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Versace, Givenchy and Coach Apologize to China After T-Shirt Row

Then, a T-shirt by the American fashion house Coach emerged on Weibo that also did not identify Hong Kong as part of China. The designs, which were removed from sale in May 2018, also appeared to imply that Taiwan — a self-ruled democratic island considered a breakaway province by Beijing — was an independent country. The company posted a public apology.

“We are fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it,” said the message, which was posted on Coach’s official Twitter and Instagram channels. “Coach is dedicated to long-term development in China, and we respect the feelings of the Chinese people.”

Coach, which is owned by Tapestry, a luxury fashion holding company based in New York, also lost a prominent China spokeswoman thanks to the gaffe.

“I apologize to everyone for the damage that I have caused as a result of my less-careful choice of brand!” the model and actress Liu Wen wrote on Weibo on Monday, as she confirmed that she planned to end her contract with the company. “Coach” was one of the most popular terms on Weibo early Monday morning, receiving 1.2 billion views.

Also on Monday, the French fashion house Givenchy issued an apology on Instagram for a T-shirt design that appeared to characterize Hong Kong and Taiwan as autonomous countries. It was being sold for 3,990 renminbi ($565) on the Chinese website of the luxury e-commerce platform FarFetch until the page was taken down Monday. The brand, owned by the luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, also apologized in a Weibo statement, saying it “always respects Chinese sovereignty.”

The backlash comes less than a year after a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement showing a Chinese model struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks prompted outrage and a boycott of D&G goods.

Airlines, carmakers, hotel operators and other consumer brands have all come under fire for appearing to flout Beijing’s territorial claims on their websites or product labels. In July last year, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines began to list only Taipei’s airport code and city on their websites, but not the name Taiwan, conceding to months of Chinese pressure. In January 2018, J.W. Marriott also publicly apologized when the wording of a customer survey prompted questions over its support of separatist movements. And last year, the American retailer Gap apologized for selling T-shirts that it said showed an “incorrect map” of China.

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