After a culturally insensitive promotional video and leaked messages from Dolce & Gabbana’s co-founder Stefano Gabbana, D&G now find themselves in a controversial news storm.
The D&G Shanghai runway show set to run on November 21 and feature 500 looks was cancelled last minute by the Shanghai government; celebrity brand ambassadors are calling quits on their affiliation with the brand; China’s biggest e-commerce platforms Tmall, JD.com, Xiaohongshu and Secco have removed D&G products from their sites. If you’re having trouble keeping up, let us break it down for you.
China is a major market for luxury brands, with Chinese consumers accounting for 33 per cent of global luxury goods purchases, according to Bain & Company; a figure forecast to rise to 46 per cent by 2025. Being endorsed by the Chinese fashionista elite is an essential part of any major fashion brand’s business plan.
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#DGlovesChina ? More like #DGdesperateforthatChineseRMB lol. In a bid to further appeal to luxury's covetable Chinese consumers, @dolcegabbana released some hella offensive “instructional” videos on the usage of chopsticks. Pandering at it's finest, but taken up a notch by painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of a people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods and an over-the-top embellishment of cliché ambient music, comical pronunciations of foreign names/words, and Chinese subtitles (English added by us), which begs the question—who is this video actually for? It attempts to target China, but instead mocks them with a parodied vision of what modern China is not...a gag for amusement. Dolce & Gabbana have already removed the videos from their Chinese social media channels, but not Instagram. Stefano Gabbana has been on a much-needed social media cleanse (up until November 2nd), so maybe he kept himself busy by meddling with the marketing department for this series. Who wants to bet the XL cannoli “size” innuendos were his idea? Lmao. • #dolceandgabbana #altamoda #rtw #dgmillennials #stefanogabbana #shanghai #chinese #italian #cannoli #meme #wtf #dumb #lame #chopsticks #foodie #tutorial #cuisine #italianfood #asianmodel #asian #chinesefood #dietprada
Earlier this month Dolce & Gabbana released a series of videos promoting their fashion show titled The Great Show in Shanghai November 21st. The videos show an Asian woman attempting to eat various Italian dishes using chopsticks. The clips are set in a stereotypical-looking Chinese market stall, backed by cliché ambient music and a narrating voice mocking the model as she doesn’t understand how to eat pizza, spaghetti or cannelloni. As if that weren’t enough, the narrator says things like “is it too big?” and “you can penetrate one of your chopsticks into the cannelloni” adding misogynistic undertones to the culturally insensitive video.
The problematic video was brought to light by the Instagram account @diet_prada, placing D&G in hot water. Shortly thereafter screenshots of an Instagram DM conversation between the brand’s co-founder Stefano Gabbana and model Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova were released, where Gabbana accused Tranova of racism for “eating dogs,” “the country of [series of poop emojis] is China” and “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Maffia.” His racist DMs are not super cohesive and sensical, but it’s enough to make the hashtag #BoycottDolce trend on the Chinese social media site Weibo.
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As @dolcegabbana prepares to mount their next runway show in Shanghai this coming evening (7:30PM) and the rest of Instagram fawns over what’s sure to be an overly lavish “love letter” to China, we’ll be wondering if we’ll see chopsticks as hair ornaments, take-out boxes as purses, or even kimonos misappropriated as Chinese costume. Time will tell. For now, we’ll let y’all simmer on this DM between Stefano and Dieter @michaelatranova (chronology is reversed in slides). Word has it that they’re still in the process of model casting (over 200 Asian girls scheduled)...wouldn’t let them walk the show if we were their agents lol. Also, curious what the Chinese government will think of their country being called shit basically...especially considering how strict they are on who to allow to enter the country on work visas based on a thorough social media background checks. • #DGTheGreatShow #DGlovesChina #runway #fashionshow #cancelled #racism #dolceandgabbana #altamoda #rtw #dgmillennials #stefanogabbana #shanghai #chinese #china #wtf #dumb #lame #asianmodel #asian #dietprada
Dolce & Gabbana has made public statements since, stating that the Instagram of Stefano Gabbana was hacked. But seeing as Gabbana has been known to write rude, spur-of-the-moment comments in the past, it seems the Chinese people will not be letting this lack of respect for their culture slide.
So the future of the fashion brand awaits. Can D&G mend their relationship with China or has that bridge been burned? And in case of the latter, how will D&G maintain their position as one of the most influential fashion houses in the West, without the financial and cultural influence in the East?