Italian luxury brand Versace has found itself in the middle of a Chinese backlash as one of its t-shirt designs defied the 'One China' policy and singled out Hong Kong and Macau as separate regions.

The t-shirt features a list of its boutique locations in capital cities and their respective countries, failing to list Hong Kong and Macau as falling under Chinese administration.

Actress Yang Mi ends Versace ambassadorship

The flames of the controversy were fanned into a widespread blaze when Chinese actress Yang Mi, a Versace ambassador, said she would end her cooperation with the luxury house. Yang said Versace has harmed China’s sovereign and territorial integrity, according to a statement posted Sunday on the official Weibo account of Jiaxing Xingguang, the actress’s studio, noted Bloomberg.

Versace was quick to respond and apologise, subsequently removing the t-shirt from its sales channels. Donatella Versace in an Instagram post said: "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.”

While Versace's t-shirt faux pas didn't have the tone-deaf resonance of Dolce & Gabbana's China show advert in 2018, which featured an Asian model eating spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks, it comes as heightened sensitivities around Hong Kong and China with anti-Beijing protests are now entering their 10th week.

Versace issued an apology on its own Weibo account, admitting to a “wrong design” that incorrectly attached country names to cities. The T-shirts were taken off its shelves on July 24 and have been “destroyed,” it said.

“This is our negligence and we are deeply sorry about the impact we caused,” Versace said in the post, adding that it “resolutely respects China’s sovereignty.”


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