“Tshirt-gate” has also befallen two more foreign brands for selling garments that Chinese social media users have called out for violating Chinese sovereignty.
Yesterday, Italian luxury brand Versace drew the ire of Chinese netizens as one of its shirts depicted Chinese territories Hong Kong and Macau, as individual countries. The backlash resulted in Yang Mi, Versace’s Chinese brand ambassador severing ties with the company and an official apology from Donatella Versace herself on the company’s social media.
Today, American brand Coach and French luxury house Givenchy are the next ones to join the club as similar t-shirts being sold by the two brands failed to pass the public’s muster.
“I love my motherland and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty.” – Liu Wen
Model Liu Wen, Coach’s Chinese brand ambassador has already issued a statement on her social media this morning announcing that she has already cut ties with the brand. In it, the model asserts that “at any given time, China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are inviolable”, and that she “apologises to everyone for the harm brought about by her careless choice of brand”. The shirts from Coach (which the brand has already pulled from sales), show Hong Kong under no country and Taipei under Taiwan.
Update: Furthermore, Guan Xiaotong, Ren Jialun and Timmy Xu who used to be brand ambassadors of Coach also released statements that they no longer had any relations to the brand.
Similarly, Givenchy’s Chinese brand ambassador Jackson Yeehas also followed suit, releasing a statement through his agency saying that the actor has always supported the one-China principle and is resolute in safeguarding his country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Both Coach and Givenchy have issued a formal apology on social media.
Companies hoping to have a slice of one of the world’s biggest economies will have to pay more attention as such a mistake might be both costly and damaging to their brands and their bottom line.