Donatella Versace has apologised after one of her luxury brand’s T-shirts implied Hong Kong and Macau were countries, when they are actually Chinese territories.
One of China’s best-known actresses, Yang Mi, ended her contract with Versace over the issue, while her studio said the country’s sovereignty was “sacred”.
Her decision was a major topic on China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, attracting hundreds of millions of views.
The shirt in question featured a list of cities accompanied by the countries they are in, such as “Milan – Italy”, and “Madrid – Spain”.
It also said “Hong Kong – Hong Kong”, and “Macau – Macao”.
Versace issues apology after tshirt sparks uproar in China. Tshirt listed Hong Kong and Macau as countries rather than cities. Actress Yang Mi and Versace brand ambassador in China said she has ended her cooperation with the luxury fashion brand. #China #Versace #HongKong #Macau pic.twitter.com/Gs7E5e2oHN
— 𝕊ℍ𝔸𝔸ℕ𝕋𝔸ℕ𝕌 𝕊𝕀ℕ𝔾ℍ (@shaantanusiingh) August 12, 2019
Both are former European colonies now run with a significant degree of autonomy, despite being part of China.
Since last year, China has stepped up its monitoring of how foreign countries describe Hong Kong and Macau.
In a post on its Weibo account, Versace said it had stopped selling the garments on 24 July and had destroyed any remaining ones.
Donatella Versace, the brand’s artistic director, said she was “deeply sorry for the unfortunate recent error that is being currently discussed on various social media channels”.
The sister of Versace’s late founder Gianni added: “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.”
Versace said on its Twitter account that it “accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware”.
The Company apologizes for the design of its product and a recall of the t-shirt has been implemented in July. The brand accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware. pic.twitter.com/5K8u3c4Dbm
— VERSACE (@Versace) August 11, 2019
Yang Mi’s studio, Jiaxing Media, said that “China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty are sacred and inviolable at all times”.
The latest furore follows the removal of a Taiwanese flag from the back of a bomber jacket worn by Tom Cruise in the trailer for his upcoming Top Gun sequel.
The patches appeared to have been swapped with two random symbols in similar colours – leading to social media speculation the change was down to the film being partly produced by Tencent Pictures, a Chinese film distributor and production company.
China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of the civil war in 1949.