Versace’s Chinese brand ambassador have just called it quits.
Chinese actress Yang Mi said she will end her cooperation with the designer label after a controversy erupted online over claims that its T-shirt design defied the ‘One China’ policy.
She is Versace’s first Chinese brand ambassador and she issued a notice to Versace to end her contract and stop all work with the brand after its T-shirt listed Hong Kong as a country rather than a city.
It also listed Macau as a country rather than a city. Both Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions of China.
According to a statement posted Sunday on the official Weibo account of Jiaxing Xingguan, Yang’s studio – Versace has harmed China’s sovereign and territorial integrity.
Versace has apologised and removed the T-shirt.
In 1997, Hong Kong, a former British colony became a special administrative region of China.
The Versace’s T-shirt controversy is among the latest in a string of faux pas by foreign companies when it comes to dealing with China.
Last year, Dolce & Gabbana’s video ad showed a Chinese model struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks and that sparked outrage and a boycott of its products.
Beginning of this year, Leica Camera quickly distanced itself from a promotional video that prompted a backlash against the company in China for partially focusing on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.
The controversy around the T-shirt also comes as sensitivities around China and Hong Kong have intensified in the past two months with anti-Beijing protests in the city in their 10th week.
China also clamped down on Cathay Pacific Airways after employees of Hong Kong’s dominant airline joined the protests, one of the strongest signs that Chinese authorities are losing patience with the months-long demonstrations sweeping the former British colony.
Versace apologised in its own official Weibo account post for the “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.”