• Coach and Versace apologized after sparking a backlash in China over t-shirts that listed Hong Kong as a separate country. 
  • The images had sparked criticism from Chinese consumers that the brands don’t respect Chinese sovereignty. 
  • Designer Donatella Versace personally apologized on Twitter, saying “never have I wanted to disrespect China’s national sovereignty.”

Fashion brands Coach and Versace apologized after furious criticism in China over t-shirts that listed Hong Kong as a separate country. Images of the t-shirts had sparked a backlash in China and calls for boycotts, with Chinese consumers accusing the brands of being insensitive to Chinese sovereignty. 

Both t-shirts listed a number of world locations by city and country, such as Los Angeles, United States. However, the Coach t-shirt displayed Hong Kong without a country, which some critics interpreted as a slight to China, while the Versace t-shirt said “Hong Kong, Hong Kong.” 

The outcry and apologies come as Hong Kong is witnessing violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement, with dozens of protesters demonstrating against what they consider the central Beijing government’s efforts to assert more control over the semi-autonomous city. The protests virtually shut down Hong Kong’s airport, one of the busiest in Asia. 

Coach said in a tweet that it “respects and supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It added that the t-shirt sparking the outrage was from a collection made in 2018, and that when it found the “serious inaccuracy,” it pulled the products from its global stores.

Versace, in its apology, said it pulled the t-shirt in July. 

“The brand accepts accountability and is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware,” it said in a tweet. 

Designer Donatella Versace also personally apologized on Twitter, saying “never have I wanted to disrespect China’s national sovereignty.”  

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