Italian fashion brand Versace and its artistic director, Donatella Versace, issued an apology on Sunday, August 11th, after one of the company’s T-shirts was criticised for attaching incorrect country names to cities and challenging China's territorial integrity.
Versace did not identify the T-shirt in its own post on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media site, but the Global Times newspaper said the item identified the Chinese-controlled territories of Hong Kong and Macau as countries, according to AP. Both are former European colonies that were returned to China in the late 1990s.
The apology came after a Chinese actress cut her ties with the company, saying the clothing was suspected of harming China's sovereignty.
The studio for Yang Mi, who had been a brand ambassador for Versace, said in a Weibo post that it had sent notice to Versace to terminate their contract. "The motherland's sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred and inviolable," the studio's statement said.
Milan-based Versace is the latest company to become entangled in political issues involving China, which since last year has increased its policing of how foreign firms describe Hong Kong and Macau, Reuters reported.
“Versace reiterates that we love China deeply, and resolutely respect China’s territory and national sovereignty,” Versace apologised in a statement.
Donatella Versace, sister of the fashion house’s late founder Gianni, issued a similar statement on her official Instagram account.
“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,” she wrote.
The T-shirt, images of which were widely posted on Chinese social media, featured a list of “city-country” pairs, including “New York-USA” and “Beijing-China”. But it also described Hong Kong and Macau as “Hong Kong-Hong Kong and Macau-Macau.”
Versace reacted by saying, "It's our company's negligence and we express deep apology for the impact it caused." The luxury label promised the shirts had been removed from sales and were destroyed.