Versace has struck nerves in China after listing Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries.
The mishap emerged on a T-shirt that showcased worldwide locations of the Italian fashion house.
Hong Kong and Macau are classified as Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — both have no seats in the United Nations.
In the wake of the controversy, Chinese Versace ambassador Yang Mi announced the termination of her contract with the company through her studio, Jiaxing Xingguang, on Weibo.
“Our company and Ms. Yang found online that some clothing designed by Versace is suspected of damaging China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said, according to China Daily. “We as a company of the People’s Republic of China, and Yang being a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, we are deeply offended.”
It added, “The national sovereignty and territorial integrity is sacred and cannot be violated under any circumstances. It is the duty of all Chinese citizens to uphold the One-China principle and adamantly safeguard national unification.”
In response to the backlash, Versace issued an apology on Twitter announcing that the T-shirt in question had already been pulled from its shelves last month.
“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.”
Chief Creative Officer Donatella Versace, sister of the Italian fashion house’s founder, Gianni Versace, also penned her own apology 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 apologize for such inaccuracy and for any distress that it might have caused.”
Shortly after this incident, fashion labels Givenchy and Coach have also come under fire for designing shirts that did not identify Hong Kong as part of China.
Both brands also appeared to imply that Taiwan is an independent country, according to CNN.
While Versace has drawn ire in China, the company won support from international netizens, who argued that it should not be sorry when China is unapologetically producing “all the fake Versace.”
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