.
Newspaper headline: Versace apologizes for T-shirt snafu

Posted in: SOCIETY

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