Taylor Swift’s Clothing Line Might Offend Her Chinese Fans

Photo: Gregory Pace/ BEImages/ Rex USA.
Taylor Swift's clothing line is launching in China tomorrow, and there might be some pretty irate reactions, according to Reuters. Why? Various pieces of Swift-branded apparel sold in the U.S. are emblazoned with "T.S. 1989," the star's initials and birth year — and possibly also on pieces that will be sold in China. If so, the inscription could be taken as a reference to Tiananmen Square, where hundreds were brutally suppressed and killed while partaking in democracy protests in...1989. China's ruling Communist Party has banned references to the horrific event from state media, social media, online, and in books. The prohibition includes mentions of the date of the uprising, June 4, as well as "26 years," referring to the most recent anniversary of the protests. Although Chinese citizens could conceivably use the shirt as a clandestine form of civil disobedience, there's something that feels very glib about a graphic T-shirt reminding a nation's people about a brutal, violent event that represents the very worst parts of a repressive government. A source involved in the production of the singer's clothing line told Reuters that some individuals working on it wisely voiced concern over putting the potentially disrespectful slogan on merch sold in China. Swift's reps told Reuters that talk of the possibly offensive logo being removed was "incorrect." The line is being carried by China's e-comm kingpins Alibaba and JD.com, and the project came about because of the growing market in China for unauthorized Swift garb. For the most part, Swift has been riding high lately: a massive world tour, scoring the cover of Vanity Fair's September issue, winning Top Female Artist at the Billboard Music Awards in May to add to her collection of seven Grammys, etc. But a backlash against Swift's motives, success, and her excessively long list of famous, gorgeous BFFs has been building lately. If that "T.S. 1989" logo did indeed slip through the production process, she could be in for a lot of trouble.

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