This Luxury Fashion Brand Just Angered the Whole of China

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(source: Screenshot from D&G ad)

The fashion industry has long been driven by unethical practices–remember when fur was still a thing?–and even in today’s globalised world, where cultural appropriation and backhanded racism are obvious red flags for any sort of business, we have this…

Italian luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, or D&G, faced explosive backlash in China over the last few days, starting with a series of ads that they posted to their social media accounts promoting their fashion show that was supposed to be held yesterday (21 Nov).

The ads–in which a Chinese model tries to eat Italian food with chopsticks–were deemed tasteless by many as they played on tired and false Chinese stereotypes disrespectfully using sexual innuendos (“is it too huge for you?”) while mocking Chinese culture in the name of fa-syion.


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It got worst when Instagram DMs that appeared to be from co-founder Stefano Gabbana’s conversation with model Michaela Tranova were leaked. The outrage exploded as Gabbana retorted by insinuating that Tranova herself is racist for “eating dogs” and that “the country of [series of poop emojis] is China.”

Gabbana then apparently posted the message: “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia”. This was all exposed and posted online by Diet Prada, a social media watchdog of the fashion industry.


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Chinese celebrities were quick to react after the screenshots were leaked and several models involved with the show said that they would boycott D&G and not show up (see what we did there). Naturally, the event was cancelled just hours before the fashion show was to begin.

The Shanghai extravaganza fashion show was to include 300 models previewing a new collection on a rotating stage and the final part of the show was to be dedicated to Asia, with Asian models and a front row of Asian stars among the 1,000 invited guests.

D&G claimed on their Instagram that the accounts of D&G and Stefano Gabbana have been hacked and its legal team was “urgently investigating”, but China netizens are obviously not convinced judging by the traction the hashtag #BoycottDolce is getting.

In addition, The Weibo hashtag #DGTheGreatShowCancelled has been read 540 million times, and mentioned in 74,000 discussions according to Business of Fashion. The fashion news site also listed down D&G founders Gabbana and co-founder Domenico Dolce many insensitive remarks in the past, including calling Selena Gomez “ugly” on IG in June, and the Kardashian family “the most cheap people in the world” in July. The founders also referred to babies conceived by in vitro fertilisation as “synthetic” and refused to support the right of gay parents to adopt–although they themselves are openly gay. Go figure.

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