Who would've thought that in an era where everything and everyone is moving towards inclusivity and 'political correctness', beauty and fashion powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana would make the massive mistake of launching a racially discriminating ad campaign that may have caused the toppling their brand? The label founded by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have had racial blunders in the past years, which we will mention later, but their most recent stint just had people dropping their D&G goods to the bins and causing an entire nation to boycott them.
The China issue
But let's backtrack a bit just in case you're still not in the loop. On 18 November 2018, D&G released a video campaign in all their platforms and social media accounts titled 'The Great Show'. It was created in line with their upcoming presentation in Shanghai. But things immediately went south when the video showed an unnamed model using chopsticks in an attempt to eat oversized portions of Italian food while a male voiceover adds suggestive comments such as, 'It's still way too big for you, isn't it?' and exaggeratedly mispronounces Western words and phrases including the label's name.
It's no secret that China is one of the biggest markets in the world for any and every commodity, but especially fashion. With the entire country finding the display ridiculous and offensive, it definitely spelt disaster for Dolce & Gabbana, not to mention the international uproar that went along with it. What may have been intended as 'cheeky' and 'playful' ended up being clichéd racist narrative. What's more is that screenshots of Stefano Gabbana defending the incident surfaced. He even went on to use phrases such as "China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia" and going as far as saying that everything is just "fake news." The showcase was cancelled... and as internet speak goes, so was the brand.
But wait! If you think that's all, there's more to the story. The official Instagram account of D&G released three statements regarding the matter, one of which claiming that their account and that of Stefano Gabbana's has been hacked, thus, the wide array of events that followed. Still, people were not buying it. Most of the commenters pointed out that the issue lies in the conceptualisation of the video campaign itself and that it seems quite convenient that both accounts were hacked just when people took notice and spoke out. Others were also noting that some comments under the posts were being deleted and filtered.
As expected, Asian influencers, models, brand ambassadors, and even agencies resigned and dropped their associations with the label. Major distributors in China also pulled out the brand's products from the shelves and Yoox Net-A-Porter took the label out of their platforms worldwide.
But while the brand may seem to have lost the amoré of their patrons, it's worth noting that D&G has the ability to redeem itself — at least in the way that is still thrived in sales — even with their not-so-clean record on the controversy pool. For example, there's Gabbana saying that he didn't want a Japanese designer designing for their label when the time of their passing comes and also when Dolce called the children born from fertility centres 'synthetic' — talk about controversies that have now become a thing of the past. In fact, D&G is well known for turning issues into profit. Not to mention that there are still some people who actually side with the label and the original concept of the ad campaign. One user wrote, "I think it's a sweet way to integrate the Italian culture with the Chinese culture with an international language: food." Another claimed that this is just another case of "cyberbullying."