Dolce & Gabbana is facing backlash from racist ads that promoted a Shanghai fashion show featuring the luxury brand’s collection. And, racist comments posted on co-founder Stefano Gabbana’s personal Instagram account have caused celebrities to withdraw support for the brand.
The series of
ads mocked a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks. For example, a model attempts to eat a cannoli and a bowl of spaghetti, and the narrator mispronounces the brand’s name. Critics say this mocks the way Chinese people say “Dolce & Gabbana.”
Dolce & Gabbana ‘Eating with Chopsticks’ video series
A fashion blogger shared Gabbana’s Instagram
messages, which were racist retaliations to criticism of the ads:
“From now on in all the interviews that I will do international I will say the country of [feces emojis] is China andwe will live very well without youChina Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia If the Chinese feel offended by a girl who spells pizza or pasta with chopsticks means that those Chinese feel inferior so you are racist because you eat dogs I Love all the people can see all the fake news about me!!! They make me more strong.”
Customers began returning products to stores and leading fashion retailers dropped the brand. Chinese celebrities, including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” star Zhang Ziyi and actor and singer Chen Kun, who were supposed to attend the fashion show last week bailed; and the brand’s Chinese ambassadors, including Karry Wang Junkai, a member of the band TFBoys, and actress Dilireba, terminated their contracts.
There were also protests, including the burning of $20,000 worth of products. Insulted people claiming “Not Me” outside stores showed no signs of slowing down.
Gabbana may have been emboldened, however, by the fact that he’s been unabashedly racist in the past, and the brand has not suffered.
“I love to be free,” he said
In a May interview .”Free, free, free, free, free. I love to say what I think.”
Gabbana has previously
denied sexual harassment existing in Italy and the #MeToo movement, openly called female celebrities ugly, called people fat, condemned gay parents, and under his leadership has marketed a $2,395 pair of shoes “slave sandals” (in 2016) and earrings that appeared to be blackamoor faces (in 2012).
mocked protests by designing “#Boycott Dolce & Gabbana” t-shirts for $295.
China is the top consumer of luxury brands. In 2017, D&G, which has
all-white executive leadership, recorded 1.3 billion euros in sales.
Domenico Dolce and Gabbana released statements saying the account was hacked, and then declared support for China and for those who worked on the show. They did not apologize until the end of the week in a
video, and criticism continued after it.
“Our families have always taught us to respect the various cultures in all the world, and that’s why we want to ask for your forgiveness. We will never forget this experience and lesson, and this sort of thing will never happen again,” Dolce & Gabbana said.
Chinese social media posts included criticism of the apology:
“We have a right to reject your apology, go make money off other countries, you aren’t fit to make money in China,” wrote one Weibo user
according to the South China Morning Post.
“The apology was posted by the hacker,” other users joked.
Others on social media pointed out the ignorance and challenged Gabbana to get educated:
Reader Question: Do you think the apology from Dolce & Gabbana is sincere