BY SILVI WRITER and CHINA DAILY
From a much-anticipated fashion show to a much-anticipated cancellation, Italian fashion brand Dolce and Gabbana just used four days to turn the Chinese market down, due to controversy over what many view as a racist ad campaign.
The brand announced to cancel its runway show that was previously scheduled on Wednesday night in Shanghai after its latest “DG Loves China” online marketing ads have come under fire for trivializing China’s centuries-old culture and depicting Chinese women in a stereotypical and even racist way.
On Nov 18, D&G published a post on Chinese social media platform Weibo to promote its runway show in Shanghai, showing a Chinese woman being told how to use chopsticks.
In the video, the woman seems to be struggling to eat Italian food like pasta, pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks, while a male voiceover asks the woman, “Is it too huge for you?”
The posts have been accused of leaning heavily on Chinese stereotypes, causing heated discussion on social media platforms both at home and abroad.
“Dolce & Gabbana, please get out of my country. Most Chinese people are sick of wearing the brand’s clothes,” said Chinese Weibo user Dong Xiaodong1990.
“Some foreign luxury brands like Dolce and Gabbana are really two-sided. They want to make money in China and win the favor of Chinese market on one hand, while still doing annoying behavior,” added another Weibo user fashion-bangers.
Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova, a netizen, later posted, on her Instagram account, screenshots of several dialogues with the brand’s designer and co-founder Stefano Gabbana. Based on these screenshots, the designer used expletives to describe China, and expressed his determination he would never cancel the offending post.
She also said in a post: “We all (not only us Asians) deserve a better treatment from all (fashion) brands, that pretend go cater to our needs just to stuff their pockets with our money.” The post had been liked for more than 2,000 times on Wednesday.
To no one’s surprise, the screenshots went viral. Later, the official account of D&G claimed on Instagram the designer’s personal account had been “hacked”. The designer said his legal office was working on the issue, claiming he “loves China and Chinese culture” and is “sorry for what happened.”
Most Chinese netizens did not buy this “sincere apology”, dismissing the statements of regret as the result of compromise.
Quite a few Chinese celebrities including Zhang Ziyi, Li Bingbing, Wang Junkai and Chen Kun had confirmed their absence from the brand’s “The Great Show” fashion show before the brand announced cancellation officially.
The brand’s China ambassador Dilraba Dilmurat has deleted all posts related to the brand and said on Weibo, “I love you, my dearest country, China.”