U.S. Markets closed

Versace apologises for a T-shirt that triggered criticism from China

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK

Luxury clothing house Versace has apologised for a T-shirt that was criticised for identifying Hong Kong and Macau as countries independent of China.

The piece of clothing featured a list of cities around the world, such as Milan, Italy, and London, UK. However, it put down Chinese territories as "Hong Kong - Hong Kong", and "Macau - Macao" — defining them as separate nations to China.

While both places have a significant degree of autonomy and are former European colonies, Hong Kong and Macau are regarded as part of China.

The company, as well as its artistic director Donatella Versace, said in a statement both English and Mandarin, that “Versace reiterates that we love China deeply, and resolutely respect China’s territory and national sovereignty” and that it was “deeply sorry” for the design of its product. It confirmed it has recalled the T-shirt.

Popular actress Yang Mi, Versace’s China brand ambassador, cut ties with the brand following the incident.

Her studio, Jiaxing Media said: "China's territorial integrity and sovereignty are sacred and inviolable at all times.”

On Monday, there were over 860 million views for the hashtag #YangMiStopsWorkingWithVersace on China’s social media site Weibo.

READ MORE: Coach, Givenchy in hot water over China T-shirt row

Donatella Versace said on Instagram: “I am deeply sorry for the unfortunate recent error that was made by our Company and that is being currently discussed on various social media channels. Never have I wanted to disrespect China’s National Sovereignty and this is why I wanted to personally apologise for such inaccuracy and for any distress that it might have caused.”

Yang is the latest out of a line of Chinese brand ambassadors for luxury fashion chains, such as Coach and Givenchy, which have stopped endorsing labels which have been criticised for allegedly violating China's sovereignty by identifying Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries separate to China.

Other retailers have also come under fire for controversial T-shirts related to China.

In May 2018, US retailer GAP apologised for selling a T-shirt that some criticised for having an “incorrect map” of China.

On the shirt, there were a number of Chinese-claimed territories omitted — including south Tibet.

READ MORE: Cathay Pacific shares tank as it bows to China to sack staff over Hong Kong protests