SHANGHAI — Versace is working with Chinese singer and actress Chris Lee to bring back a controversial T-shirt design that marked Hong Kong and Macau as separate entities from China and triggered an online outrage more than three years ago.
But this time, the design comes with a China-friendly message.
According to Versace, Lee proposed the collaboration for the new sweatshirt design in the same style as the controversial T-shirt, which features the brand’s store locations worldwide, but this time with Hong Kong and Macau listed as Chinese cities.
Lee will be sporting the hoodie as a part of her airport look en route the Italian luxury label’s Los Angeles show on Friday. The sweatshirt, which comes in two styles, both in black and white, will be released at a later date.
It is understood that Lee’s contract with Gucci, which started in 2016, is coming to an end.
Lee has previously worked with Donatella Versace on a Givenchy fall 2015 ad campaign titled “Givenchy Family Campaign.”
Lensed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and styled by Carine Roitfeld, the advertisement features Lee, Donatella Versace and retired American football player Victor Cruz.
In 2019, Chinese netizens discovered the controversial T-shirt and began to condemn to brand, alleging the shirt damaged China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As the image of the T-shirt began to circulate on Chinese social media, top Chinese actress Yang Mi decided to terminate her contract with the brand, only two months after signing on as Versace’s first Chinese ambassador.
Similar issues occurred at Coach and Givenchy, in which T-shirt designs listed Hong Kong and Taipei as separate locations than China, which gave off the impression that the cities were independent countries.
Liu Wen, who was a Coach ambassador at the time, quickly issued a public announcement to cut ties with the brand, as did actress Guan Xiaotong.
Jackson Yee, who was Givenchy Beauty’s spokesperson for China at the time, announced on Weibo that he had also terminated the partnership.
Versace, Coach and Givenchy all issued formal apologies on Chinese social media for the labeling and reiterated their respect for Chinese sovereignty.