A host of luxury fashion brands have been accused of undermining China’s sovereignty on the back of t-shirts, resulting in a celebrity-led boycott of the brands.
Versace was found to be selling T-Shirts featuring a list of ‘city-country’ pairs, such as New York-USA and Sydney-AUSTRALIA.
But for semiautonomous regions Chinese regions it was ‘Hong Kong-HONG KONG’ and ‘Macau-MACAU’, suggesting the two cities were their own countries.
Both Hong Kong and Macau are parts of China for official purposes.
Versace announced via Chinese social media site Weibo it had discontinued the shirts.
“Versace reiterates that we love China deeply, and resolutely respect China’s territory and national sovereignty,” the company said in a statement.
Other luxury brands Coach and Givenchy have also been found to have committed similar ‘insensitivities’ on their own t-shirts.
Australian-owned jewellery firm Swarovski has also issued an apology after listing Hong Kong as a country on its website.
“Considering the recent happenings in China, Swarovski takes full responsibility and sincerely apologises to the people of China, as well as to our collaborative partners and Brand Ambassador, Ms Jiang Shuying, who have been deeply disappointed due to misleading communication on China’s national sovereignty,” said Swarovski.
As could have been expected, ‘cancel culture’ has meant there have been widespread calls to boycott these brands.
Outrage on social media has inevitably ensured, but more concerning for the luxury brands has been the revolt of influencers
For Coach, brand ambassador and supermodel Liu Wen quit her role amidst the outcry.
“My carelessness in choosing which brand to work with has brought harm to everyone; I apologise to everyone here! I love my motherland and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty,” Wen said.
Chinese boyband singer Jackson Yee has also terminated his ambassadorial agreement with Givenchy, while actress Yang Mi ended her partnership with Versace.
Fellow luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana knows how damaging it can be to upset the Chinese market.
The company was forced to cancel a Shanghai fashion show last year after it was accused of racism for running an ad that showed a Chinese woman eating Italian food with chopsticks.