Why Givenchy, Coach, and Versace Are All Apologizing to Chinese Customers
What do Givenchy, Coach, and Versace have in common aside from being major fashion houses? This weekend, all three companies apologized to Chinese customers after backlash over inaccurate T-shirt designs.
Between Sunday night and early Monday morning, both Givenchy and Coach issued apologies after social media users called for a boycott of the brands due to separate T-shirts from both fashion houses that suggested Hong Kong and Taipei were separate from China — a day after Versace was forced to do the same.
After images of Coach's shirt began circulating, supermodel Liu Wen, a Coach ambassador, announced on Chinese social media platform Weibo that she would be severing ties with the brand.
"At any time, China's sovereignty and territory integrity are inviolable!" she wrote, according to a translation from CNN. "My carelessness in choosing which brand to work with has brought harm to everyone; I apologize to everyone here! I love my motherland and resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty."
She posted the message along with a letter from her lawyer saying she would be parting ways with Coach because it had "severely hurt the feelings of Chinese people."
Coach responded with a statement, writing, "Coach respects and supports China's sovereignty and territorial integrity." The brand added that the T-shirt design dates back to May 2018, and that it has pulled the shirt in question from "all channels globally."
"We are fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it," the label wrote. "Coach is dedicated to long-term development in China, and we respect the feelings of the Chinese people."
Givenchy also faced backlash over a similar shirt that implied Hong Kong and Taipei were not a part of China, and apologized in a statement early Monday.
"The house of Givenchy firmly respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity," the statement read. The brand also added that actions have been taken to recall the "inaccurate T-shirt design" from all markets, and that "measures of product and process review have been and will continue to be taken to avoid similar situations in the future."
"The House of Givenchy wishes to sincerely apologize for this mistake that does not reflect the deep respect it has for its Chinese audiences throughout the world, as well as renew its commitment to pursue its longstanding relationship with the market in the most thoughtful way."
The day before, Versace apologized after one of its T-shirts listed Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries.
“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," Donatella Versace said in a statement. "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.”
The company added that a recall had been issued last month, and that it "is exploring actions to improve how we operate day-to-day to become more conscientious and aware."
China's state-run People's Daily newspaper criticized Versace and Coach for making "foolish mistakes" during a "sensitive period," as Chinese sovereignty has been a sensitive topic as of late. For weeks, hundreds of thousands of protestors in Hong Kong have been marching to speak out against a controversial bill that would allow residents to be extradited to China.