More luxury brands sorry for affronts to Chinese sovereignty

AFP, BEIJING

Tue, Aug 13, 2019 - Page 1

Luxury fashion brands Coach and Givenchy have apologized for making perceived affronts to China’s national sovereignty with T-shirts listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate nations, one day after Versace apologized for a T-shirt that implied Hong Kong and Macau were independent.

Images of a Coach T-shirt from last year that said Taiwan and Hong Kong were not part of China provoked anger online.

Givenchy was outed for a similar offence: a black T-shirt that listed Taiwan and Hong Kong separately from cities in China.

All three firms have tried to minimize the damage over the mistakes that cost them their high-profile Chinese brand ambassadors.

Coach yesterday said that it had found the “serious inaccuracy” in May last year and had immediately pulled the T-shirts from all its global channels.

It “deeply” regretted the design, it added.

“We also reviewed our assortment to ensure compliance, and have strengthened our internal product development process to avoid the occurrence of a similar issue in the future,” it said. “Coach respects and supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The brand corrected its Web site as well, after Chinese users shared screenshots online showing Hong Kong in a “find by country” drop-down list.

Givenchy’s apololgy on Sino Weibo also reiterated its respect for China’s sovereignty, and said the brand “resolutely upholds the one China principle.”

Chinese model Liu Wen (劉雯), Coach’s brand ambassador, said she was terminating her work with the brand over its T-shirt blunder.

“I apologize to everyone for the damage that I have caused as a result of my less-careful choice of brand!” she wrote on her official Sino Weibo account in a post that was “liked” hundreds of thousands of times.

“At all times, China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred and inviolable!” she wrote. “I love my motherland, and I steadfastly safeguard China’s sovereignty.”

Jackson Yee (易烊千璽), a hugely popular singer in boyband TFBoys (加油男孩), also pulled the plug on collaborating with Givenchy after pictures of the brand’s controversial T-shirts were criticized.

As of yesterday afternoon, Skin care brand Fresh, sportswear maker Asics and fashion designer Calvin Klein all apologized on their Chinese social media accounts for similar Web site designs that reconized China-claimed regions as independent nations.

Foreign brands are under increasing pressure from Chinese consumers and regulators to fall into line on issues surrounding Chinese sovereignty and its territorial claims.

Additional reporting by Reuters