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Coach slammed for failing to respect One-China policy with T-shirt design


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

August 13, 2019 | 3 min read

Coach is finding itself in hot water in China, a day after another fashion brand, Versace was criticised for producing a T-shirt that appeared to refer to Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries.


Beijing and Shanghai were named as part of China, Hong Kong and Macau were listed separately only as “Hong Kong” and “Macau”.

The American brand scrambled to express its respects and support for “China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” after images for a T-shirt design, part of a Coach and Disney collection released in May 2018, listed Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan separately from China, went viral on social media.

The back of the T-shirt featured a list of cities, with their country names, such as “Tokyo, Japan” and “Milan, Italy”.

However, while Beijing and Shanghai were named as part of China, Hong Kong and Macau were listed separately only as “Hong Kong” and “Macau”, and Taipei was listed as “Taipei, Taiwan”.

According to The South China Morning Post, social media users accused Coach of supporting Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwanese independence. They were also upset that Coach’s store locator on its website listed Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as three separate countries.

Coach has since apologised, releasing a statement saying: “In May 2018, we found a serious inaccuracy in the design of a few T-shirts … We also reviewed our entire assortment to ensure compliance, and have strengthened our internal product development process to avoid the occurrence of a similar issue in the future. We are fully aware of the severity of this error and deeply regret it.”

The brand also said it had “taken immediate action to review and correct relevant website content”, in response to the unhappiness over its store locator.

Model Liu Wen, Coach’s ambassador in China, has apologised for not being rigorous in her selection of brands to represent and said she would end her collaboration with Coach since its behaviour had “hurt the national feelings of the Chinese people” and must be “condemned seriously”.

Celebrities based in China who do not use their influence to support the Mainland's politics and causes can find work hard to come by.

Aside from Coach and Versace, other luxury brands that have found themselves in similar situations are Burberry and Dolce & Gabanna.

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