Versace gets dressing down as star quits over HK gaffe

Top News | Charlotte Luo 12 Aug 2019

Italian luxury brand Versace has apologized and pulled a T-shirt whose design allegedly promoted Hong Kong independence after losing its China brand ambassador.

Actress Yang Mi, Versace's first Chinese brand ambassador, issued a notice to the company yesterday to end her contract and stop all work with the brand after its shirt listed Hong Kong as a country rather than a city. It did the same for Macau, which like Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

Versace apologized in its Weibo account for the "wrong" design.

"Our mistaken design resulted in some cities not coming with the correct name of their country. The T-shirt was pulled from all official sales channels and destroyed on July 24," the company said yesterday.

"It was our company's negligence. We are deeply sorry about the impact we caused.

"Versace reiterates that we love China and resolutely respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Yang, 32, who is also a singer, was ranked third on the Forbes China celebrity 100 list in 2017.

"The clothes Versace designed allegedly harmed China's sovereign and territorial integrity," the actress' studio Jiaxing Xingguang said on Weibo.

"Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred and brook no division." The hashtag "Yang Mi ends partnership with Versace" has become a hot topic on Weibo, with more than 600 million views as of 5pm yesterday.

Chinese web users applauded Yang's reaction and decision but did not accept Versace's apology.

"Don't try to use 'mistaken design' as an excuse to challenge China's sovereignty," one posted.

"Yang Mi is so tough," another wrote. "At such a sensitive time, political stance is very important."

Versace's T-shirt is the latest in a string of faux pas by foreign companies in dealing with China.

Last year, a Dolce & Gabbana video ad that showed a Chinese model struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks sparked outrage and boycott of the brand.

It canceled a major show in Shanghai after racist comments about the Chinese people from a co-founder of Dolce & Gabbana, Stefano Gabbana, surfaced on Instagram.

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