22 August 2019
Cheerful designs with a serious purpose. Designers of the T-shirts want to keep the spirit of the protest movement alive. Photos: Apple Daily, Facebook
Cheerful designs with a serious purpose. Designers of the T-shirts want to keep the spirit of the protest movement alive. Photos: Apple Daily, Facebook

Mainland T-shirt suppliers allergic to yellow umbrella design

Since the democracy protest in Hong Kong began in late September, T-shirts with the yellow umbrella or yellow ribbon image have become the “in” thing to wear among the city’s young people.

The images, of course, are the symbols of the Occupy Movement seeking genuine universal suffrage in the territory.

But the T-shirts are now hard to come by because mainland companies refuse to accept orders for any items that bear those images.

They want the business, but they’d rather lose it than be branded by mainland authorities as sympathizers of the protest movement.

Or even if they accept the orders, there’s no way they can ship them back to Hong Kong without encountering problems with authorities, they say.

This was the problem of two friends who designed the now famous “I Love HK” T-shirts.

Recently, they designed a variation of the T-shirt in honor of the protest movement by changing the image of the heart (for love) into a yellow umbrella.

They plan to give away the T-shirts to cheer up friends who are manning the protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

But all of the six mainland suppliers they contacted said no and even wondered if they had anything to do with the “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong.

For the mainlanders, the protest campaign is an illegal, subversive activity. They don’t even want to see the T-shirt design; just the mere mention of the yellow umbrella was enough to end the discussion.

Apple Daily, which published the story, contacted T-shirt manufacturers on the mainland and all of them rejected orders for T-shirts with the yellow umbrella design. Some said they had been told not to take such orders.

Fortunately, the “I Love Hong Kong” duo found a Hong Kong-based manufacturer who accepted their orders. They even cut the unit price to HK$35 (US$4.51) from the normal rate of over HK$40. The duo ordered 200 units.

A logo designer who identified himself only as Vasco came up with another protest T-shirt design. The main image is still the yellow umbrella, but it also incorporates the Lion Rock, which has become associated with the protest movement after a group of mountain climbers hung a giant “I want genuine universal suffrage” banner on the face of the hill that straddles Kowloon and the New Territories.

Similarly, Vasco was snubbed by mainland manufacturers when he approached them for the T-shirt orders. Finally, he was also able to contact Hong Kong suppliers who were willing to do the T-shirts.

He said it was not his intention to make money out of selling the T-shirts; he just wants to keep the spirit of the protest campaign alive. He also hopes that those who will copy his design won’t try to sell the T-shirts for profit.

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